Vox Parva: What have we left the children?


Benedict Keith Ip

Are we able to impart stories, serious knowledge and studies to our next generation? If so, in what occasions are we able to do it?
I’ve kept asking myself this question since I returned from Hong Kong in October. The story begins when I had a roundtable discussion about Vienna as an example of a livable city with Maria Vassilakou and Paul Zimmerman. Ms. Vassilakou is the Deputy Mayor of the City of Vienna and Deputy Governor of the Federal State of Vienna; and Mr. Zimmerman is a well-known HK politician – a Southern District Councilor. Being introduced by Dr. Franz Gassner who is from Vienna too, I was inspired to see what makes a city charming, interesting as well as competitive in terms of a world-class setting: To create a so called smart and good city, the city should ensure that it is good for children. A rich city is not determined monetarily, but how far it cares about its stakeholders.
No matter whether it’s a theory, moral concept, common sense, or a service, anything that children can understand or be used will be adaptable for adults in most cases. Yet we always neglect their voices. In another sense, we simply decide for them the things that we think are best. Yet in Macau we do even not have enough nursery or pre-kindergarten services to take care of our children; they are forced to compete among the unbalanced and incomplete government policies.
The reflection continued when I joined a study mission in early November about docent and museum services in Taiwan. Sizes, topics and presentations can be very different, but there is one common factor: They are places where every citizen is invited to join, and the needs of different age groups and social classes can be satisfied. Public areas, green areas and play areas are well designed for “walkability”. They have dedicated services to children and families aside from the standard presentation of relics and beautiful objects. In the National Palace Museum for instance, some selected relics are organized in a way that youngsters can play and learn interactively. Courses are delivered regularly on a daily basis to teach them how to appreciate the aesthetics and history of the objects, while all seriousness is maintained in order to keep attracting them to come. It was amazing to hear some kids tell me that the museum is more than a place to play in, but a place which they can share and can be proud of.
“And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” How far are we in Macau proud of our history? Only to the point when it can be traded as an asset for tourism? A city is far too shallow when the protagonists are not our children. In such a way our creativity and liveliness will be forfeited, and the city is truly filled with adults suffering from dullness and stubbornness.

Categories Opinion