• Failure of young people to develop decent character risks inflicting damage on wider society, says ex-chief executive
  • Leung makes comments as youngsters feature prominently in another mass anti-government march on Sunday, demanding full withdrawal of extradition bill
Ex-chief executive C Y Leung has spoken of the importance of character development among young people, in comments that coincided with the latest in a series of protests in Hong Kong. Photo: Winson Wong

Former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying has urged the younger generation to focus on being "good" people to avoid damaging society, as he blamed schools and parents for not doing enough to support their development as citizens.

The former chief executive's comments came as an organiser estimate of 430,000 demonstrators, including many young people, took to the streets on Sunday in yet another protest against the government's handling of the now-suspended extradition bill.

Leung, now a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top advisory body, was questioned during a book launch at the Hong Kong Book Fair in Wan Chai on Sunday about how young people could take advantage of opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, a central government scheme to link Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities.

C Y Leung (second from left) and his successor as chief executive Carrie Lam (second from right) raise a toast at the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from China to Britain on July 1. Photo: Reuters

In his response, he blamed schools and parents for being too busy and not teaching children how to be a decent person.

"You first learn to be a human, before doing anything else," he said.

"Regardless of how capable a person is, if he does not learn to be a human, he is not a good man and will cause great harm to society.

"The more capable he is, the more harmful he is to society."

While Leung had not mentioned the crisis triggered by the extradition bill row, his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa blamed the recent protest violence partly on the teaching of liberal studies at secondary schools.

However, critics have said the government's lack of communication with young people was at the heart of the bill crisis.

In the wake of escalating protests, the administration pledged to promote a new governance style, which involved listening more to members of the public from all walks of life.

Police fire rounds of tear gas after stand-off with extradition bill protesters

The now-suspended extradition bill would have allowed Hong Kong to transfer suspects to jurisdictions with which it lacked extradition agreements, including mainland China.

The controversy has triggered a series of mass protests, sieges of police headquarters and the storming of the Legislative Council since early June.

A march in Sha Tin last Sunday ended in bloody clashes between protesters and police, leaving 28 people injured including 13 officers.

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