Be pragmatic on political reform, Hongkongers told at Lunar New Year fortune-telling ceremony
Don’t be greedy in the year of the goat, Hongkongers were told today at a Taoist fortune-telling ceremony – a message interpreted as a suggestion to accept the government’s political reform package.
A fortune stick bearing the number 20 was drawn by Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat in the annual ritual at the Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin. The stick is seen as “neutral” in fortune terms.
The fortune stick’s message started off by describing colourful make-up, jade ornaments, pearl and silvery brocade, but it went on to cite Buddhist scriptures and say that the goddess of mercy “Kwun Yum had advised mortals that ‘form is emptiness and emptiness is form’”. The stick’s message also reminds people “don’t be greedy”.
“I believe it’s saying that we should not struggle vigorously for fame and riches, it will be in vain,” rural patriarch Lau said. “I think it’s a bit of an implication that people should pocket first [whatever is on the table for political reform].”
A fortune teller surnamed Yu, who helped Lau interpret the message, also said it was a reminder for people to have “practical and pragmatic wishes”.
Under the framework announced by the national legislature in August last year, only two or three chief executive candidates – endorsed by a majority of the 1,200 members of a nominating committee – would be put forward for a popular vote in a 2017 election.
Pan-democrat lawmakers have vowed to veto any reform proposals based on this framework. They have enough Legco members to deny the government a two-thirds majority vote needed to endorse the package.
Executive councillor and New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who attended the fortune-telling ceremony for the first time, said that while the message gives an insight about political reform, “people should be practical on everything.”
Tommy Ma, 20, who visited the temple with his relatives, told the South China Morning Post that he disagreed with Lau and Ip’s interpretations.
“Could it be the central government which is being greedy in getting what it wanted [for political reform], forcing [Hongkongers] to defend their right ‘greedily’?” Ma asked. “[Beijing says passing the reform package means] we will have a vote, but we could get it in vain” if voters do not have a genuine choice of candidate.
Outside the Che Kung Temple, fortune teller Chiang Man-ching also said the stick’s message could be a reminder that residents should “be mindful about superficial prosperity and high property prices, because they would not last forever”.
Another fortune teller, Chan Tin-yan believes that the stick’s message implied that the pan-democrats’ “greed would cost them universal suffrage”.
There are 96 fortune sticks in the container used for the ritual, of which 35 are good, 44 neutral, and 17 bad.
Last year, Lau drew number 4, which was also seen as “average” in fortune terms, and the government was advised to listen to people in the year of the horse if it was to avoid misfortune and chaos.
Lau has been doing the honours at the Sha Tin ceremony since 2004. That was a year after then home affairs bureau chief Patrick Ho Chi-ping drew number 83, one of the worst omens possible, after which the city was hit by the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which claimed the lives of 299 people and ensuing economic woes.