Interview June 2017 | Youth Hong Kong
Without hope, life becomes very depressing. I need to get to the root of the problem. Economic development: providing motivation for youth All this naturally depends on the assurance of secure economic development. “To grow the economy, not only do we want to strengthen traditional sectors, including finance, shipping, professional services and tourism, we also want to press ahead with emerging sectors.” Specifically, these are innovation and technology, as well as the creative industries. These could, in the long term, provide motivation for youth to play their own role in economic development, given competencies in both sectors, Mrs Lam affirmed. As an example, she would like to see young people with innovative ideas devising policy and applications for the delivery of medical care, biomedicine and biotechnology for the elderly. Artificial intelligence (AI) is another field where young people should be involved. “I think we have a strong edge in developing AI. I have seen very talented students in this area, with new ideas in automation and robotics.” What the government needs is to have a shared vision of growth in opportunities and investment so that young people will see more clearly that this is where their future lies. The central focus of Mrs Lam’s vision for young people is their growing involvement in the public arena. Tapping their forces and resources, listening to and engaging them are very important. She highlighted three approaches which could facilitate the process of engagement and offer a real, comprehensive way in which the concerns of young people could be heard while possible solutions were gleaned from them.
Listening and interacting, engagement and direct participation First and foremost Mrs Lam stressed that young people need more opportunities to interact with government officials and to gain a better understanding of public policy. “Indeed, I promise that I and the Principal 8
Officials of my government will go to schools and youth organizations with the express intention of listening to young people directly and interacting with them.” The second approach to youth engagement that Mrs Lam would like to pursue is an increased youth membership of government advisory boards and committees. “There are hundreds of these and we could invite or appoint more young people.” A new self-nomination process could also be established whereby vacancies were advertised and those interested could put their names forward, involving a proactive response from young people themselves.
Nothing can substitute for dialogue with a personal touch. Third, Mrs Lam outlined a strategy to bring more youth directly into government by giving them working experience in public policy and public affairs. “I promise to create 20 to 30 positions on non-civil service contracts for this purpose. Then we can work more side by side.” Together, what these three approaches offer to young people is actual and direct participation, which could go a long way to improve communication and understanding on both sides. Underlying Mrs Lam’s vision of expanding youth opportunities, both in the workforce and in the civic arena, is the creation of a youth development policy.
Youth policy from new Youth Development Commission At present, youth development work within various government departments may seem compartmentalized. The Social Welfare Department, Home Affairs Bureau and Education Bureau all run different youth development programmes. “What we need is a well-articulated, overarching youth development policy to bring them together.” A higher level Youth Development Commission, to grow out of the existing Commission on Youth, will draw up the policy, a visionary statement encapsulating hopes and goals for Hong Kong’s youth. “Whatever policy the