27 October 2016
Elizabeth "Libby" Wong Chien Chi-lien says young people should have been given roles to play in the government. Photo: HKEJ
Elizabeth "Libby" Wong Chien Chi-lien says young people should have been given roles to play in the government. Photo: HKEJ

Libby Wong: Let’s give our youth bigger say in government

Government officials apparently lack credibility, for how could a matter about a daughter’s personal flight develop into a scandal of such proportions that it would draw local condemnation and international attention?

That’s how retired government official and legislator Elizabeth “Libby” Wong Chien Chi-lien views Hong Kong’s current political landscape.

Now 79, Wong says she understands very well the rage and frustration felt by the youth.

“If I were to write a letter to the young people,” she says, “I would start by urging them to stay diligent and fearless.

“However, I would also highlight the fact that they have to be more realistic. Nobody — the world doesn’t owe you anything, I would tell them. It would be too much if they demand this and that. Since society is everyone, they should also think of their social responsibility.”

Wong, who served in various government positions, regards sincerity as the essential quality of a legislator.

“The legislators should adhere to their political standpoint before and after the election and never should they deceive their supporters,” she says.

“For instance, one shall not call themselves a democrat and then become something else after being voted into the chamber. They should speak for the interest of the Hongkonger, not for themselves.”

Wong served as a member of Legislative Council, representing the community, social and personal services functional constituency from 1995 to 1997.

But she refused to join the Provisional Legislative Council between 1997 and 1998.

“Joining the Provisional Legislative Council would violate my principles. I was not particularly against the Chinese authorities, but it was simply wrong to split up the council. I was against it 20 years ago and now I still am.”

Back then, there was no such thing as lack of a quorum because no lawmaker would be absent from the council meetings. Filibustering was also unheard of.

“But I understand the use of filibustering because no other strategy seems to work over the past few years,” she says.

Many Hong Kong people are dissatisfied or even fed up with the present situation.

Wong believes the “one country, two systems” principle is an unprecedented concept, but it is difficult to implement.

Her idea is that the next chief executive of Hong Kong should appoint secretaries and undersecretaries who have a broad electorate base and of different political parties.

Such a strategy would give the government a higher chance of being accepted by the majority of the people.

For example, the next CE, who is going to be appointed in 2017, should handpick members of his or her team only after winning the election and should consider appointing members of the 2016 Legislative Council.

She also notes that there are already some capable people in the system, yet there has been a mismatch between their expertise and the roles they are given in government.

Wong cites the case of Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, the current secretary for transport and housing who has a pro-democracy background.

She thinks Cheung should have been named the education secretary instead.

The government, instead of driving away young people, should have given them roles to play in the government and a bigger say in the system. A youth minister could be appointed, for example.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 4.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ writer

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