This week, we have three very different stories. Our first is about the perils of leaving your new house unoccupied with an open agreement with the management office. The second is a good question for us all. How important is English as a compulsory subject in schools these days? The third is a penetrating criticism of the Hong Kong Government that is not doing enough for the people of Hong Kong.
Use of empty property
Ms. Lin in Hangzhou found out that the location of a TV series was her vacant villa in Ningbo. She subsequently sued the TV series producer, property company, and broadcasting platform to the court, demanding compensation of nearly 3 million yuan.
The City Court in Ningbo ordered the producers of the TV series to compensate Ms. Lin’s property losses and housing costs. However, it rejected the plaintiff’s compensation for “the act of shooting and broadcasting housing scenes violated the right to privacy.”
It used to be a show room for display, but it is not the private space of the property owner.A lawyer told reporters.
Ms. Lin lives in Hangzhou. In November 2014, she bought a villa of 820 square meters for nearly 30 million yuan. The house was originally a show house and was delivered intact. Because the villa was vacant, and to recover costs of ventilation and maintenance, Ms. Lin signed a letter of entrustment with the community property managers in 2015 and handed them the keys to the property.
In September 2019, Ms. Lin watched a TV series at her home in Hangzhou and discovered that the heroine was ‘sleeping’ in the bed of the master bedroom of her villa. After rushing back to the villa to check, Ms. Lin found damage to the facilities in the house, including broken glass, stained carpets, damaged elevators, and worn furniture.
In November 2019, Ms. Lin sued the TV series producer, the property company, and broadcasting platform. At the first court hearing in March last year, Ms. Lin learned that another series was also filmed in her villa.
The court held that the production companies of the two TV series entered the house for filming without the consent of the owner of the house. It caused damage to the house and the items in the house. Therefore, it should pay corresponding occupancy fees and compensate for the corresponding losses.
Regarding whether the action of the crew entering the house involved breaking privacy, the court held that the house’s layout, decoration, and furniture were in place before she bought the property. Therefore, none of them can be directly identified as the plaintiff’s private property.
The house was used as a show house before the purchase and was shown to the public. The plaintiff did not change the internal structure, decoration, furniture after purchasing the house. She did not make any changes to any part of it. There are no items in the house that reflect the plaintiff’s personality and identity.
The crews had no intention of obtaining, spying, intruding, divulging, or disclosing the plaintiff’s privacy. They had not violated the plaintiff’s personal freedom or personal dignity, and thus this claim not constitute an infringement of the right to privacy.
However, the court also found that the property company opened the door for the two TV drama crews, allowed them to film in the house, and charged the venue rental and compensation fees to provide to the two TV dramas. The liability of compensation shall be jointly and severally liable.
No more compulsory English
In order to learn English, students and parents spend a lot of time and energy. But with our economic and social development, is English really important?
Xu Jin, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, has suggested reforming the status of compulsory English.
Xu Jin pointed out that in the United States, college graduates usually master 30,000 to 50,000 English words. In China, you can pass the English Test if you learn 4,000 words. To enter middle schools, many elementary school students have obtained an English test certificate equivalent to CET-4 or higher. English teaching hours account for about 10% of students’ total class hours, but English is only useful for less than 10% of college graduates. The use the exams is low, and the curriculum is not inclusive.
Xu Jin found, through research, that online translators now provide oral and written translation services in multiple languages including English, not lower than Level 6 of college English, and the technology is very mature.
The low amount of quality education courses in music, physical education, and arts – three primary subjects – is a difficulty faced by schools at all levels. Making English courses no longer compulsory will increase time for quality education. Schools should spend sufficient time to cultivate students’ independent thinking ability, practical ability and innovation ability, and promote students’ all-round development.Xu Jin
Therefore, “English (or any foreign language) need no longer be a compulsory subject for the college entrance examination or part of compulsory education.” Xu Jin said.
The problem of the Hong Kong Government
The central government has recently promoted the concept of patriots ruling Hong Kong. The establishment has agreed in unison. Some other people say that they agree with this principle but they are unhappy that most of the patriots who now rule of Hong Kong are mediocre. Pessimists even lament that there is no real patriot to rule Hong Kong. If this is so, it is really Hong Kong’s tragedy, the misfortune of “one country, two systems.”
Although Hong Kong society has been divided into yellow shirts (democrat) and blue shirts (pro-China) and deeply torn apart, each side has similar opinions on some matters. These include the belief, for example, that the SAR government’s anti-epidemic work has been poor.
Recently a mainland scholar wrote in a Hong Kong newspaper that ” the central government is determined not to create a rubber stamp or loyal time-wasters.” This has also attracted the agreement of some people. Of course, this does not mean that the whole establishment has become a “loyal waste of time”. But does society really have such worries? Many people know it well.
Who are the loyalists in the establishment?
The Hong Kong establishment is a broad governing alliance. They have always occupied most seats in the Legislative Council, and they often have representatives in the Executive Council. It is not uncommon for them to join the government as officials. But what about their political performance?
Lau Kong-wah, who served as Undersecretary of the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau and Secretary of the Home Affairs Bureau, came from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong and did not accomplish much during his tenure. Ho Kai-ming of the Federation of Trade Unions took up the post of Under Secretary of the Labour and Welfare Bureau last year, but it is difficult for the public to see what he has provided to the grassroots. Ho Kai-ming stated in the Legislative Council that “unemployed people do not necessarily face hardship. Some people are unemployed but richer.” This caused party colleague, Kwok Wai-keung, to ‘explode’.
To be fair, after two years of ups and downs in Hong Kong, the establishment is aware of the need for change. The DAB’s “Change Hong Kong” publicity can be described as overwhelming, ranging from community banners to taxi bodies. But since it profile was raised in January, it is still difficult to answer the question of what the DAB has changed except for its slogans. Regarding the budget for the new year, they only saw that they “have their commitment in responding to the epidemic and boosting the economy, but there is still insufficient support for the unemployed.” They seem to be unaware of the fundamental shortcomings of public finances and the lack of industrial policies. The Chairman of the DAB once said that they would send more people to the government to serve as accountable officials. Its Vice Chairman announced that a political philosophy course would be held, and professors such as former Chief Executives and the deputy director of the Basic Law Committee, would be recruited. But if the establishment does not fully grasp the structural issues of Hong Kong, what kind of talent can this cultivate? What is the use of sending two more ‘patriots’ into the government?
When the late national leader Deng Xiaoping proposed in 1988 that “the peoples’ mind will be more liberated and the pace of reform will be faster”, it was based on a deep understanding of China’s development difficulties. He pointed out that China was wasting time from 1957 to the ten years of the Cultural Revolution. The political situation was in chaos and the economy was in a state of slow development and stagnation. Even after the smashing of the “Gang of Four”, chaos still lingered for two years.
Recently, Hong Kong has experienced the ‘umbrella movement’ (2014) and the ‘anti-extradition movement’ (2019).
The Covid epidemic has exposed severe economic and social problems. The Government has always been regarded as patriotic with a broad sense of governance in Hong Kong. Is it aware of the root of the problem? Or are they still affected by old ideologies and continue to wander in political struggles, delaying Hong Kong’s progress?
As the central government is busy advancing the system of patriots ruling Hong Kong, what the establishment must do is not to keep looking for scapegoats, let alone chanting patriotism in a formalistic way, but to face the problem squarely and inwardly. That takes courage.
Establishment people should not forget that the CCP’s requirements for cadres are “red and professional.” The former director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said that requirements for the Hong Kong Chief Executive include not only patriotism and love for Hong Kong, but also the ability to govern and the support of the public. If you think that you can rule the political arena by playing the patriotic banner alone, it is too naive to understand the real situation.