Date
22 October 2019
Protesters gather outside the Legco complex on Monday night, shortly before radicals broke into the building. Listening to these angry young people is the first step. Understanding them should follow. Photo: AFP
Protesters gather outside the Legco complex on Monday night, shortly before radicals broke into the building. Listening to these angry young people is the first step. Understanding them should follow. Photo: AFP

The first step to mend fences with young people is to listen

The storming of the Legislative Council complex by radical protesters on Monday undoubtedly constitutes an act of violence.

Violence must be condemned, and police have every right to bring those who have taken part in the massive break-in to justice.

Yet we also feel compelled to point out that the occupation of the Legco complex was not a single isolated incident.

Rather, we believe it was an explosive result of accumulated public grievances that had been piling up through ceaseless protests against the extradition bill over the past few months.

The incident may represent the tip of the iceberg of our deep-rooted social conflict.

As such, denouncing violence in the strongest terms is definitely not the only thing that a responsible government should do.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has pledged to change her governance style and reform the way her administration listens to public views. And so we would encourage her to listen well to the views of the young protesters.

Only by understanding the motives behind their acts of violence through sincere dialogue and corresponding solid action can she hope to reduce their animosity towards her administration.

In the meantime, another thing about the massive break-in on Monday that deserves our vigilance is that some young protesters were dead set on pursuing their goals even at the cost of their own lives, while some of them told media that they were prepared to go to jail for what they did.

How could not the chief executive lend an ear to these young people out of empathy when they have already become so desperate that they are ready to sacrifice their own lives in pursuit of their cause?

Listening is the first step. Understanding them should follow.

And since understanding is based on objective facts, we urge the government to open an independent inquiry into a series of incidents including both the June 12 clashes and the July 1 Legco occupation.

If Lam really wants to restore public faith in the government in order for the city to move on and achieve effective governance, she must take the first step, which is to listen to them, with a view to accurately grasping public sentiments through communication.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 3

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal