City urged to unite despite fortune stick's bad omen

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 January, 2009, 12:00am

Sha Tin temple ceremony predicts year of disharmony

Hongkongers have been urged to remain united and confident about the future despite the Year of the Ox being defined by the worst possible fortune stick during a Taoist ceremony yesterday at Sha Tin's Che Kung temple.

It is the second time in the past decade that a similar stick has been drawn during the ceremony on the second day of the Lunar New Year holiday.

Lau Wong-fat, chairman of rural affairs body the Heung Yee Kuk, drew the unlucky fortune stick No 27, which was also drawn in 1992 in the Year of the Monkey.

That was the year that the last governor, Chris Patten, arrived in Hong Kong and the year 21 revellers were killed during a (western) New Year's Eve stampede in Lan Kwai Fong.

Patrick Ho Chi-ping, former secretary for home affairs, drew No 83 six years ago in 2003 in the Year of the Goat, a prediction of plagues and economic turmoil.

That became a reality with the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome and the economic slump that followed. With yesterday's fortune stick interpreted as signifying possible conflicts between the government and its people, fung shui master James Lee Shing-chak called on the administration to communicate with people to avoid misunderstandings.

The government should also listen to community views, particularly when it involved construction of major infrastructure projects, Mr Lee said.

'Che Kung's predictions are very accurate,' Mr Lau said.

'It is a warning to all of us that only a harmonious society with people staying united can enable us to get through our challenges.'

But Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she hoped people would not take the fortune-telling too seriously.

'What is important for us is to stay confident and be optimistic about the challenges ahead,' she said.

'As Mr Lau said, it reminds us to work together, pushing for economic development and creating local job opportunities.'

The unlucky stick No 27 relates to the story of Qin Shihuang, the first Qin dynasty emperor who initiated the giant and costly Great Wall construction which sparked widespread opposition among his people.

According to the fortune-teller, surnamed Lee who 'read' Mr Lau's stick No 27 at the Taoist temple, the stick indicated that Hongkongers should be cautiously optimistic about the year.

However, the fortune-teller said the city could not isolate itself from the economic turbulence affecting the rest of the world.

Fung shui master James Lee said, however, the government should listen to public opinion in relation to large infrastructure projects.

'As with the construction of the Great Wall, people may disagree with a project despite the fact that it could be of great benefit later,' he said.

Mr Lee also warned of opposition among Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's policymakers.

The government is facing difficulties arising from the global financial crisis and unemployment, and is under fire for its postponement of political reform discussions until later this year.