21 October 2018
Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam won Sunday's election with 777 votes, a number that has some nasty connotations in Hong Kong. Photos: Reuters, Google
Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam won Sunday's election with 777 votes, a number that has some nasty connotations in Hong Kong. Photos: Reuters, Google

Welcome aboard Carrie Lam’s 777!

Call it fate.

There was little doubt in Hong Kong and mainland China that Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Beijing-backed candidate, would win Sunday’s election, breaking the glass ceiling by becoming the territory’s first female chief executive.

But who would have thought that she would garner that number of votes – 777? Not even her most mischievous critic could have thought of that.

Her fans would say it’s a lucky combination of numbers, the one that wins you the jackpot when you play the one-armed bandit at a casino in Macau.

But, in Chinese, it’s not as auspicious as that; the number “7″ is associated with death. 

The Chinese believe the spirit of dead people will come back after the seventh day, and it takes seven weeks for the dead to finally leave the world.

In Hong Kong, if you call someone “777″ make sure you are ready for some angry or, more likely, physical response.

For in Cantonese slang, “777″ sounds like an expletive, something you tell someone who is useless, stupid or impotent.

In fact, in the local urban dictionary, “7″ means “penis”.

Says Bloomberg: “But her vote total – 777 – was immediately seized upon as a nickname to deride the election process.”

So if the final tally of her votes is associated with impotence or uselessness, could it be a sort of a portent of what would be the outcome of her efforts to push her policies and reach out to pan-democrats?

We hope not. For we, like her and everyone else, would like to see a healing of the divisions in society so that we could move on and move forward to fulfilling our potentials.

When the final results of the balloting were announced, and her vote count was aired, not a few noticed the winner’s face turned blank and serious, before she smiled. 

The reporters covering the event at the Convention and Exhibition Centre could not help but laugh at the final tally.

Later, when asked about her reaction, Lam said: “You reporters have been exaggerating my facial expression in the past two months.”

When asked how she would react if people started calling her “777″, she said: “If someone calls me by that nickname, I would give my response when that time comes.”

This business of using numbers to ridicule Hong Kong’s leader started when outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying got 689 votes out of the 1,200 votes from the small circle of Election Committee members in 2012.

Being CY Leung’s preferred successor, Lam has been dubbed, even before the election, as “CY 2.0″, meaning that she would be no different from the incumbent leader.

But as it turned out, she got significantly more votes than CY Leung, and therefore that should give her a bigger semblance of a mandate.

In fact, her tally avoided all the digits in CY Leung’s tally: 6-8-9. And “7″, lest people forget, also means harmony, something that has been absent in the Leung administration since 2012.

But then, nobody expected Lam to get “777″ and reap all its negative connotations.

Is Carrie Lam the Nuwa, the Goddess of Harmony, as billionaire Li Ka-shing hinted last week to be the one who could heal the divide in Hong Kong?

Ironically, it’s Leung who should be associated with “777″, having been born on July 14, which adds up to triple sevens.

And it’s also during his term that seven cops have been jailed for two years for beating activist Ken Tsang during the 2014 Occupy Movement.

Tsang, incidentally, cast his ballot as a member of the Election Committee behind bars on Sunday.

Carrie Lam said she was sympathetic with the seven cops because the grim incident could have been avoided if she had handled the universal suffrage proposal better.

Whether Lam would be gracious to the seven cops who are appealing their case is something that many people are awaiting.

If their fellow police officers and supporters are not happy with the outcome of the case, there could be a strike on July 1st, Lam’s first day in office.

And those who support Lam could also stage a march on July 7th, starting at 7 p.m. (7-7-7!)

Overnight, many people in Hong Kong have become numerology experts.

This early, some religious people appear to have a dim outlook of the future. They point to a passage in the Bible, Psalm 77:7 to be exact: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?”

But others are more optimistic, and so they come up with this prayer:

“Our 777, hallowed by thy name.

Thy China kingdom come.

Carrie’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

For thine is the executive, the legislative and the judiciary power

For ever and ever.


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EJ Insight writer

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