Rear Window | Lucky Number Seven

Severo Portela

We are aware that once we are about to enter the popular narrative realm of a fairy tale, the tone is set to “once upon a time.” Similarly, we are sure to dive into bizarre trivia should we read the warning “believe it or not.”

However, in the absence of a clear sign to guide us through the strangeness of politics, and electoral things in particular, we can do nothing but accept the simplicity of chance, embrace the random, and take both as tools to help us frame our understanding of the Hong Kong  chief executive election outcome: 777 votes to endorse Carrie Lam.

777 odd ballots (from a 1,200 strong small-circle election committee) constitute an involuntary coincidence and a sound and heavy gap between Lam and the other two permitted contestants to the top job: John Tsang (365) and Woo Kwok-hing (21). Tsang was leading all polls to replace one-term CY Leung… that is to say, the long-term Finance Secretary would be elected if the anachronistic small-circle was to be replaced by universal suffrage. But there goes conventional wisdom: you do not have to believe in coincidences!

Coincidentally, John Tsang was the one to run with a pro-Beijing platform which common sense would describe as “an agenda by Regina Ip with common sense”. Tsang highlighted economic development, taxation, education, and furthermore he mentioned the idea of boosting government accountability – a wink towards the moderates. But Tsang went further, plying for talks on political reform, and making a full circle slam, he compromised on national security legislation (Article 23).

Some time ago one would say this agenda was a kind of Carrie Lam copycat line; even unhappy former judge Woo Kwok-hing’s progressive platform was nothing more than a timid proposal to inflate representation in the electoral committee. He would be inside the circle of trusted political development that China would be comfortable with.

But then came along the 777 votes for Carrie Lam –
ex-Chief Secretary under CYL – despite the fact that the winning candidate has been blatantly avoiding the enactment of the national security law and merely talking up political reform in the SAR. One has to wonder what Carrie Lam will really be about as the next powerful chief executive.

Besides general issues regarding economics and civil service reform, we would do better to listen to the CE-in-waiting when she promises to mend political divisions: ”to  heal the divide and to ease the frustrations and to unite our society to move forward”. The morning after, and more than two years later, Occupy Movement activists were told by the police they will be charged with committing public nuisance. The Department of Justice allegedly confirmed that the police would be prosecuting nine people based on legal advice.

Occupy Central and Demosisto star activist Joshua Wong has no doubts about Beijing’s ultimate strategy to wipe out democrats in Hong Kong: from the prosecution of those involved in the Umbrella Movement to unseating democratic lawmakers (oath controversy). Demosisto and UM announced they will organize citywide demonstrations.

Being just a CE-elect, Carrie Lam did not say much about the eventual decision taken during CY Leung’s time to arrest Benny Tai and the others; not much more than an allusion to the need to abide by the rule of law.

As for the million-dollar question, it goes like a riddle: why fuel political tensions in the countdown to the usual demonstration on the First of July, on the 20th anniversary of the handover and Carrie Lam’s first day in office?

We do not know… but try numerology: 777. Seven is a combination of Yin, Yang and the Five Elements. The triple seven is a must in the gaming business…some say that for odd numbers, seven is both a lucky and an unlucky number.

Categories Opinion