'Li's Field' bows out to wilder storm

Editorial | Mary Ma 14 Sep 2018

Hong Kong is set to be hit by one of the the most powerful typhoons in recent memory.

Who knows whether the superstitious would connect the threat of Super Typhoon Mangkhut to the disappearance of the so-called "Li's Field" - a mythical reference to the great influence enjoyed by tycoon Li Ka-shing - that was claimed to have repelled severe storms in the past. No matter what, the fact remains Mangkhut is moving in our general direction.

As the typhoon heads toward the coast of Guangdong, it's always advisable for the public to stay tuned to the Hong Kong Observatory to take heed of its regular updates. While it's everyone's responsibility to take precautions and batten down the hatches, it's also absolutely necessary to stay calm.

Earlier, nearly all weather stations in the region put Hong Kong in Mangkhut's path. The latest projection by the observatory, however, showed it could be edging away from the predicted path, probably landing somewhere west of here.

The prediction will undoubtedly continue changing, as up-to-date data is gathered. What the community should do is listen to the observatory and avoid outdoor activities like hiking, or emergency personnel will have to risk their lives to rescue people who irresponsibly place themselves in danger.

In recent years, the phrase "Li's Field" had become so popular that even the observatory had played the light-hearted side of it on their official Facebook page.

But now that the nonagenarian tycoon has officially stepped down as chairman of his business empire to become a full-time philanthropist, Li's Field should have faded into history too.

It had been held by conspiracy theorists that some sort of understanding or agreement existed between government officials and the business sector the observatory - which falls under the auspices of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau - would do everything possible to avoid hoisting Typhoon Signal 8 or higher in order to keep economic activities going during a storm.

I've always found it amazing that in a city as developed as ours, a myth like that has remained so popular for so long.

Will there be a new field under another tycoon's name - now that Li has retired along with "Li's Field?" It wouldn't surprise me if there is going to be a someone, as I'm sure innovative conspiracy theorists will be able to create a new one.

Also, whenever a typhoon threatens the city, social media is inundated with hearsay regurgitated numerous times.

I've got one too about Mangkhut. It said the observatory would hoist Signal 3 at 4pm on Saturday, and elevated to Signal 8 at 10pm. By Sunday noon, winds would become so strong that Signal 10 would be raised, lasting until 6am Monday, when Signal 8 that would replace it and remain in effect until 10pm Monday evening.

Was it accurate? Was it based on inside information or purely hearsay?

In an emergency, one had better be discerning.

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