Li's Field makes it to government lexicon

August 02, 2016 15:20
A Facebook post by a government agency mentions 'Li's Force Field', a reference to the popular talk that tycoon Li Ka-shing can deflect cyclones away from Hong Kong. Photos: Reuters, FB/

Tycoon Li Ka-shing's magical effect on weather did not work this time, but he might be glad nonetheless as his rumored special ability appears to have received official recognition.

"Li's Force Field", a tongue-in-cheek term used by locals to ascribe extraordinary powers to Li to repel tropical cyclones has apparently become part of the Hong Kong government lexicon.

Take a look at a message posted by the Information Services Department this week.  

While providing information on Typhoon Nida, the government agency concluded a Facebook post with this cute line: "Will Li's Field take effect this time?"

Well, the reference was a tribute to the popular talk among locals that "Superman Li" can divert the course of tropical storms by unleashing a strong force field.

While many people appreciated the light-hearted take from the government news provider, there were some who felt that it was a public relations disaster.

"It is an official recognition that Li's Field does exist," a netizen said in an online forum.

Another person remarked that the government has "now officially acknowledged that it is in collusion with the commercial sector".

Under Li's Field theory, the tycoon is able to alter the course of typhoons as he seeks to prevent economic losses for the city, where he has huge business interests.

An underlying factor behind the so-called theory is the suspicions among people that the Hong Kong Observatory, an entity that is overseen by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, issues typhoon warning signals based on economic, rather than scientific, reasoning.

In the past, it was said that 7 cents of each dollar that Hong Kong people made went to Li's pocket, as the tycoon controls an array of businesses including power utilities, telecoms service providers, supermarkets and housing estates.

The so-called Li's Field seemed to play out often in the past decade as there were several instances when tropical cyclone warnings did not go beyond the No. 3 signal.

In 2014, about 20 percent of students who attended a Hong Kong Observatory Forum believed that there was indeed a Li's Field, according to an impromptu survey by weather watchdog chief Shun Chi-ming.

That said, the theory appears to have lost some of its magic in recent years.

Incidentally, it was also the time when Li and his flagships started boosting their investments overseas and cutting back on Hong Kong exposure.

Whatever be the case, take the whole thing as a light joke.

No one wants to see the city suffer from tropical cyclones. Hong Kong should consider itself lucky that it is witnessing far fewer natural calamities compared to its Asian neighbors.

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An EJ Insight contributor