LCQ21: Measures to promote youth development

     Following is a question by the Hon Jimmy Ng and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):

     The Youth Quality of Life Index Report, published by the Centre for Quality of Life at The Chinese University of Hong Kong on September 1 this year, has shown that the Youth Quality of Life Indices in 2015-2016 for four domains (namely Society, Economics, Politics and Overall Well-being) were lower than those of the previous year, and the index for the youth's perceived impact on policy has also dropped by 10.19 per cent.  Some analyses have pointed out that the aforesaid results are reflective of the powerlessness felt by the youth in seeking to influence the implementation of government policies, it is therefore necessary for the Government to enhance consultations with the youth to gauge their views on public policies and to incorporate the youth's views in formulating the relevant policies.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective numbers of youth participants in the most recent three Youth Summits and Youth Exchange Sessions; the officials from policy bureaux who attended these meetings; whether the authorities organised other large-scale activities in the past three years to gauge the youth's views on public policies; if they did, of the names of these activities and the respective numbers of youth participants; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether the Government will formulate a more comprehensive youth policy and youth development visions, and require various policy bureaux to consider the youth's views when formulating policies and to review and assess the youth policy in a timely manner; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) given that a number of policy areas (e.g. education, employment, housing and constitutional development) of great concern to the youth are now under the portfolios of different policy bureaux, whether the policy bureaux concerned held inter-departmental meetings in the past three years to gauge the youth's views on these policy areas; if they did, of the details; if not, the reasons for that, and how the Government will address the concerns and aspirations of the youth; whether it will establish a dedicated government department to handle youth affairs; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

     Below is our reply to the Hon Ng's question.
(1) Youth Summit is jointly organised by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) and the Commission on Youth (CoY).  The respective numbers of youth participants in the most recent three Youth Summits and the official attendees are as follows:

Youth Summit
Year Number of youth participants Principal officials attending the summit
2012 about 380 The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung
The Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing
The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung
The Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim
The Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung
The Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan
2015 about 280 The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung
The Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing
The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung
The Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim
2016 about 290 The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung
The Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah
The Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing
The Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan
The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So
The Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang

     Apart from organising Youth Summits, HAB and CoY co-organised nine Youth Exchange Sessions in the past three years to gauge views from our younger generation, with cumulative attendance of over 700 youth participants.  These sessions cover a wide range of topics, including population policy, model for electing the Chief Executive by universal suffrage, environmental conservation and youth development.  The recent three Youth Exchange Sessions were focused on retirement protection, and more than 250 youth participated.  The Principal Officials or representatives from relevant advisory body attending these three exchange sessions include the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung; member of the Commission on Poverty (CoP), Dr Law Chi-kwong; and the Secretary of the CoP, Ms Doris Ho.

     To further enhance the communication with young people, the Secretary for Home Affairs and the Chairman and members of CoY often take the initiative to meet and conduct exchanges with young people and young District Councillors of different background to listen to their views and aspirations on governance and district administration.  In addition, the Government has appointed persons aged 35 or below to advisory and statutory bodies of many other key areas, such as economy, commerce and trading, education, training, employment, social welfare, planning, environmental protection, arts, culture and technological development, as well as district affairs, to relay young people's voices and views. 
     In addition, the 18 districts have established district youth networks to provide various platforms for youth to participate in social affairs.  Many bureaux have also arranged different channels for young people to express their views during policy consultation, such as the consultation on the promotion of sustainable consumption of biological resources, "Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030", and retirement protection.  In collaboration with CoY, we will continue to extensively reach out to young people of different sectors and listen to their views through various youth activities (e.g. exchange and internship programmes and volunteer work) and social media (e.g. CoY homepage and Facebook page).

(2) and (3) The SAR Government has always been attaching great importance to youth development and endeavouring to promote a culture of multi-faceted excellence and provide diversified learning, training and personal development opportunities for young people with different aspirations and talents, so that they can develop a positive attitude towards life and commitment to serving the community.  Under the globalisation trend, we hope that our young people can have a global outlook while paying attention to the development of both Hong Kong and our country. They should be prepared to assume social obligations while understanding thoroughly their individual rights.  Our ultimate vision is nurturing young people as future masters of Hong Kong with vision, creativity, leadership and commitment.

     HAB is the policy bureau responsible for youth development.  Over the years, CoY, as our important partner in youth development work, has been advising the Government on matters pertaining to youth.  Since youth affairs involve different policy purviews, representatives from various bureaux, such as HAB, Education Bureau, Security Bureau, and Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Home Affairs Department are official members of CoY.  They attend every meeting to exchange views with other members with respect to relevant policies.  Other members include young people, social workers, practitioners in education, youth representatives from business sector, persons-in-charge of youth organisations etc.  They care about and are familiar with youth affairs and can hence bring diversified opinion to the discussions with their own experience.  Also, participation in CoY and its various working groups by a number of young members and co-opted members enables young people's voice to be heard.  Currently, more than half of the members of CoY were aged 35 or below at the time of first appointment.  The average age of the members is about 37.

     CoY serves as an inter-departmental platform for collaboration and exchange, enabling various government departments to discuss with its members policy issues of young people's concern, contemplate on the way forward for and further consolidate our efforts in youth development.  In fact, CoY has frequently received policy briefings given by representatives of the relevant bureaux and exchanged views on youth-related policy issues such as youth suicide problem, retirement protection, life planning and sustainable development.  We consider that under the existing arrangement, an inter-departmental platform is already in place for the Government to take into account the perspective of youth development when formulating policies.  Therefore, the Government has no intention to additionally establish a dedicated department to handle youth affairs.

     We recognise the necessity to listen to young people's views in the course of policy formulation.  That said, every policy involves different stakeholders in the community.  Therefore, we will continue to formulate policies from a macro perspective by balancing the interest of all parties and taking into account the needs of different stakeholders, including that of young people, as much as possible.  We will maintain an open attitude and proactively provide various platforms and channels, including social media, for young people to participate in the discussion of social affairs.  We will also help and encourage our younger generation to deepen their understanding of the background and relevant considerations of various social policies to facilitate rational and impartial deliberations.

Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:20