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Monday, November 28, 2016, 00:41

Come talk to me at night, Leung tells youths

By Dara Wang

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has encouraged the city’s young people to gain a solid understanding of social affairs, and welcomed them to make rational exchanges with him more often, including night talks at Government House in future.

He said Government House — the Chief Executive’s official residence — is open to young people who want to discuss their thoughts, aspirations and needs.

Interacting with youth representatives at an event jointly organized by the Home Affairs Bureau and the Commission on Youth on Saturday afternoon, Leung expressed his willingness to listen to youths with different backgrounds and political persuasions. They can make an appointment and visit Government House in small groups, he said.

Young people can accumulate knowledge through active engagement in social issues and public affairs, and lay the foundation for them to come up with fresh ideas to innovate and unleash their entrepreneurial potentials.

Leung said he understood the frustrations and challenges facing today’s young people who want to realize their career objectives, relating his own experience as a young professional who was keen to build a career as a surveyor and started a surveying company in 1993.

He learned firsthand the uncertainties and opportunities an entrepreneur has to deal with, and attributed his success to upholding professionalism and accountability to clients and society.

The Chief Executive recalled that he joined the provisional board of directors of the Land Development Corporation — the predecessor of the Urban Renewal Authority — at a young age and became secretary-general of the Basic Law Consultative Committee in 1988 when he was 34.

Having confidence in the innovative capabilities of young people, Leung encouraged them to give full play to their international vision and language advantages to strengthen Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness.

Acknowledging the city’s slow GDP growth in recent years, he warned that Shenzhen’s GDP per capita may surpass that of the SAR in less than 15 years if their economies grow at the current rates.

Strategic measures need to be taken to speed up economic growth where innovation and entrepreneurship among young people play a crucial role in deciding the city’s future positioning in the nation, Leung said.

He admitted Hong Kong presents two hindrances — an industrial homogeneity and sky-rocketing office rents due to acute land shortage — which may hold back young people with entrepreneurial pursuits.

But Hong Kong does have room for them to start their own business, given so many micro-enterprises thrive in the city. The government has established the Innovative Technology Bureau, along with some investment funds and other financial support to offer further assistance, Leung said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung emphasized the role of co-working space in helping young people start their own business.

So far, there are some 50 co-working places in the city, charging low rents while offering knowledge support and information sharing channels, he said.

Young people who are familiar with sharing economy facilitated by the internet are encouraged to fully utilize the resources of co-working places, So said.

Another key aspect the government is eyeing is nourishing interdisciplinary talents to prepare the city for more crossover innovations among different industries.

But, not all innovations happened in the internet and technology fields, said Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung.

A substantial proportion of innovations were inspired by the integration and collusion among various industries, such as industries of arts, culture, manufacture and agriculture, he explained.

Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said a scholarship has been set up to encourage students in the pursuit of arts, sports and community service, nourishing their interdisciplinary thinking ability and preparing diversified talents for the city’s innovation needs.

A multi-faceted Excellence Scholarship was set up in the 2015/16 academic year to support universities and tertiary institutions in admitting some 20 versatile local undergraduates per year. The scholarship, fully covering tuition fees for recipients’ undergraduate studies, is planned to run for five academic years.
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