SINGAPORE - In the Cantonese dialect, the sound of the word for the number four - saye - sounds like the word for death, which is also pronounced saye.
The number 10 is pronounced sahp which sounds like saht, the Cantonese word for "sure".
Put the two words together and the number 14 can come across as sounding like "sure to die" or "guaranteed death".
For superstitious Chinese, it is an unlucky number to avoid, but Mr Tan Boon Sin, who was murdered on Wednesday, embraced it.
He lived at 14J, Hillside Drive and his family own three vehicles with the licence number 14J.
One of them is his car, a Toyota Camry with the licence plate number SGM14J, which was seen dragging his son as it sped away from his house, where Mr Tan was killed.
The son's body was found at Kovan MRT after being dislodged from the car, which was gone. It was recovered in a Eunos industrial estate yesterday morning.
Two other cars with the number 14J were seen on Wednesday at Mr Tan's house . One is a black Renault Megane station wagon with the number plate SE14J, and the other a white Toyota Fortuner SUV with EH14J.
Although the number 14 is associated with bad luck, fengshui masters who spoke to The New Paper were divided over whether the number has any significance on a person's life.
Master Lawrence Chan felt the number has no significance on an individual's luck.
He said: "The number may even be someone's lucky number, and it's possible that a fengshui master had advised him (Mr Tan) to use the number 14.
"While there are other things that may affect the luck of a house, I don't think the house number is one of them.
"Even if it was not a lucky number for that person, it wouldn't be unlucky to the extent of death."
He also pointed out that 14 is a common number for many addresses.
Grandmaster Tan Khoon Yong went further in saying that the number 14 is considered good luck in fengshui.
He added that fengshui calculations dictate which numbers are considered lucky or unlucky.
"Although it sounds like the word for death, it has no relation to that in fengshui," he said.
But master Ricky Chua said 14 is generally an unlucky number as it has a strong harmful fire element.
"It generally signifies strong character and bad temper, and represents good things coming to an early end," he said.
As for licence number plates, Mr Tan probably had to bid for them or buy them from another car owner.
When the Land Transport Authority releases a new set of numbers, car buyers can bid for any number. The minimum bid is $1,000.
It is also possible that Mr Tan could have bought the licence plate numbers from other car owners, as they are sometimes sold privately.
Mr Raymond Tang, the secretary of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association, said: "Such special numbers may cost more than $10,000, depending on how much the buyer wants it.
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