Confusion reigns over true length of great man's life

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 4:14am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 5:19am

There is confusion over whether Sir Run Run Shaw died aged 106 or 107.

TVB announced that based on the accounts of family members, the company's chairman emeritus was 107. Police records and many local media reports concurred.

However, overseas media such as The New York Times and British newspaper The Guardian reported he was 106.

Previous media reports about his birthday show a few months remain before he would have turned 107. Yet his exact birth date is unclear, and different Shaw-related websites say he was born in 1906 or 1907.

Apple Daily claimed a photo of his Hong Kong identity card showed his date of birth was listed was October 14, 1907. That could be his lunar calendar birthday, which equates to November 19 in the Western calendar, the newspaper reported.

Putting aside the questions of which month or year he was born in, according to Chinese tradition one or more years may be added to a person's age when they die.

"A baby stays in its mother's womb for nine months before it is born. That can add a year to a person's age," fung shui master Mak Ling-ling said.

It is also usual for family members to add three years to a deceased person's age, she said.

University of Hong Kong professor of sociology Lui Tai-lok said some elderly people would have used their lunar calendar birthday on their identity cards when they found it difficult to establish the corresponding date in the Western calendar.

Others born on the mainland but who came to Hong Kong subsequently intentionally added a year or more to their age. "When they came to Hong Kong decades ago, they made themselves look older to find a job more easily."