Friday, 20 February 2015

All in the Interpretation

Lau Wong-fat shaking the container for a fortune stick to come out
This being the second day of Chinese New Year is when a government representative goes to Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin to draw a fortune stick for Hong Kong.

Every year since 2004 it's been Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat, after home affairs bureau chief Patrick Ho Chi-ping drew the number 83, one of the worst omens, and after that SARS hit the city that resulted in the deaths of 299 people.

Apparently when the British were in power, they "fixed" the sticks so that every year was a good fortune...

But why is Lau doing it every year? Can't they mix it up? Or does he keep drawing it until he gets a bad fortune stick?

In any event this year Lau picked the number 20 which is considered "neutral". The stick is chosen by getting a container filled with fortune sticks, 96 of them, where 35 are good, 44 are neutral and 17 are bad. The person has to shake the container at an angle until one fortune stick comes out.

Last year Lau also picked an average fortune. It was advised that the government listen to the people in the Year of the Horse to avoid misfortune and chaos. Look what happened in the end!

But this year, the fortune was interpreted that it was the people should not be greedy and be practical. When looking at it from a political point of view, fortune tellers were hinting Hong Kong people should accept the government's political reform package. In other words, elections where one person, one vote, will have two to three candidates who are vetted by Beijing.

How would you interpret the fortune that literally says this: "In the morning there's colourful make-up and coiffure in cloud-shaped coils; and jade and pearl ornaments made the brocade look silvery. Yet 'form is emptiness and emptiness is form', that was [goddess of mercy] Guanyin's reminder for the mortals."

From those poetic words we can see how it advises people not to be greedy, but why should it be related to political reform? How about it being aimed at landlords demanding sky high rents and even worse, property developers who are charging almost HK$20,000 per square foot for a less than 300 sq ft flat near Sham Shui Po?

Shouldn't they be the ones tempering their expectations?

The average Hong Kong person has already had their hopes sunk in the past year. All they are focusing on is getting a decent-paying job to pay the rent and if they're lucky a mortgage. They are hardly aiming for the Moon these days. Why take risks when you're beaten down?

Again this demonstrates Hong Kong government officials are still completely out of touch with what's going on street level -- they are sitting too high in the sky to see the gritty reality of life in the city.

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