Many Hongkongers know 689 to be the nickname of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 1, 2014
In 2012, Leung was elected to his post with just 689 votes from an election committee.
Leung is often heckled in the legislature by pan-democratic lawmakers – most notoriously by Wong Yuk-man – who enjoyed reminding him of the number.
It is commonly seen at protests….
…and was especially popular during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
In January 2015, Puma removed a photo it posted of a runner’s identification tag bearing the number “D7689”. “D7” can be interpreted as Cantonese profanity.
Later that month, MTRC staff were issued with a warning after posting a photo of a train carriage bearing the code “D689” to unofficial social media feeds.
Netizens have since taken joy in spotting instances of the number around Hong Kong…
As well as creating art works and parodies related to “689”.
Netizens also noted that, when added together, 6+8+9 equals 23 – as in, Basic Law Article 23, which refers to Hong Kong’s widely criticised security law. A related bill was withdrawn following protests in 2003.
But Leung is not the only Chinese leader haunted by the figure. Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou was elected with 6.89 million votes in 2008 – the nickname also stuck.
Taiwan’s new leader Tsai Ing-wen was also elected with 6.89 million votes.
It is unclear if it will become her nickname, though the coincidence did not unnoticed by Hong Kongers…
Mathematically, 689 is also a magical number. As findthefactors.com explains, it is a strobogrammatic number, meaning it can be read upside down.
It is also the sum of consecutive prime numbers 227, 229 and 233, and it is the sum of the prime numbers between 83 and 109.
For Hongkongers, however, 689 will always be indelibly linked to the city’s unpopular leader.