More listening, more communication, more dialogues: Move Hong Kong ahead
22 September 2019
The Chief Executive (CE) and her political team are looking forward to engaging in sincere and in-depth dialogues with people of different political stances and backgrounds in the community in a hope to get a better understanding of the deep-seated problems in society, learn from the Government’s inadequacies and find solutions that can move Hong Kong ahead. We earnestly wish the society can return to peace, replace conflicts with sincere conversation and rebuild mutual trust.
Three forms of dialogue platforms will be launched in parallel. First of all, a Community Dialogue session will be held next Thursday at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, Wan Chai. It will be an open dialogue platform aimed at reaching out to the public by inviting people from all walks of life to express their views to the Government, so as to fathom the discontent in society and to look for solutions. This first session has an admission quota of 150 places. Members of the public may submit their registration forms online or at Home Affairs Enquiry Centres before the closing date. Should the number of registrants exceed the quota, places will be allocated by computer lot drawing.
Secondly, the Government will have dialogues with people randomly selected from different ages, backgrounds and strata of society. Thirdly, intensive dialogues will be conducted with people from different sectors, with about 20 participants in each session. Underlying these dialogues are three major principles: targeting a wide range of people regardless of their social positions and stances; maintaining openness and transparency; and adopting an open agenda instead of specifying the topics for discussion. Set up under the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office, the Dialogue Office is tasked to plan and co-ordinate the dialogue sessions and to analyse the views collected in order to provide effective solutions.
Pending the formal launch of these open dialogue platforms, the CE and I, together with some Principal Officials, met with District Council (DC) members last Wednesday (18 September) to discuss matters of public concern. With well-established connections in their respective districts, DC members are representatives of the people who best understand the communities and their views. During the two hours of frank exchanges, we benefited a great deal from members’ valuable opinions and constructive proposals. Many of the opinions concerned livelihood issues, which are by no means trivial. We hope that, by understanding the root causes of people’s concerns and grievances, we could unravel the problems and come up with pragmatic solutions.
I have for some time started intensive dialogues behind the scenes with people from different sectors and am truly grateful for the candid views they expressed. Last week, the Commission on Children (CoC) and the Youth Development Commission (YDC), both chaired by me, also held a tea gathering and a special thematic meeting respectively.
During the tea gathering, the CoC members expressed their views on the current social incidents as well as the associated controversies, bullying in schools and violence. They were worried that the development of those incidents would lead to adverse impacts on the physical, psychosocial and mental well-being of children. They pointed out that some parents who had participated in social processions and protests had brought their children with them or perhaps exposed their children to media footage depicting clashes and violence. The children might feel afraid and confused, or display signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Some might even imitate the violent acts or develop distrust and hatred towards certain kinds of people.
All CoC members were of the view that such inappropriate exposure to or experience of violence would adversely affect the children’s emotion and behaviour as well as their long-term mental health, and the consequences could be very far-reaching. Children should live under the protection of adults, who are accountable for their well-being. I therefore appeal to every adult to take the best interests of children as a primary consideration.
As for the YDC, I have made an innovative attempt by conducting a number of special meetings attended by relevant directors of bureaux, focusing on such themes as youth housing, education and employment/entrepreneurship to gauge members’ views in depth. During the thematic meeting on housing held last Thursday (19 September), members unanimously agreed that housing was the most severe problem faced by Hong Kong society. They shared their views enthusiastically and relayed young people’s concerns. In response, I stressed the Government’s commitment to tackling the housing and land supply problems, which would be among the key areas covered in the CE’s Policy Address to be delivered next month.
The second and third special meetings, focusing on youth employment/entrepreneurship and education respectively, will be held tomorrow (23 September). The fourth meeting, themed on reviewing the work of the YDC, will be held on 25 September. In addition, I will meet some appointees under the Member Self-recommendation Scheme for Youth and some participants of youth development activities on 26 and 27 September respectively to gauge their views on the current situation and the future of Hong Kong.
In a sincere, pragmatic and humble manner, the Government will adhere to the people-based principle in building a caring, harmonious, inclusive and fair society in Hong Kong.