As Hong Kong braces for Typhoon Mangkhut, will Superman Li’s force field still hold?
As Super Typhoon Mangkhut bears down upon the South China Sea and Hong Kong, the city is battening down the hatches for what is likely to be a signal 10 storm.
The typhoon, however, is expected to hit on Sunday, a holiday for most businesses, making people recall that old Hong Kong legend about “Li’s force field” – that the city’s top tycoon, “Superman” Li Ka-shing, is able to employ a force field that deflects typhoons from hitting Hong Kong on important business days, so that office or stock market hours are not affected.
Jokes aside, people have long discussed the conspiracy theory about whether the Hong Kong Observatory, a government department under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, has an understanding with the business sector not to issue a Typhoon Signal No 8 too early, to keep economic activities going as long as possible. Even government officials jokingly referred to it on Facebook, as Typhoon Nida veered closer in 2016.
Given that Mr Li is the wealthiest local businessman, even though he is now retired, the question is whether his “force field” will hold good as Mangkhut barrels towards the city.
Interestingly, the myth of “Li’s force field” to some extent reflects the erosion of public trust and confidence in the government, even when it relates to scientific data and evidence. Or maybe employees struggling with long working hours and competitive office environments just want to have a typhoon-induced holiday.
Adrian Lam, Kornhill