Paul Chan (inset) becomes a target of 'petty person beating' in Causeway Bay. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Foouaichaou, HK Govt

Spare a thought for Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan, who has become the victim of an unusual attack involving an ancient spiritual ritual often held in the former British territory.

Called “petty person beating”, or Da Siu Yan in Cantonese, the ritual is said to be most powerful when held in Jing Zhe. This refers to the first thunder of the year as predicted by the Chinese lunar calendar – which started on Monday this week and finishes on March 20.

The ceremony is meant to dispel evil and the one arranged for Chan was held on Monday. However, it does not involve tattooed triad heavies, but old women, and there is one place in Hong Kong that believers in feng shui say is the best spot on the island to do it  – under the famous Neck Goose Bridge in Causeway Bay.

The five-minute ritual often starts with an old lady holding her shoes and beating a paper tiger, which symbolizes beating the “petty person” out of the customers’ life and costs about HK$50 (US$6.41).

The subjects of these attacks are mostly mistresses, which according to unofficial statistics account for nearly half of the cases, followed by demanding bosses, troublesome neighbors, annoying colleagues or customers. So why Chan?

Last Wednesday, the Hong Kong Financial Secretary unveiled a record budget surplus of HK$138 billion, which failed to win the hearts of the people. They were looking to share in the enviable windfall of wealth which sprang mainly from expensive land auctions.

Meanwhile, the Macau government has been delivering $1,120 to each local resident annually for many years after producing successive budget surpluses.

Chan said he had already delivered as many cash incentives as possible to support the middle class and the underprivileged.

With a record GDP, skyrocketing residential property prices and booming equity markets, the Hong Kong SAR government appeared to leave out the low income group, nicknamed “N-nothing”, who are neither on public housing estates nor the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme.

That means the income disparity in Hong Kong grew wider as the rich property tycoons become richer on the Forbes Rich List, but the poor become poorer because they cannot afford a tiny sub-divided flat.

Many Hong Kong people joined in the chorus to demand more from Chan because they feel they do not benefit from a waiver of property rates and a HK$50 billion innovation and technology investment program.

It is hardly surprising then that he has come under attack through this ancient ritual. But judging from the scene at Goose Neck Bridge this week, it looks like Chan has quite a lot to fix – and he better fix it quick if he believes in “petty person beating”.

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