CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Face challenges with faith commission urges

HONG KONG (SE): In the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong, Christians have been urged to care for marginalised people and value the formation of young people.
In a statement published in Kung Kao Po on June 18, the Justice and Peace Commission said that Hong Kong people have been facing increasingly tough situations since the handover, which makes it all the more imperative for Christians in Hong Kong cling to their faith and Catholic social teaching.
The commission said that while certain pledges were made by Chinese government, like One Country, Two Systems, Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong, as well as a high degree of autonomy, it has repeatedly meddled with Hong Kong’s internal affairs. 
The statement noted that the Chinese government has reneged on its promise of universal suffrage and made the so-called 831 decision—the pronouncement made by Standing Committee of the National People Congress on 31 August 2014 setting additional requirements for the nomination of the city’s chief executive.
Addressing the matter people’s livelihood, the commission pointed out that the Hong Kong government has continued to pander to tycoons, conveyed benefits to them and turned a blind eye to the widening gap between the rich and poor. It also accused the government of ignoring labour rights issues like the universal retirement protection scheme and the legislation of standard working hours.
On July 1, the Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs, together with the Justice and Peace Commsion is scheduled to hold a prayer service at the Methodist Church, Wai Chai.
Speaking to the Kung Kao Po, Dorothy Lee Ching-man, secretary general of the Commission for Labour Affairs, urged people to stand up for the rights of the marginalised and uphold economic justice. She stressed that a democratic regime is beneficial to the balanced development of society. 
She stated that the government has failed to protect the rights of workers and the marginalised over the past 20 years due to the influence of the business sector in the Legislative Council and existing policies favouring the rich, one example being the long overdue legislation of maximum working hours. 
She pointed out that although the Minimum Wage Ordinance was passed by the Legislative Council in 2011, wage levels have not caught up with inflation.
She said the plight of workers has been ignored since before the handover and expressed the hope that the incoming chief executive will pay more attention to labour rights.
She observed that since the handover, the majority of Hong Kong people have tended to prioritise their own interests and strongly criticise measures that support those newly-arrived in the territory. She believes this mentality should be discouraged as the needy should be helped regardless of background. 
Lee said that journeying with the marginalised, such as workers and ethnic minorities, has given her the most memorable experiences over the past decades. She encouraged people to approach the poor and treat them with empathy.
Anthony Fung Ying-him, a member of the Catholic Board of Communications and the director of the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he has observed that young people accept their identity as Hong Kong citizens after the handover. He also sees that, compared to in the 1990s, young people today are more concerned with social issues due to better education and the popularity of the social media.
However, he observes that their main challenges at present are the influence of a money-oriented mentality, as well as career and housing problems. He believes that the Church should strengthen its spiritual counselling and formation in life planning for young people.

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