Disqualified Youngspiration lawmaker Yau Wai-ching has said the reason young people turn to protest is because peaceful methods of expression did not work and their demands were ignored by authorities. She also said that the government’s plans to consult young people “exist in name only.”

At RTHK’s City Forum on the political participation of youth held Sunday afternoon, guests were asked to respond to the recent jailing of 16 pro-democracy activists.

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Yau Wai-ching (L) and Senia Ng (R) speaking at the forum. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

In response to pro-Beijing Tsuen Wan district councillor Nixie Lam’s criticism that young people use the “wrong methods” to express themselves, such as getting involved in clashes, Yau said that young people start out with peaceful methods of expression, but are forced to turn to protests when their demands are ignored.

An example of this was when University of Hong Kong students surrounded members of the school’s governing council last year, demanding reform of the school’s management, Yau said.

“If we only look at the result and not the reason, everything that was initially right will become wrong,” she added.

Lam, however, said these methods were not permitted by the law and that the outcome was not desired by anyone.

Democratic Party member Senia Ng said that the Secretary of Justice’s request to the courts to review the sentences gave the impression that the government “completely cannot make room for the voices of the young people,” and questioned whether there were political reasons involved in the decision.

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Students surround HKU Council members demanding management reform in 2016. File photo: Stand News.

When asked whether she was interested in serving as a member of the government’s central policy unit, Yau said that there have long been consultation mechanisms, but the government did not seem to take opposing opinions into account.

Yau said that if the government does not change its attitude, there would be no results regardless of how many youth commission bodies it establishes. She added that consultation mechanisms were supposed to be opened to everyone, and did not exist for several representatives to give their opinions.

“The public’s voices are supposed to be brought [into the government] through such consultation mechanisms, but these consultation mechanisms exist in name only,” she said.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.