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Thursday, October 12, 2017, 12:29
HK youths to have an early go in politics, governance
By Honey tsang and He Shusi in Hong Kong
Thursday, October 12, 2017, 12:29 By Honey tsang and He Shusi in Hong Kong

Graduates throw their mortar boards into the air at City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong. The government is creating more channels to facilitate communication between itself and the city’s youths. As a result, more young blood will join the process of drafting and implementing policies. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

A greater number of Hong Kong’s aspiring youngsters will get the chance to take part in policymaking, as the government will set aside extra openings for young political talents.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor revealed in her Policy Address that the overall ratio of young members enlisting in various official committees will be nearly doubled from the current 8.4 percent to 15 percent during her first five-year term. 

These would-be young politicians will be invited to apply as members of selected boards and committees through a pilot member self-recommendation program by the end of this year. Applicants aged between 18 and 35 are eligible to apply.

A government spokesman said a candidate’s educational background will not be of prime concern. Young people with an avid interest in politics and who are ready to serve the SAR are encouraged to have a go, he said.

And, most importantly, this can help cultivate a more amicable political climate as youngsters can now make their voices better heard and responded to

Ngai Sek-yum, chairman of the Department of Social Work at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

The first cohort of selected candidates will join five advisory committees, including the Youth Development Commission, the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education and the Committee on Innovation. The aim is to advance youths’ participation in politics on various fronts, the spokesman said. 

Ngai Sek-yum, chairman of the Department of Social Work at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who specializes in studies on youth empowerment, said the new program prompting the inclusion of young people in politics is essentially very “up and coming”.

“The government bodies used to be a coterie of long-serving officials. This particular initiative can bring in fresh and young blood, together with their innovative ideas, which the HKSAR should have done long ago,” Ngai told China Daily. He said there’s a trove of young people with the ingenuity to find new ways to drive the development of our city. “And, most importantly, this can help cultivate a more amicable political climate as youngsters can now make their voices better heard and responded to.”

The Youth Development Commission is one of the five committees that will work to integrate more youths into politics. It’s intended to focus on drafting and implementing policies that are of interest to young people, and is expected to be inaugurated in the first half of next year.

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung will be responsible for steering the commission forward. He is believed to be the ideal “facilitator” to speed up communication and collaboration, a government spokesperson told China Daily.

Lam also spelled out in her Policy Address that the HKSAR plans to recruit 20 to 30 more young adults, who will join veteran officials in transforming the Central Policy Unit into the Policy Innovation and Coordination Unit. The chief executive said the move is to deal with the government’s huge projects. The new unit is likely to be rolled out in April next year. The young political newcomers will be hired on a non-civil-service contract basis through a fair and transparent selection process. 

At a press conference following her Policy Address, Lam stressed that the political affiliation of applicants is never a criterion.   

To promote all-round development among the city’s youths, she also promised to open up more internship opportunities for them on the Chinese mainland, as well as in countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The mainland internships are expected to give Hong Kong youths an edge in their career planning and deepen their understanding of the mainland’s cultural and economic development. 

Ha Yuk-mei, a 29-year-old founder of a local high-tech eyewear firm, described the cross-boundary internship opportunities offered to youngsters as “very encouraging”. 

“Such working experience will help youths to start building up their business network and connections on the mainland. It’s particularly crucial for Hong Kong’s youngsters to extend their vision to the mainland job market, especially with today’s fierce global competition,” she said.

Contact the writers at honeytsang@chinadailyhk.com


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