Hongkongers were warned they faced "wicked people" and obstacles in the Year of the Snake, after one of the unluckiest possible omens was drawn in a Taoist ceremony yesterday.
A stick bearing the number 95 was drawn by Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat at Sha Tin's Che Kung Temple in the annual ritual. The prediction for stick 95 says: "In a splendid carriage you embarked on your journey. Today, you came home barefoot. Is it that you failed the imperial exam? Or did you lose all your gold in business?"
It reminds Hongkongers to "beware of wicked people", and says "nothing is going well".
Mak Ling-ling, one of the most famous fung shui masters in the city, said the stick could be saying the policies put forward by the government could fail although they sounded glamorous in the beginning.
"It could mean the government's strategy was not right. It might be confident, but there are obstacles," she said. She did not think "wicked people" was a specific reference.
This is the third bad-luck stick to be selected in a decade; following one in 2003, when Hong Kong was hit by the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, and another in 2009, when it was hit by the global financial turmoil.
Chu Ling-ling, a fortune-teller at the temple, said the stick meant uncertainties would trouble the economy. The horse carriage in the verse was a reference to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who was born in the Year of the Horse, she said.
There would be political turmoil, and although Leung would not fare too badly in the first half of the year, he could face trouble towards its end. "Leung needs to change his way of doing things. He should refrain from being too tough, and he needs to rebuild his credibility, so people will trust him again," she said.
Lau tried to put a positive spin on it, saying: "Hong Kong will continue to be prosperous and stable ... An unlucky stick could be good, too."
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's first Year of the Snake baby, a girl, arrived at Union Hospital in Sha Tin at 0.17am on Sunday.