11 spots on government committees thrown open to Hong Kong youths in newspaper ads
Officials look to recruit Hongkongers between 18 and 35 for policy advisory bodies, but sitting members are at odds over whether candidates active in politics should be welcomed
Recruitment notices by the government seeking 11 young Hongkongers for five policy committees appeared in the city’s major newspapers on Tuesday, even as sitting committee members argued over whether they would welcome candidates who were active in politics.
The advertisement asked those aged between 18 and 35 to put themselves up as members of advisory groups on social and youth matters.
They will join the Youth Development Commission, which is expected to be launched next year, and four existing groups – the Action Committee Against Narcotics, Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education, Committee on Innovation, Technology and Reindustrialisation, and the Environmental Campaign Committee.
The government said it wanted candidates committed to serving the community as well as possessing a good understanding of the relevant policy issues and good analytical and communication skills.
These would be “the only assessment criteria” that a nine-member recruitment committee would consider when evaluating applications, a spokesman for the Home Affairs Bureau said.
The recruitment exercise follows Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s pledge in her policy address earlier this month to increase youth representation in advisory committees to 15 per cent. The committees usually have about 20 members.
Lau Ming-wai, a member of the recruitment committee and chairman of the Commission on Youth, a separate advisory body, said he preferred new faces with diverse backgrounds.
“I would be looking for young people with no political background,” he said.
“If all candidates are from political parties, I would be rather disappointed.”
But another panel member, Lam Chiu-ying, the chairman of the Environmental Campaign Committee, claimed candidates’ backgrounds were irrelevant.
“Whether the candidate has joined any party is not a consideration. I do not think there is a need for them to declare it in the application form, and for me I would not ask them such questions.”
But he asked if the recruitment process was fair, pointing out that with just 11 young members, there might not be much of an impact on policymaking.
The government could easily seek the views of young people, such as student leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung and former lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung, he said.
But Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) vice-chairman Nixie Lam, who praised the scheme, disagreed.
“Some of the opinions are against the law – does the government really have to listen to all of them?”
Applications for the Pilot Member Self-recommendation Scheme For Youth close on November 30, with the 11 youths expected to be appointed to the committees after the first quarter of next year. More details are available on the Home Affairs Bureau website.
Democratic Party vice-chairman Lo Kin-hei said his party would not stop members from joining the committees as it had always supported efforts to advise the government on its policies.