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Filipina officer at NGO on this year’s list of likely youth gov’t advisers

20 March 2019

Gellin Byatt receives her certificate from Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina program officer at PathFinders Hong Kong has been included in the “Diversity List 2019: Youth to Watch,” a pool of ethnic minority young men and women from which the government selects appointees to its advisory committees.

Gellin Byatt, who was born to a British father and a Filipina mother, was one of 24 selected by the Zubin Foundation and leadership consultancy Spencer Stuart Hong Kong from a field of 73 candidates.

Zubin Foundation, the social policy think tank and charity named after Zubin Mahtani Gidumal, describes the list as “a reserve of smart and talented individuals under the age of 35 born and raised in Hong Kong who are willing to serve on government advisory bodies”.

As of 2018, the government has named 16 of them to advisory committees.

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Byatt is the only Filipino on the list this year. Since its launch in 2016, the list has had only five Filipino members, including Byatt.

The previous nominees were Luisa T. Castro and Danilo A. Reyes, both with expertise in education and training, in 2018; Jonnet B. Kudera, charity and non-government services, 2017; and Dr. Theresa Cunanan, education and training, in 2016.

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Zubin Foundation said despite making up 3% of Hong Kong’s population (excluding domestic helpers) and their significant cultural and economic contributions, ethnic minorities were significantly underrepresented in government advisory bodies.

“In fact, among the nearly 1,500 members serving on 100 publicly available advisory bodies, only 1.9% were held by ethnic minorities and 79% of them were “white”, the foundation said. 

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“This meant that voices from an important and growing constituency were not adequately reflected – or even heard – in government policymaking.” 

In 2016, the foundation partnered with Spencer Stuart, a recruitment firm, to launch the List.

According to the 2016 population by-census report, 776,709 youth made up 11.1% of the Hong Kong population. Of these, 71,574 were ethnic minorities aged 15 to 34 years. By 2064, 36% of the population or 2.58 million will be 65 years or older.

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“How we tackle these issues must include ideas and voices of Hong Kong’s youth, who will be taking Hong Kong into the future,” the foundation said.

In her 2017 policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government was setting up five youth committees and doubling the youth representation on advisory bodies.


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