By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Young people in Macau are no longer silent and passive, but have a strong initiative and dare to voice their opinions and thoughts nowadays, the Macao Youth Federation’s vice-chairwoman Chan Sao Chai said.
She made the remark on the sidelines of the press conference yesterday to introduce the 2010 program aimed at training young people’s capabilities to discuss political affairs.
“I feel that nowadays the young people have a strong commitment and also a strong sense of current affairs,” she said. “When we went for exchange trips outside of Macau, some of the people we met with said that their impression on Macau’s young people had changed.
“I also found that young people in the past few years have improved in a way that they now have a very strong initiative and are no longer as silent as they were before,” she added.
Macau’s youth were in the public spotlight recently, following their moves to take to the streets on May 1 Labour Day and also to attend the June 4 candlelight vigil on Saturday.
“It is a positive change for young people, who mainly refer to those who were born after 1980, because our society is also improving,” Chan told reporters.
And the power of young adults to organise events through the use of the Internet and social networking websites certainly cannot be overlooked.
“It’s quite a good channel for them to express their opinions on the Web,” she said.
“I support their actions to stage protests or join assemblies as long as they don’t break the social order and can express their demands in a rational way. Our society should give them space and a platform to do it.”
Chan also said that society will be able to achieve diversified development when there is a channel available for young people to speak up.
It was reported that around 400 people, a record high number over the past decade according to the organiser, had joined the vigil on Saturday at Senado Square to commemorate the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. A large number of the attendees were young adults.
Chan Sao Chai said it showed that young people in Macau are getting more and more concerned about their motherland and they want to learn more about the history of China. “There are no big problems as long as society can give them the accurate information,” she added.
“It was a healthy move for the youth [to join the vigil] and actually had long-term advantages for them to foster their capabilities to discuss political affairs.”
Yet, what the local youth also need right now is an opportunity to step out of Macau and explore the world, Chan said.
“I hope the SAR government can provide more resources for the young people to visit other places in order to broaden their horizons and global vision.”
Organised by the Macao Youth Federation for the third consecutive year, the 2010 training program will be held from July 2010 to June 2011 for 100 local college students or young adults aged between 18 and 39 who are interested in strengthening their skills to talk politics.
The program is made up of nine parts which include seminars on the Macau Basic Law and the ‘one-country, two system’ policy; workshops focusing on public policy analysis, making public speeches and the skills of debating; classes to learn about China’s political and legal systems; a trainee-led forum to discuss and analyse current affairs; as well as field trips to Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Applications will be closed on June 23 and a MOP500 tuition fee is applied. Trainees who achieve a 80 percent attendance rate will be given a course completion certificate.
Last year, the program was only opened to people from 18 to 35 years old. Chan Sao Chai explained that the increase in age ceiling this year was prompted by the presence of a large group of young people in the job market who are keen to voice their concerns through different means such as on the Web or newspapers.
Trainees from last year’s program were divided into 10 teams and each of them had to work on a research project and then submit a report before the summer vacation.
Chan said the federation plans to present the research findings or the survey results to the government after the summer holiday.