Saturday, 3 February 2018

Where's the Hope?

Many young people are stuck in retail jobs, like the ones in Sogo
Last night I had dinner with some friends and talked about a perennial hot button issue -- housing prices.

One has been keeping track of her home evaluation and while she's pleased to see the price of her flat increasing quickly, at the same time she is dismayed that buying a home is even more impossible for young people in Hong Kong.

Most customers are mainlanders, but are we catering to them?
I had that in mind after dinner I went to the Sogo department store to see what I could buy for myself for Chinese New Year. The place wasn't very busy, with shoppers split between mainlanders and locals, the majority the former.

At one shop space selling sneakers, I was mortified to hear the young female shop assistant's Mandarin was atrocious. It was more Cantonese than Mandarin. Another shoe shop was the same. Another spoke in a tone that was laced with condescension.

Were they high school dropouts? Or they were unable to get into university? It was hard for me to tell, but on the whole most shop assistants' Mandarin skills were not good. Not only that, but their attitude towards their job was hardly enthusiastic.

Young people can't even afford one of these flats in the city
I know retail is not a career path many people aspire to, but surely it would be a motivator to find a way to get out? Or are they resigned to the possibility that this is their job forever? There wasn't any interest in trying to be a cheerful person, nor trying to improve their Mandarin skills.

Is this the generation the Hong Kong government claims it wants to foster? If so it's no wonder mainlanders feel a sense of ambivalence in the city; they want to enjoy it, and yet they are not welcome.

Why?

Preventing Agnes Chow Ting from running in the by-election, scorning the nomination of Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang and the Umbrella Movement for the Nobel Peace Prize, and making no efforts to rein in housing prices and creating more job opportunities for young people shows the government doesn't care about the next generation.

The rift between young people and government grows wider
My friend pointed out the government has been pushing for closer links to China, which has resulted in young people retaliating by becoming "localists", focusing more on Cantonese -- which has resulted in English being left by the wayside.

How can Hong Kong call itself international anymore?

Beijing and the Hong Kong government have a lot to do to heal the rift -- they are the ones who have the power to change things for the better. Giving people hope makes the world go round instead of now, stagnant and bitter.

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