Push for child commission as poverty grows

Concern groups have reiterated calls for a Commission on Children to address issues related to child poverty.

Stella Wong

Friday, April 21, 2017

Concern groups have reiterated calls for a Commission on Children to address issues related to child poverty.

A public hearing session was conducted yesterday at a Legislative Council children's rights subcommittee meeting.

Before the meeting, about 20 representatives from the Alliance for Children Development Rights protested outside Legco, urging the government to set up the body as soon as possible.

One group said the child poverty rate had reached 16 percent - higher than the overall rate of poverty - adding that many grassroots children cannot enjoy equal learning opportunities and rights for diversified development, such as lacking computers for school assignments and resources for extracurricular activities.

Others said there have been 10,000 cases of child abuse over the past 10 years, and that children are increasingly subjected to pressure over studying.

Subcommittee chairman Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung started the meeting by criticizing the government for not taking any action to set up the commission, even though the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged it to and the Legco had passed related non-binding motions twice.

Hong Kong Family Law Association representative Azan Marwah said the failures to meet the promises of the Convention on the Rights of the Child "cannot be remedied by piecemeal analysis or particular bureau or departments."

If the commission is not set up, "the welfare of children will always face obstacles of conflicting bureaus and departmental priority," he said.

However, Kong Pak-ho, a youth representative, fears a commission would become "another black hole of public funding," as there are a lot of counterproductive commissions and departments, which keep asking Legco for more money.The Innovation and Technology Bureau, he said, had pushed forward no major policy initiative since its formation in 2015.

Separately, a 10-year-old boy who was missing from a care center for five days was found unharmed in a McDonald's restaurant yesterday. He told his mother he left because he was being bullied.

Ho Yau-yip, who has difficulty reading, was spotted at the restaurant in Tin Shui Wai. He said he had not eaten for a day and was sent to Tuen Mun Hospital for checks.

"My son said he was frequently bullied at the dormitory. He felt very upset so he sneaked out," his mother said.

Ho went missing on Sunday, the day he returned to Island Hostel in Shek Pik, which is a Hong Kong Student Aid Society dormitory for boys with emotional and behavioral problems, after staying at home for the Easter holiday last Friday and Saturday.

Ho took a bus from Shek Pik police post to Tung Chung, where he took the E34A bus to Tin Shui Wai and then slept inside the restaurant. Some citizens recognized him and reported to the police.

Ho lived with his mother in Tin Hang Estate, Tin Shui Wai, before moving into the dormitory eight months ago.

Hostel superintendent Chan Yiu-lun said the dormitory is investigating the situation.