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Saturday, July 22, 2006 

Margaret Ng: The Lack of Youth Participation in Hong Kong Politics

Looking at some of the Chinese blogs in Hong Kong's blogosphere, where a good number of them have a yellow "ribbon" banner which shows their support for universal suffrage, I would have thought that many young people in Hong Kong care about democracy.

But in reality, that might not be the case. Margaret Ng, member of the Legislative Council and Civic Party shares her observation, in her column in Apple Daily, on reasons behind the lack of youth participation in politics and its implication on Hong Kong's democratic development in the long run.

Below is a translation of Margaret Ng's writing, originally appeared in Apple Daily and also available Ng's website.

The march in 2003 was especially full of middle class and professionals; men, women, old and young. 2004's march seemed to have a lot of young people. One explanation for that was they missed the historical march in 2003 and they couldn't afford to miss this one. I didn't pay attention to 2005's. This year's march, even though at the forefront, the march was led by a youth theme, but overall, the proportion of young people didn't seem to be high. Middle-age or near middle-age population were very apparent. If that is the case, then it is worth paying attention to and understanding it. If democracy is middle-aged people's 心事, then after eight or ten years, the age factor will become a disadvantage for democratic development. Hong Kong and China's democracy can never be attained. This is because, people in power know that only if they could defer the issue to the next generation in charge of social and economic hub, then the issue of democracy will become unimportant.

Why is it like that? Ideals is the the innate nature of young people. Democractic thinking, striving for a society of equality and anti-authoritarian attitude, are naturally young people's attitude. Colonial's "slavarized education" didn't destroy our generation's quest for democracy. Why is is that nine years after people have lived under a system where they are the master of their own house, that they have become apathetic towards democracy? Was it that we didn't educate our next generation properly; or was the S.A.R. government's education policy too successful, making students of Hong Kong only care about their employment upon their graduation?

In fact such thoughts didn't only occur to me when the march took place. Two weeks ago, I was handing out promotional flyers for the July 1st March. I had already noticed that out of every ten young people, only two or three were willing to accept flyers. It is not that they were not interested, but that sometimes they appeared to look down on us. Obviously they were not disrespecting us for our hard work we put in for our ideals, but they looked down on us because we are performing such "bored" task. Globalization has made earning a living more difficult, turning career into a cause of never-ending self-improvement and self-promotion; having someone who could help me land a job is the most important thing, and participating in the fight for democracy may only affect my opportunities, and therefore avoid it wherever one possibly could. So young and they are already so practical, what a great pitty!

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