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Hong Kong youth

Young candidates face interview grilling as they vie for chance to shadow top Hong Kong officials

Of the 1,100 applicants, only 32 will get the opportunity to take part in the ‘Be a Government Official for a Day’ programme in July

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 May, 2018, 7:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 May, 2018, 7:03am

Hong Kong secondary students have been attending interviews to fight for a chance to get a first-hand look at how the city’s top officials carry out their daily duties, but surprisingly, no political questions were posed to the candidates on Friday.

Just 32 of the 1,100 the Form Four and Five students, aged 15 to 16, who have applied to the “Be a Government Official for a Day” programme will be able to personally shadow a bureau chief or minister for a day between July 16 and 27.

Interviews, or officially framed as “face-to-face meetings with applicants”, were arranged in the past few days, with students seen going in and out the government headquarters in Admiralty on Friday afternoon.

Want to know what it’s like to run Hong Kong? City’s students get the chance

Candidates have not yet met any of the principal officials they are due to shadow in the interview sessions yet, and students said some of the officials who interviewed them did not introduce themselves.

“We were in a group of five,” one candidate, Purl Cheung, a Form Four student from Jockey Club Ti-I College, said. “We were asked about our future planning, why they should pick us and who we want to shadow.”

Other questions were about their expectations of the programme and their most difficult life experience. No political questions were involved and no group discussions were held.

Of the five students the Post spoke to, two said they would like to shadow Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee, one picked Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, one chose Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, and the other hoped for Secretary for Home Affairs Bureau Lau Kong-wah.

More than 1,100 Hong Kong young people apply to be ‘government official for a day’

Cheung, a taekwondo athlete, said she had been aware of food nutrition to keep her weight steady, and was therefore interested in studying food safety at university.

“I am interested in working for the government,” she explained. “In a practical sense, I think the programme could assist my pursuit of education.”

Sharing Cheung’s wish to shadow Sophia Chan is Hedy Li, who is interested in public health.

“Hong Kong’s health system has big room for progress,” she said. “I would like to learn from [Chan] on how to forge social consensus in pushing social policies.”

Nicola Wong, a student from St Paul’s Covent School, said she would like to shadow Matthew Cheung and tell him thoughts from the city’s youth, especially on how to reduce the suicide rate among youngsters.

Talking about politics, most of them said they were not into the hot-button topics of the city at all.

“I am apathetic about politics. I am concerned about policies but not politics,” another candidate, Chris Chu, said. Asked about his political affiliation, he said: “I am neutral. I like the middle path”.

Another student, Anrou Yuan, said politics was “too difficult” a topic. She said she had read news and articles shared by Demosisto, the party co-founded by Occupy movement poster boy Joshua Wong Chi-fung, but did not have much of her “own thoughts” about current affairs.

The student applicants are required to be recommended by their schools. Officials earlier said they hoped to choose “self-motivated” students interested in public service and possessing “analytical and communication skills”.