Hong Kong religious leaders think about young people on New Year
by Annie Lam
Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and Muslim leaders issue a message for the Year of the Rabbit. In it, they criticise soaring real estate prices and call on the government to help people with fair laws in financial matters.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The leaders of six religions in Hong Kong have expressed their concern over the city’s youth as well as the surge in housing prices that affect local people's lives. They made their views known on the occasion of lunar New Year, which began on Thursday. They include Mgr John Tong Hon, the Catholic bishop of Hong Kong as well as leaders from the Protestant, Buddhist, Chinese Muslim, Taoist and Confucian communities. In their message, they voiced their concerns for youth and the wellbeing of the population.

Fr Edward Chau King-fun represents the Catholic community in the six religions’ secretariat. He told AsiaNews that the city’s religious leaders are set to meet on 15 February at a Protestant school.

The Year of the Rabbit reminds him of the Beatitudes in the Gospel, where the blessed ones have to be gentle, and do justice and care for the poor in society. “It’s important,” he said, “that we learn to live a high moral life and let our hearts be filled with joy.”

In their message, the six religious leaders stress how the quality of life of the city’s population has been negatively affected by the instability of financial markets. They note how much real estate prices have shot up, a situation that will make it nearly impossible for many to buy a home, and will “lead to social unrest and widen the gap between the rich and the poor”.

The religious leaders' message also called on the government to implement policies to help local people build a stable future. They also urge Hong Kongers to manage their assets with prudence and avoid speculative financial activities.

Recently, local media quoted 7th Annual International Housing Affordability Survey released last month, which highlighted the fact that Hong Kong is the least affordable metropolitan area, below places like Sydney, Vancouver and Melbourne. Home prices in Hong Kong have risen 50 percent over the past two years, media reports said.

Meanwhile, the religious leaders' message warns young people against spending too much time on the Internet or engage in unlawful or unethical actions in cyberspace.

Their hope is for young people to be inspired by religious values, uphold the right direction of life, and repent after wrongdoings.