image

Lunar New Year

With cool heads, Hong Kong can meet the challenges ahead in the Year of the Monkey

Influences beyond the city’s control can be frustrating but with determination – and fortune stick number 72 – a positive Lunar New Year is on the cards

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 February, 2016, 2:32am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 February, 2016, 2:32am

Hopes for good luck and prosperity abound at the start of every Lunar New Year. But the wishes ring hollow this Year of the Monkey after the Mong Kok rioting and with the mainland economy in the doldrums and the looming spectre of US interest rate rises. The fortune stick drawn at the traditional ceremony at the Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin yesterday said otherwise, pointing to a positive year ahead. Monkeys are clever and quick-witted and we count on financial, business and political leaders to embrace those attributes so that Hong Kong can be steered wisely through the uncertainty.

Influences beyond Hong Kong’s control can be frustrating. The mainland’s economic downturn, stock market jitters and the weakening of the yuan directly affect our financial, retail and tourism sectors. Should the US raise interest rates and our banks follow, higher borrowing costs will hit the property market. There is every possibility of greater capital outflows, which will further the prevailing negative sentiment.

READ MORE: Hong Kong set for good luck in Year of the Monkey, says fortune stick ritual at Che Kung Temple

A lively year of politics lies ahead. The agenda is packed with legislative challenges, among them the copyright bill, the funding request for the high-speed rail link to the mainland and the likelihood of another round of filibustering over the budget. Legislative Council elections in September and polls to decide the Election Committee that will choose the chief executive next year will add colour and perhaps raise tempers. At such times, there is every need for cool heads and understanding. Leaders and lawmakers alike have to put the interests of Hong Kong first by making smart decisions and acting calmly.

Fortune stick number 72 was interpreted by the fortune teller at the drawing as meaning that those who are virtuous and capable have every chance this year to make use of their skills for Hong Kong’s benefit. The sticks have in recent years been largely accurate, but whether they are to be believed or not, the message for this Year of the Monkey is logical: we will be in capable hands if those who lead us act wisely, calmly and with dignity.