Hong Kong Religious Leaders Urge Government to Control Internet Cafés

Hong Kong Media reports rise in violence and gambling in campuses. Groups place blame on easier accesibility to violent and pornographic material at internet cafés.
( [email protected] ) Jan 25, 2005 08:38 PM EST

The Colloquium of Six Religious Leaders of Hong Kong released a public statement recently, to call upon the Hong Kong government to take more control on the internet cafés for the teenagers.

The statement said that the general Hong Kong society shows less and less respect for ethics and social morals, particularly in the youth. As reported by the Hong Kong press, campuses citywide have experienced higher rates of violence and gambling than in previous decades. The statement also specified that many under-age persons can easily access violenct and pornographic materials atinternet cafés.

Although the government issued a statute for monitoring internet cafés in 2003, the law has no effect on the current situaiton, says various religious leaders. The report said:

"...as there is no effective management of the internet cafés, it is very easy for teenagers to approach websites with violence and pornography, which harms them a lot. According to related research, the average time of internet-usage amongst the youth is set at two hours per day, However, most of teenagers use internet for entertainment purposes; only few of them use it to get useful information."

The leaders said that it was really "unwise" for the youth to waste their time on the Internet. As for the the government, leaders urged that it should regulate content available at internet cafés.

The leaders gave three pieces of advise to the Hong Kong government:

First, quickly set up regulations for the number of internet cafés.

Second, monitor the websites more strongly to prevent teenagers from visiting harmful sites;

Third, restrict teenagers under sixteen years from entering internet cafés.

The Colloquium of the Six Religious Leaders of Hong Kong was founded in 1978. Their core focus is on social moral. However, the colloquium usually express encouragement for moral change, and seldom offers criticism. This, many sources say, suggest that the situation between internet cafés and Hong Hong youths cannot be ignored anytime

The colloquium includes Christians, Catholics, Taoists, Buddhists, Confucianists and Muslims. The current Christian and Catholic representatives in the colloquium respectively are Reverend Thomas Soo Yee-po, the president of the HKCC, and Bishop Zen Ze-Kium of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong.