Hong Kong will face a difficult Year of Horse that is filled with chaos, disputes and a pessimistic economic outlook, according to Chinese fung shui and Western astrology.
Fung shui masters say the Year of Horse is characterised by the elements wood and fire, with the latter being the dominant element – which is not a positive sign.
“The fire is so strong that it will cause an ‘explosion’,” said fung shui master Ma Lai-wah, citing as an example how this could mean “the economic bubble might burst, and the impact will last for a while”.
Ma also looked at how fire would impact the other elements in fung shui – metal, water and earth.
As “fire melts metal”, Ma said sectors such as the financial industry will suffer this year, with a particularly bad impact on the Western world. He warned people to be cautious about any speculative opportunities that appear before May and June.
But there is good news for those who are in need of properties: “The property market [prices] might decline for 20 to 30 per cent in the second half of this year,” Ma said.
Another fung shui master, Luk Ngai, said that just as fire can burn wood, bad tempers might flare this year and that summer in particular would be a difficult time.
Luk also said that based on I Ching, a divination method based on the concept of yin and yang, Hong Kong faces unfavourable conditions for development and will face tremendous strain that will keep it from further growth.
Western Astrology also depicts a difficult year ahead, according to Lilian Chow Lai-ming, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Astrology Club.
She said tension would be felt in April when Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto form a “cardinal grand cross”, which means they will squared with one another, with Mars opposite Uranus and Jupiter opposite Pluto.
The impact of this will peak on April 22 and the same pattern will return in December, with less impact.
“During this period, Hong Kong is likely to be troubled by disputes, chaos and confusion,” said Chow, adding that Occupy Central’s future would hinge on events in April.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, meanwhile, having been born in the Year of Horse in 1954, will be in conflict with tai sui (the deity in charge of the year) in the Year of the Horse.
While misfortune is not necessarily a given for those born in the Year of the Hourse, Luk warns that they “must not be arrogant and be cautious with their action. They must also constantly review the mistakes they made”.
Meanwhile, Chow of the astrology club said Leung, who will turn 60 in August, would be going through the “Saturn return” phase, which means the planet will return to the same position it was when he was born. This type of movement usually happens between the ages of 28 to 30 and 58 to 60.
It can be a stressful time for many individuals, she said.
Watch: What's in store for 2014? A soothsayer makes predictions
Conflicts, disasters, record high temperatures, an economic chill in Asia and more trouble for Justin Bieber: the upcoming Year of the Horse is set to be a dramatic one
With the Year of the Snake slithering into history, they say that the incoming Lunar New Year beginning on Friday is going to be the kind of horse that you shouldn’t stand behind – because it incorporates the volatile element of fire.
“With this being the Year of the Wood Horse, and with wood being very combustible, there will be a lot of scandals, conflicts, explosions and arguments,” celebrity fung shui master Alion Yeo said.
Fung shui, litreally meaning “wind-water”, is influential in many parts of Asia, where people adjust their lives and even renovate offices and homes based on its edicts to maximise their luck and wealth.
Yeo says that conflict in the new year could be defined by anything from diplomatic tension to armed engagement, particularly in the first, fourth and seventh lunar months: February, May and August.
“The most likely thing that could lead to a physical war would be the Diaoyu Islands,” Yeo said, referring to acute tensions between Japan and China over the islets, which are called the Senkakus by Japan.
The previous Year of the Wood Horse in 1954 was marked by nuclear bomb tests by the US and the former Soviet Union and the battle of Dien Bien Phu, which led to the defeat of French forces in Vietnam.
West gallops ahead
Chinese fortune-telling such as fung shui is based on ancient philosophy and the belief that events are dictated by the varying balances in the five elements that make up the universe: metal, wood, water, fire and earth.
The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and through Chinese folklore ascribes 12 animals, one for each year in the rotating cycle. The horse is in the seventh position.
Fung shui master Chow Hon-ming believes that while the United States and Europe will enjoy economic recovery, nations such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, India and Pakistan will feel a negative impact.
“The Western economy will see obvious improvement but Eastern nations will face difficulties and their economies may even take backward steps.”
Chow believes it will be a tricky year for US President Barack Obama, who was born in the Year of the Ox in 1961.
“He may make gaffes, he may face obstacles when it comes to cutting through political red tape,” Chow said.
Record-high temperatures and natural disasters will be prominent due to the influence of the fire element, according to soothsayers.
“There will be a higher chance of volcanic eruption and earthquakes because the earth element will be irritated by the abundance of fire,” fortune-teller Cheng Chi-hang adding that Japan, Indonesia and China would be particularly prone.
Bad year for Bieber?
A person’s fortune is calculated by using the exact time and date of his birth, with the relationship of each of the elements.
Troubled Canadian pop star Justin Bieber will be on a streak of negativity this year, Yeo said. “There will be times where he will not be able to control himself.”
Bieber, 19, was charged with driving under the influence after police caught him drag-racing in Miami Beach last week – allegedly after drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.
“His fire element, if he goes all the way, could lead to health risks,” Yeo said.
Celebrities born in the Year of the Horse include Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao, Hollywood actress Halle Berry, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the late former South African president Nelson Mandela – whose 1990 release from prison also occurred in a “horse” year.
Tens of thousands of worshippers will be offering sticks of incense on the eve of the first day of the Lunar New Year to pray for good luck and fortune at Hong Kong’s Wong Tai Sin Temple.
The former British colony is also a popular horse-racing destination, hosting the Chinese New Year Raceday on February 2, with total payouts of up to HK$68 million.
The city will celebrate the new year with a 23-minute long fireworks display on Saturday, which organisers say will display the word “win” in capital letters twice.
In mainland China, tourism operators are also seeking to capitalise, particularly in Dan Xia Shan, a mountainous tourist attraction in the southern province of Guangdong which includes five hills known as “five horses return to the manger”.
Last year's predictions from the SCMP
Predicting the future can be a dangerous practice. All too often someone will look back at what was said, and compare it with what came to pass. And so it is with the conclusion of the Year of the Snake as the South China Morning Post reviews the predictions it published 12 months ago.
Fung shui masters then were mostly upbeat, if not entirely positive, about Hong Kong’s economic prospects as the Year of the Dragon departed, saying conditions would improve, but not that much. A safe bet, without doubt, and one which paid dividends.
The prospects for the chief executive were less rosy, said master Mak Ling-lin, who pointed out that ‘the snake winds around the legs of the horse’ and prevents it from making much progress. A fair piece of foresight, considering the lack of popularity enjoyed by Leung Chun-ying, who was born in a Year of the Horse, and the various pitfalls into which he has fallen during the year.
Master Ma Lai-wah told investors to tread warily in the property market and avoid speculation because prices would rise and fall by as much as 10 per cent. He advised instead a focus on exports. That advice might also apply to the forthcoming year as the world pulls out of recession and analysts consistently rank Hong Kong property overpriced. Sound economics, but not entirely timely.
Ma also looked at relations between Hongkongers and mainlanders before warning of “disharmony’. Another safe prediction, and one that certainly came true according to the letters page of the SCMP.
Raymond “Fung Shui” Lo, was kinder to C.Y. Leung, saying he would ‘face challenges’ but would ‘remain OK’. Well, the man still occupies his office in Tamar, even if it sometimes seems to be a Beijing’s behest. Snakes also, apparently, bring the ‘flower of romance’ to those who were born under the sign of the Horse, which can be interpreted as a sign of sociability.
Lo also said the fire symbol associated with the last lunar year would be good for the banking sector and “We may expect improvements in the economy.” Now, you don’t really need a crystal ball to predict a profitable time for bankers. When, indeed, did they not make a profit?
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse