SOTY 2019: Grand Prize candidates have a clear vision of a sustainable Hong Kong

  • Student of the Year finalists for the category gave their ideas about how to make technology work for citizens
  • Building a community and listening to public opinion are some of the ways tech could be integrated in a non intrusive way
Rhea Mogul |

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The Student of the Year (SOTY) Grand Prize category attracts some of the most hardworking and innovative students from across Hong Kong. But even these well-rounded individuals were thrown into the deep end and had to think on their feet during the judging, which took pace (for the first time ever) via Zoom amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The students spoke with four judges – South China Morning Post’s Editor-in-Chief, Tammy Tam; Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics at Chinese University, Joseph Sung Jao-yiu; Executive Director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Andy Ho Wing-cheong, and South China Morning Post Training Editor, Philip Smith.

The judges questioned students on this year’s topic: how to make Hong Kong a more sustainable city.

Benjamin Chan, 17, from St Joseph’s College, who is interested in smart cities and technology, said the pandemic has exposed many flaws in society which he would like to correct.

SOTY 2019: Past Community Contributor winner says to ‘Trust the process’

“A lot of people work from home,” he said. “But many people were not able to adapt to the new technology, so people need to be given more training to use these platforms.

“We should also give the government more advice on how to make the transition during Covid-19 easier for us, enabling Hong Kong to become a smart city.”

Jonathan Ho Chung-wah, 17, from Bishop Hall Jubilee School, believes the world needs more “empathy” and “rational intellectual exchange”. “I’m grateful to have taken part in many extracurricular activities at school,” he said.

“This has given me the unique advantage of cooperating and empathising with people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.”

Johnathan Ho

“Building a culture of community is more important than ever now,” said Jonathan, who is also the president of his school’s student union. He has implemented programmes at his school that promote inclusion.

To make Hong Kong more sustainable, people need to tackle three things: air pollution, waste treatment and water use.

“We need policies from the government, and then action must be taken by us,” he said. “The government should tackle air pollution by giving financial incentives for greener transport. They should also launch financial incentives for collecting waste. We can help by recycling.”

SOTY 2019: Community Contributor candidates on the importance of giving back to Hong Kong

Kyle Hui, 17, from St Paul’s Co-educational College, believes young people have a responsibility to serve others, which is why he founded Sprouting Stem, an organisation that offers workshops in Stem subjects to primary school students. Stem stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Students are often only focused on academics,” said Kyle. “They often forget about fostering a sense of community. This is what I set out to do at my school.”

Kyle, who is also an environmental activist, organised a “green fashion show” at his school, using upcycled clothing for students and teachers to model. Funds raised from ticket sales went to charity.

Dylan Robinson, 17, from German Swiss International School, is on the Hong Kong rowing team, and competed in Thailand in December last year.

“As commander [of the boat], I have to make a lot of strategic calls during the race, which generates a lot of trust between me and my teammates,” said Dylan, who is also in charge of steering the boat.

Dylan Robinson, a candidate for SOTY 2019 Grand Prize, says the government and community must work together to solve Hong Kong’s housing shortage.He believes the government and the community must work together to solve the city’s housing shortage.

“Everyone has to take measures to establish a good future for Hong Kong,” said Dylan. “Some proposals have to be properly vetted. For example, the artificial island scheme is not a good idea as it does not help the environment and people are opposed to it.”

Jenny Lee Wing-lam, 16, from St Paul’s Convent School, has a passion for Stem projects and finding solutions to problems around her.

“My friends and I attempted to [find solutions] to reverse the effects of climate change by generating clean energy from walking,” she said. “I feel empowered when I am able to do things like this.”

“I hope to make small contributions and changes in society,” she said.

The Student of the Year Awards competition is organised by South China Morning Post and Young Post and sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club

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