'Hong Kong is a powder keg waiting to explode' - RTHK
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'Hong Kong is a powder keg waiting to explode'

2021-01-03 HKT 15:10
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  • 'Hong Kong is a powder keg waiting to explode'
Researchers have on Sunday described Hong Kong as a “powder keg waiting to go off", warning that social unrest may return after a survey they conducted showed an overwhelming majority of local students lacking trust in the government.

The Chinese University’s School of Public Health and Primary Care interviewed 250 senior secondary school pupils last year, and 87 percent of them said they have no confidence in the administration.

Around 70 percent of the respondents, meanwhile, also said they don’t trust strangers in the community.

Terry Lum, the head of HKU’s Department of Social Work and Social Administration who also participated in the study, said Hong Kong is like a powder keg waiting to explode.

He said he believes the majority of Hong Kong people do not trust the government, and the remaining minority either genuinely believe in the authorities or pretend that they do.

Lum said the situation in the SAR is worse than the polarisation in the United States, making the city very difficult to govern.

“We went through a lot of social movements in the last decade, for example the Occupy Central and the social unrest last year. But throughout the process, I don’t think the government has done much to defuse the tension within the society,” he said.

“If we don’t defuse the bomb and remove the gunpowder, as long as there is a tiny seed of fire, then there will be another big explosion in future. If we don’t do something proactively, this really is an unresolvable problem.”

He urged those in power to be broad-minded and be willing to apologise for mistakes they made, saying trust cannot be built if officials don't respect the views of others.

Lead researcher Angel Lai from CUHK also expressed concern over the findings, saying many young people don't trust the government because they feel that they don’t have a say in policy-making.

“What we found is that those who have a chance or feel that they have a chance to participate in youth policy tends to say that they trust the government more,” Lai said, adding that young people wish to be treated as equals and be regarded as assets - rather than problems - in society.

“When we talk about political participation it might be something down the road when trust is built. So the first thing we need is participation in community work, in bringing good to the community first,” she said.

Lai also said the recent discovery of Romanesque arches in an underground reservoir in Sham Shui Po may be a good opportunity for the government to better engage the public.

She proposed organising an open competition to allow young people to submit their ideas on how to conserve the century-old cistern.