Given the current environment, people tend to read political signs in almost everything, including the city’s favorite pastime – Mark Six.
If not, what else can explain the more-than-usual interest in the city’s latest lottery result?
First, let’s get the news out of the way.
According to an announcement over the weekend, a HK$70 million jackpot will be split up among two dozen lucky ticket holders.
The winners will reap about HK$2.82 million each on average (a tidy sum no doubt, though it won’t get them even a subdivided flat in this city!)
Still, it’s not the reason why the latest Mark Six draw has set off intense chatter among the locals.
The talking point actually is this: for the first time ever, all six lucky numbers were within the 10 count, as they came in at 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 10.
Sharp-eyed observers also pointed out that the numbers 5, 6, 8 and 9 were missing – a fact that immediately stirred a flurry of interesting discussions online.
As people pondered over the significance of the numbers, a popular theory was that it was God’s way of indicating that Hong Kong’s incumbent leader, Leung Chun-ying, will not get a second term in office.
For those unaware, 689 was the number of votes that Leung secured from a 1,200-member election committee in 2012, which helped him become the city’s chief executive.
Now, as the numbers 6, 8 and 9 were missing from the Mark Six draw, it is a sign that Leung would be unlucky in 2017.
Meanwhile, the number 5 – which sounds similar to “negative” in Cantonese – points to a clear message: say no to 689, netizens commented.
However, some people, presumably Leung supporters, offered their own interpretation, arguing that the code should be read as double negative, which means Hong Kong can’t do without 689.
To be fair to Leung, Hongkongers have been somewhat unkind to him in the past couple of years, blaming him for all the city’s ills.
But that has been the misfortune of even his predecessors – Donald Tsang and Tung Chee-hwa.
That said, there is no doubt that Leung is viewed more unfavorably compared to the former top leaders, prompting people to play up signs that the incumbent will run of luck soon.
The Mark Six numbers are being served up as another signal of ABC, or “Anyone But CY”.
Some netizens, meanwhile, are viewing the winning numbers with suspicion.
Pointing to the unique combination of the drawn numbers and the big number of lucky winners, skeptics are wondering if there might be a case for the city’s anti-graft body to launch a probe.
The set of lucky numbers, incidentally, came as Chris Patten was in town to attend a forum entitled “Governance in Hong Kong: Are the pillars crumbling?” over the weekend.
Hong Kong’s last British colonial governor, commonly known as “Fat Peng” due to his fondness for high-calorie foods like egg tart, brought back good memories of how the city was like 20 years ago.
Patten, one labeled by China as “sinner of a thousand years”, has often expressed concern about Hong Kong’s future under Beijing’s rule.
During the latest trip, the retired diplomat played smart as he quoted Confucian Analects to sound this warning: “If the people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the State (民無信不立)”.
Beijing may not give much importance to Patten’s words, but let’s hope that the top leaders will at least take the words of Confucius — and also the Mark Six result — seriously.
While there may be mixed views regarding the interpretation of the Mark Six numbers, Hong Kong people are now waiting to hear the fate of Financial Secretary John Tsang, who is on a China trip.
Given the ABC sentiment, many locals hope Tsang, who has reportedly set up a campaign office, will be allowed by Beijing to join the 2017 Chief Executive election.
Some observers, however, believe Tsang will be discouraged by Beijing from joining the CE race.
The reason given could be this: Hong Kong needs a capable person like Tsang as finance chief as global markets could become more volatile after Donald Trump becomes US president next year.
Leung will certainly be hoping that Beijing uses that argument to remove a potential rival for his job.
Mainland leaders are keeping their cards close to their chest, for now.
We can only wait and watch.
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