The government is to set up two new internship programmes in China for young Hongkongers, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam has announced.

The programmes include a giant panda project in Wolong, Sichuan Province, and an internship involving the conservation of artifacts at the Palace Museum in Beijing. The announcement was made amid a recent controversy surrounding the Hong Kong Palace Museum, which is led by Lam.

The programmes, open to those aged between 18 and 29, were set up in order to “help youngsters develop their potential and interest in nature and heritage conservation,” Lam said during a speech at a school event related to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the handover on Monday. Lam is tipped to resign and join the chief executive race.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

“Details of the programmes, including recruitment of interns, will be announced in the first quarter of 2017, but I have to forewarn that we are offering only limited opportunities, so the competition is going to be very fierce to get into these two internship programmes,” Lam said.

Opportunities for young people

In the speech, she said “Youth is a major focus in our 20th anniversary celebrations, whether in terms of events, activities or projects.”

“Indeed, over the last two weeks, I have signed on behalf of the Hong Kong SAR Government two very important Memorandums of Understanding to take forward two projects,” she said, then named the building of the Hong Kong Palace Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District, and the new innovation and technology park at the Lok Ma Chau Loop.

“These two projects were conceived and developed very much with young people in mind, because we want to give our young people diversified opportunities – that is, not all of you need to go into banking, financial services, et cetera. You have a future in innovation and technology, as well as cultural and creative industries.”

Hong Kong Palace Museum
Photo: GovHK.

The Hong Kong museum will borrow artefacts from the Beijing museum for long-term exhibition. It will be supported with a HK$3.5 billion donation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The surprise announcement of the project last month was made without any prior public consultation. The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority announced last week that it will start public consultation on its design and operation on Monday, but it was suddenly postponed to a Tuesday, as announced on Monday.

The postponement came after a report last Saturday revealed that an architect was appointed without tender to design the museum and was apparently working on the project in June last year, months before government officials formally presented the proposal to board members of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. The authority admitted the incident later that evening.

An activist has submitted an application for a judicial review alleging a potential legal issue as public consultations were not conducted before the project’s announcement.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.