Generation 40s – 四十世代

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香港青年--革命新一代 ?

2016-09-24

 李世鴻

自反國民教育、雨傘運動到立法會出現年輕新面孔高票當選,新一輩青年人(泛指18到35歲)已經是政治、經濟、教育等政策的有力持份者。他們與香港上一輩的社會棟樑有什麼不同的特質呢?香港各界的領袖又可怎樣與他們協作?

受一位熱心青年服務的社會工作學者啟發,筆者試從流行曲當中揣摩年輕人的情意結,探索一下香港青年人在心態上的年代演變。

譚詠麟在八四年的作品《傲骨》:「誰知我內心多苦悶,一切沒法如願 …… 從開始至今多考驗,手裏利劍常斷。」青年人的內心掙扎及事與願違,歷代如是。不過,當時青年的主流思想是要有志氣,不要給人看低,誓要奮鬥幹一番事業。「不可以,重複這怒叫聲,自信他朝一柱擎天。」當中的精神是我不服,於是我要發奮,在現有的遊戲規則下出人頭地。

對政府不滿世界亦然

九三年Beyond樂隊黃家駒在《海闊天空》中,同樣面對別人冷眼,「多少次,迎着冷眼與嘲笑」,不過,心態及所追求的有點不同:「從沒有放棄過心中的理想……原諒我這一生不羈放縱愛自由。」青年人不一定要攀上職業階梯,相反是高舉自由,追尋理想。可是,心態充滿矛盾,如「背棄了理想,誰人都可以,那會怕有一天只你共我。」當現實與理想衝突時,務實妥協是普遍的想法。

到了一三年,備受年輕人欣賞的樂隊Supper Moment在作品《無盡》中展示出現實與夢想的鴻溝:「夢想於漆黑裏仍然鏗鏘,仍然大聲高唱,仍然期待世界給我鼓掌是妄想。」對理想的追尋更加堅決,如「踏上這無盡旅途……或許到最後沒有完美句號,仍然倔強冒險一一去征討……誰又能鑑定你的醜惡與美好。」也許沒有最好的結果,亦義無反顧,(至少在情感上)革命起來:「人生夢一場革命至蒼老。」

香港中文大學2015/16年度的香港青年生活質素指數為99.68,比上年度跌0.62點,亦較基準年(2012/13)低0.32點,即青年生活質素比之前差。分析顯示,香港青年覺得自己對政府、教育、房屋及就業等息息相關的政策,均未能參與制訂,產生無能及無力的感覺。這可能是眾多青年生力軍擁抱「革命」的概念,並加入社會運動及公民抗命的深層動力。

年輕人對政府不滿及不信任,不是香港獨有,世界亦然。世界經濟論壇在2016年8月公布的《全球傑出青年年度調查》,在所有參與調查的地區中,年輕人(18至35歲)認為政府腐敗(58%的受訪者)、官僚機制失效(30%)及政府缺乏責任感(29%)是本身國家最為緊迫的問題。

宜增加對公眾透明度

有所不同的是對前景的希望及對自己的影響力兩方面。在以上的全球青年調查中,受訪者對當今世界持謹慎樂觀的態度,價值觀積極進取。70%的受訪者認為當今世界充滿機會,50%相信他們可以為本國的決策貢獻積極力量。千禧一代擁護新技術,把對互聯網的連接視為賦權的關鍵。

面對香港年輕人對政府的失望及對自身的無力感,政府、商家、教育界、家庭及社會各方的領袖,都有角色扭轉局面,成就更積極正面的合作。

政府宜主動吸納不同背景的青年加入政府制度,立法會加入了年輕新人的是由選票帶動的開始。對於社會關注的政策,政府以往向大眾的諮詢形式,或向特定持份者的「摸底」,今日已經不足夠。新一代人(或思想)重視自主,政府在制訂重要政策的過程及考慮因素,宜增加對公眾的透明度,甚至容納公開的討論辯論,打破黑箱作業或偏袒財團勢力之嫌疑。

在教育及社會價值觀方面,學校與家長值得推動孩子發展多元潛能,跨越應試思維與操練。政府透過大學積極協助有志有才能創業的年輕人,讓不同才能的年輕人有渠道去追尋理想,發揮所長,貢獻社會。商界與消費者亦有角色給予一些非主流的產品與服務機會。整體而言,香港可推廣尊重及欣賞不同才能及志向的大都會文化。成功人生不一定要名校高分、證書獎項、高職厚薪、名車豪宅等。

今日的青年是明日的領袖,他們富有「革命」的志向才能後浪推前浪。他們衝擊政府,亦衝擊今日的我們反思如何締造多元進步的社會。

作者為香港科技大學工商管理碩士校友會會員


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No reason to stay, no way to go for many of Hong Kong’s disillusioned young people

South China Morning Post
News›Hong Kong›Education & Community
EMIGRATION
2016-11-24

Cannix Yau

After studies showed many young people want to leave the city owing to politics and a lack of social mobility, experts say there is light at the end of the tunnel, as long as the government rights some major wrongs

Recent studies showing an alarming 40 per cent of people want to leave the city have ­renewed the debate on what makes Hong Kong an increasingly frustrating city to live in.

In particular, young people aged 18 to 30 were most unhappy with life, according to studies released last month by both Chinese University of Hong Kong and policy think tank Civic Exchange.

The findings are unnerving as young people are the city’s future, providing a key impetus for its ­dynamics.

Critics have pointed to the enormous sense of despair that engulfs Hong Kong as the key ­reason for people’s frustrations, which they believe have more to do with the city’s politics than its social and economic aspects.

To make matters worse, the harsh reality that only well-off families are able to put away some savings just adds to their woes and makes their dream of starting a new life elsewhere all the more unattainable.

A recent study by the Legislative Council on the financial ­challenges faced by Hong Kong households showed families earning below HK$35,500 a month would not be able to save with the city’s housing affordability the lowest among 367 leading cities in a global study.

Without hope for both the city’s outlook and their own sake, people’s desire of escaping the place is unstoppable, whether they can leave or not.

Failing to see any light at the end of the tunnel, some who ­cannot leave may resort to radical means, such as advocating for Hong Kong’s independence to vent their frustrations.

The key questions are: will Hong Kong be a stagnant place with no future? And how should we buck this worrying trend and raise hope in our youngsters?

Despite the doom and gloom, critics are confident that there is still a glimmer of hope, as long as the future government can rectify some bad policies and put effective governance back on track.

For Andrew Fung Ho-keung, director and CEO of the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute, the most important thing for the city’s next leader is to restore people’s faith by striking a better balance in the “one country, two systems” policy.

The way out for Hong Kong, he believes, is to reactivate the political reform whereby people may feel hope and opportunities for Hong Kong.

Fung said all eyes are now on the upcoming chief executive election as people still look for hope from the next leader.

“Their desperation hasn’t reached a point of no return. They still expect our next leader to fight for the best interests for Hong Kong with strong and shrewd leadership,” he said.

Fung believes the sense of ­despair originates from an ­increasing lack of faith in the ­concept of “one country, two ­systems” that forms the basis of the city’s governance.

His views echoed Chinese University poll findings that showed dissatisfaction with the current governance.

[The key questions are: will Hong Kong be a stagnant place with no future?]

“In view of the current radicalised politics and squabbles at the Legislative Council, people generally feel unhappy living in Hong Kong,” Fung said.

“In particular there has been a lot of meddling from Beijing over the city’s affairs like the latest ­interpretation of the Basic Law. People naturally have a strong sense of hopelessness about Hong Kong’s future.”

For young people who are more sensitive and don’t have sufficient resources to improve themselves, they feel all the more frustrated living in the city.

Fung said it explained the growing trend of Hongkongers emigrating to Taiwan because the required personal capital threshold is lower compared to other places with a relatively low cost of living, and it has higher democracy and freedom levels than those in Hong Kong.

The Chinese University study also showed Taiwan was the preferred destination, with 16.3 per cent of respondents picking the island. Australia and Canada came in second and third place.

According to the Security ­Bureau, about 7,000 people ­emigrated last year, down from 9,800 in 2005. However, 891 moved to Taiwan last year, up 28 per cent from 2014, according to its immigration agency figures.

Also, the government’s heavy-handed approach in suppressing the pan-democrats – especially the pro-independence localists – and the stalled political reform have fanned the flames of conflict and despair, Fung said.

“After all, non-establishment lawmakers were elected by 60 per cent of those who cast their ­ballots. Treating them as public enemies is disrespecting the public mandate. How can people feel happy when the government is ­ignoring their opinion?” he asked.

[Critics have pointed to the enormous sense of despair that engulfs Hong Kong as the key ­reason for people’s frustrations.]

“Advocating for independence is not right, but the government should handle this issue more delicately.”

The stalled political reform last year also added fuel to Hongkongers’ frustrations as they were denied any say over the election of the chief executive, he added.

Shih Wing-ching, founder of property agency Centaline agrees, believing people’s dissatisfaction is more to do with ­Beijing’s meddling policies than anything else.

“Through expressing their wish to quit Hong Kong, people in fact made a political statement against Beijing’s policies on Hong Kong,” he said.

Still, the Civic Exchange study showed one-third of respondents were most concerned about housing over other policies, of whom more than half said ­tackling property prices was the most pressing housing issue.

The housing conditions, Shih said, had gradually improved with the average living space per ­person in public housing standing at 13.1 square metres this year from 12 square metres 10 years ago as the government continued to increase housing supply.

But these improvements had failed to cater to the rising ­demand for more personal space.

Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching, one lawmaker at the centre of the oath-taking controversy, said young people could not even afford a proper place in which to have sex, let alone buy their own home.

To make matters worse, people face soaring property prices and long waits for public housing.

“Unfortunately nowadays the wage increases fail to catch up with the growth of property ­prices.

People therefore are pessimistic about climbing up the housing ladder,” Shih said.

Normally property prices undergo a market cycle, however, he pointed out that the upward cycle had lingered for too long fuelled by the growing demand of mainland customers who propped up prices by snapping up luxury flats.

To address those who want their own homes, he suggested the government allocate housing supply exclusively for first-time Hong Kong buyers.

From a social point of view, Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, of the department of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong, said many youngsters were unhappy ­because they felt they were being neglected by the government and saw no way out of the situation.

“They don’t think they are part of the engagement process for any policy formulation,” he said. “They can’t see their voices being reflected or listened to by the ­government.”

Yip blamed the government’s uneven distribution of resources for the lack of opportunities for youngsters, citing the one-off grant scheme for NGOs, as these organisations have been struggling to raise funds to create more social enterprise and start-up ­programmes for young people.

“They don’t see a stable career path or opportunities for climbing the social ladder,” Yip said. “This is a form of social injustice.”
Leaving city is costly

“The future looks bad … and if there is no solution to the problem, why not leave?” asked Konvic Yiu Chu-kong.

Emigration is a topic that often pops up in conversations between Yiu, 26, and his friends. But taking the next step is often less straightforward.

He has spent his whole life in the city, but the idea of leaving occurred to the recent graduate when he began his education at university about five years ago and started to feel there were “poor and absurd” things happening in local politics.

He cited the controversy surrounding the use of taxpayers’ money to fund construction of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link and police handling of the so-called “umbrella revolution” in 2014, which saw officers use pepper spray, batons and tear gas against protesters.

He also pointed to the ongoing Legislative Council fiasco sparked by two recently ousted localist lawmakers insulting China in their oaths of office and referring to Hong Kong as a nation.

Housing is another reason the computer science graduate, who works as a marketing trainee, is considering a move. He pointed to research that says a university graduate could previously only afford one sq ft of a flat in Taikoo Shing, a coveted residential development in Quarry Bay, with one month’s salary, but now not even that is affordable, making the idea of purchasing a home almost impossible.

Yiu said he would consider moving to Japan, Taiwan or Australia, with Taiwan being the most feasible option.

“Taiwan has universal suffrage so you can vote for a leader that represents you,” he said.

Emigration remains just an idea however, with concerns about family holding him back.

He said emigrating to Taiwan would not be easy because his current job has not equipped him with particularly specialised skills, meaning job hunting overseas would be difficult. If he were to take the investment migration route it would take a long time to save up the money.

Consequently he is still undecided about whether he will eventually go for it.

If the next chief executive of the city makes Hong Kong better and the political situation improves, he might be less inclined towards migrating, he said.
Enough is enough

Leaving the city for good never occurred to 28-year-old Hongkonger Lau Ming-hei and his wife until a couple of years ago.

Shortly after getting married in 2014, the couple endured the Occupy experience.

Lau said the civil disobedience movement prompted them to seriously consider emigrating.

Lau Ming-hei hopes to move to Australia in two years’ time. Photo: Peace Chiu

Among some of the main push factors was the lack of democracy, he said. “The Hong Kong government is easily controlled by China and the direction Hong Kong takes is contingent on what China wants; Hongkongers do not have a chance [to make decisions on many important matters].”

Lau believes the city’s “relatively poor” human rights record worsened during the Occupy movement.

High housing prices are also driving the young couple away. Currently renting a flat in Lam Tin, Lau said the size – about 400 sq ft – was not ideal, but they had to make do as it already took up about a quarter to a fifth of their household income.

They did not dare dream about buying a flat as it was too pricey, while public housing was also out as their income exceeded the limit.

The decision to move was not only for themselves, but for their two-month-old son and six-year-old poodle.

Lau said the effects of academic pressure in Hong Kong were another factor. The guitar and drums teacher was critical about the lack of diversity in development, such as in arts and culture and animal welfare, in Hong Kong.

“When constructing the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau Bridge, the government did not care about the survival of Chinese white dolphins, an endangered species,” Lau, who is also an animal rights activist, said.

Lau believes they have a good chance of emigrating, with his wife working as a nurse.

After doing some research, they decided that Australia would be the right fit, as nurses are in high demand. Moreover, they believe the education system is less stressful Down Under and there is more democracy, diversity in development and better protection for both humans and animals.

“A lot of my friends have discussed the possibility of moving, but not everyone has the ability… For my family, as long as we could move, we would move,” he said.