Wednesday 23 October 2013

News & Opinions: HKTV and the Hong Kong People

Image from Locky's English Playground
Hypothetical situation:

If you are invited by an important staff of a university to apply for their research program, that staff promised you that as long as you have done your research proposal well enough, you will be admitted. There is no limit to the number of intake. Would you do it?

Let say your answer is 'yes'. You spent your own time and truckloads of hard-earned money for your research, submitted your proposal and then you waited.

While you waited and waited, you continued to produce excellent research results and earned city-wide support and recognition.

Then after precisely 3 years, that is May 2013, you finally heard some sort of a follow-up phone call from the university, asking you,

"If we intend to change our intake/ proposal marking scheme, that we might choose 2 applicants out of 3, what are your opinions?"

You gave your personal views on that, the university thanked you, and you hanged up.

Five months later, that is October 2013, you heard from the university that they have decided to pick 2 applicants out of 3, however, they did not reveal any details of their new proposal marking scheme or allow any amendments of the proposals.

After five more months, the results were out, and you failed to qualify for the program.

Naturally, you want to know why you failed and which parts you have not done enough, but the university simply said,

"The details of the intake/ proposal marking scheme is strictly confidential; the panel has had serious discussions over a bundle of considerations. In general, we can tell you that your competitiveness is not as strong as the other two."

And your name is... Ricky Wong.

I don't usually talk about politics and I don't want to rephrase every argument to pretend that I have written something new, I just want to share some useful English which appeared in this ordeal with those of you who seldom read English newspapers.

ordeal -- (n)[C] a very unpleasant and painful or difficult experience:

Here's what you can learn if you do read newspapers,
Tens of thousands of protesters march down the streets of Hong Kong. Scores of people protested against the government's decision to not grant a broadcasting license to HKTV, in a move which they say will hamper the city's creative industry. (AFP/AARON TAM)
Caption and Image from AFP
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Hong Kong to protest against what they see as a lack of government transparency and accountability.

Police put the turnout at 20,000, while organisers said 120,000 were there.

The controversy was sparked last week when the government declined to grant a free-to-air licence to Hong Kong Television Network.

Critics of the government have urged officials to give a clear account of why the licence was refused.

take to the streets -- When people take to the streets, they express their opposition to something in public and often violently: 
transparency -- (n)[U] the quality of being done in an open way without secrets:
accountability -- (n)[U] Someone who is accountable is completely responsible for what they do and must be able to give a satisfactory reason for it:
turnout -- (n)[C] the number of people who are present at an event, especially the number who go to vote at an election:
spark -- (n)[S]  a first small event or problem that causes a much worse situation to develop:
free-to-air -- (adj) Free-to-air television or radio programmes are broadcast to everyone and can be watched for free.
critic -- (n)[C] someone who says that they do not approve of someone or something:

The demonstration reflects concerns that Hong Kong’s policies favor big business, lack accountability and may undermine freedom of speech in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. A record wealth gap has spurred popular discontent and driven down poll ratings for Leung, the city’s last leader to be chosen by a committee of business and civic groups before full democracy promised in 2017.

undermine -- (vb)[T] to make someone less confident, less powerful, or less likely to succeed, or to make something weaker, often gradually:
autonomous -- (adj) an autonomous organization, country, or region is independent and has the freedom to govern itself:
spur -- (vb)[T]  to encourage an activity or development or make it happen faster:
discontent -- (n)[U] (also discontentmenta feeling of wanting better treatment or an improved situation:
poll -- (n) [C] a study in which people are asked for their opinions about a subject or person:
democracy -- (n) [U] the belief in freedom and equality between people, or a system of government based on this belief, in which power is either held by elected representatives or directly by the people themselves:

Anthony Wong Chau-Sang with HKTV staff
Image from SCMP

Thunderous applause greeted footage of crime thriller The Borderline and infotainment show The Challenge at the protest, a continuation of Sunday's rally against a government decision to leave HKTV out of the free-television market while issuing licences to i-Cable's Fantastic Television and PCCW's HK Television Entertainment. 


Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, newly elected member of the Arts Development Council, said the incident had affected at least 60 students from the Academy for Performing Arts, where he was chairman of the alumni. "This is clearly a black-box operation."


thunderous -- (adj)[before noun] extremely loud:
applause -- (n)[U] the sound of people clapping their hands repeatedly to show enjoyment or approval of something such as a performance or speech:
infotainment -- (n)[U] (in television) the reporting of news and facts in an entertaining and humorous way rather than providing real information:
rally -- (n)[C] a public meeting of a large group of people, especially supporters of a particular opinion:

Gregory So Kam-Leung, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (left)
announced the refusal to Ricky Wong (right) and HKTV's license application
Image from SCMP

The Hong Kong government last week gave in-principle approval for Fantastic Television and HK Television Entertainment Company’s applications for free-to-air television broadcast licences, but denied HKTV’s application, as it was deemed the weakest applicant of the three.

Authorities had on Saturday reiterated that “political considerations” played no part in their decision to deny HKTV a broadcast licence, pointing out that the decision-making process was “fair and followed proper procedure”.

-- Channel News Asia

in principle -- If you agree with or believe something in principle, you agree with the idea in general, although you might not support it in reality or in every situation:
deem -- (vb) [T not continuous] formal to consider or judge something in a particular way:
reiterate -- (vb)[T] to say something again, once or several times:

HKTV staff union chairman Yeung Chi-ho told a phone-in program they had asked the government to explain its decision within seven days.

"The refusal of a license has shattered our dreams, but we don't want to cause chaos," he said. "We only want to express our opinions in a peaceful manner."

-- The Standard

shatter -- (vb) [T] to end or severely damage something:
chaos -- (n) [U] a state of total confusion with no order:

Pan-democratic legislators will raise a motion to invoke the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance to pressure the government to disclose more details into its decision not to grant a free-TV license to HKTV.

The Labour Party's Cyd Ho Sau-lan said she has sent a letter to information technology and broadcasting panel chairman Raymond Wong Yuk-man asking to raise the non-binding motion at the panel's special meeting on November 8.


The Democratic Party's Sin Chung-kai said it is unfair for the government to cite confidentiality to avoid explaining the issue, which is of great public interest.

-- The Standard

motion -- (n)[C] a formal suggestion made, discussed, and voted on at a meeting:
ordinance -- (n)[C] formal a law or rule made by a government or authority:
binding -- (adj) (especially of an agreement) that cannot be legally avoided or stopped:
cite -- (vb)[T] formal to mention something as proof for a theory or as a reason why something has happened:
confidentiality -- (n)[U] the state of being confidential:

Image from

"It could not be a case of all comers being welcomed," Leung said. "We had to evaluate whether the applicants fulfilled specified criteria and to what extent they meet the requirements.

"Our consideration was comprehensive. We definitely had no political agenda, no political consideration."

He added: "We knew that in making the decision, it would be hard to please everyone."

Referring to Wong's move to seek a judicial review, Leung said the government was ready to present its rationale for the rejection of HKTV.

Leung also said the government wanted to increase the number of free- to-air TV licenses in an orderly and progressive manner so there would be healthy competition rather than excessive rivalry.

"We don't want to see a flash in the pan," he said. "We want to see that the progress made is persistent and lasts long term."


And Executive Council discussions had to be confidential, he said, adding: "When government Cabinets in other countries hold meetings they are confidential too, no matter what is on the agendas."

-- The Standard

judicial -- (adj) involving a law court:
rationale -- (n) [C or U] the reasons or intentions for a particular set of thoughts or actions:
progressive -- (adj) developing or happening gradually:
rivalry -- (n)[C or U] a situation in which people, businesses, etc. compete with each other for the same thing:
a flash in the pan -- (idioms) something that happens only once or for a short time and will not be repeated
cabinet -- (n) [C usually singular, + sing/pl verb] (GOVERNMENT) (usually Cabinet) a small group of the most important people elected to government, who make the main decisions about what should happen:

Ricky Wong
Image from

Wong said the government told it any amendment to its application would be seen as a new application. "You change the rules, but ban me from making changes?" Wong asked.

"It was known then that the licenses would not be issued at the same time."

Wong said that it was only a notice and not a request for more information. He said that any change in the number of licenses to be issued would be regarded as a policy change and, hence, a public consultation was required.

"Does the law override policy or does policy override the law?" Wong asked. "Or is the chief executive above all?"

Wong said that in 1988, the government decided to open the broadcasting market and stated clearly there would be no limit to licenses.

What the chief executive-in-council did last week was to override that decision without any public consultation.

Wong said he refused to accept suggestions that HKTV ranked third behind i-Cable's Fantastic Television and PCCW's Hong Kong Television Entertainment. No government official has contacted him since rejection of his application.

"The government should not only explain to me, but also to all Hongkongers," Wong said.

He added: "I was not angry and have been calm. But don't infuriate me ... my psychological state has reached the tipping point."
-- The Standard

amendment -- (n)[U or C] a change or changes made to the words of a text:
public consultation -- (n)[C] or simply consultation, is a regulatory process by which the public's input on matters affecting them is sought. Its main goals are in improving the efficiency, transparency and public involvement in large-scale projects or laws and policies.
infuriate -- (vb) to make someone extremely angry:
psychological -- (adj) relating to the human mind and feelings:
tipping point -- (n)[S or U] the time at which a change or an effect cannot be stopped:

One important lesson I've learnt from Ricky Wong's incident is that, if Ricky Wong can lose HK$900 million and is still fighting, how much worse our luck can be as compared to his? What excuses can we still give ourselves for giving up?

We should all fight for what's right!


Hong Kong Television Network: Protest over licence ruling @ BBC

Thousands in Hong Kong Protest Government’s TV Decision @ Bloomberg

Thousands gather as Admiralty rally airs clips from HKTV shows - for free @ SCMP

Street protest in Hong Kong over HKTV broadcast licence issue @ Channel Newsasia

Ricky Wong to turn HKTV into a production company @ Yahoo Entertainment Singapore

Picture this, a Plan B at HKTV@ The Standard

Legco chief calls for answers in HKTV debacle @ The Standard

The show goes on @ The Standard

Lawmakers turn up heat @ The Standard

`We can't please everyone'  @  The Standard

`Don't infuriate me ...' @  The Standard