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Friday, January 31, 2014

Will it be a fiery year?

The elements wood and fire predominate in the Year of the Horse, hinting of hostility and violence
COMMENT
According to Chinese astrologers, the elements wood and fire will have great influence on human affairs in the Year of the Horse, which begins this Friday.
Since wood burns easily, don’t be surprised if this year you come across people with short tempers or experience hostility in your relationships, or see a lot of negativity in human affairs, including violence.
But the astrologers caution against too much generalising, saying any individual’s experience will depend on the time of his birth and the element he is primarily associated with. (Besides wood and fire, the other three elements in Chinese metaphysics are metal, earth and water.)
Hence, individuals born at different times will have different fortunes depending on the compatibility or incompatibility of their birth elements with this Year of the Green Horse, sometimes called the Year of the Wooden Horse.
For instance, this will not be a smooth-going year for those born under the metal element because, in Chinese folk belief, metal is not compatible with wood.
It is easy for those brought up with a modernist outlook to dismiss these theories as mere superstition unworthy of their attention, but as Jean-Michael de Kermadec says in his book, “The Way to Chinese Astrology: The Four Pillars of Destiny”, traditionally-minded Chinese try to understand the universe not by giving it an “impossibly rational explanation” but by trying to grasp its laws “in order that our lives may conform harmoniously with them”.
“To know oneself is to realise the forces which define our personality as well as to play our role in the world on which we depend,” he writes, adding that to acquire this knowledge constitutes a moral act as understood by the Chinese.
The study of life should be life itself and valuable lessons in life rarely come from academic studies.
Whether or not we subscribe to the belief that astrology is a way to study life, most of us would agree that we can learn something from history. Perhaps we can look back 60 years to the previous year of the wooden horse and see whether it provided a hint of what might happen this year, at least on the political landscape.
1954 saw Umno and MCA making a bid against Independent Malaya Party (IMP) leader Onn Jaafar for the leadership of the independence movement and speeding up the process of self-government for the country.
Umno and MCA, under the leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman, eventually won their tactical battle against Dato Onn despite the latter being the chief recipient of colonial patronage and having the ears of the colonial administration.
IMP was disbanded and replaced by the Malay-based Parti Negara, as historian Heng Pek Koon records in her publication, “Chinese Politics in Malaysia”.
“Datuk Onn retained the favour of the British authorities, largely because a coincidence of opinion existed regarding the timetable for self-rule in Malaya, with both parties feeling it should take place at a later rather than earlier time,” Heng writes.
In May of that year of the wooden horse, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Dato (later Tun) Abdul Razak bin Hussein and TH Tan went on a mission to London conveying the resolutions passed by the Alliance National Convention on its self-government proposal. That mission failed.
It was a year of mass rallies in which colonial government bodies were boycotted. “Rallies were held throughout the country in June and July. On July 8, a 6,000-strong crowd assembled in Kuala Lumpur and similar rallies were held in Seremban, Alor Star, Pekan and other towns in the country,” Heng says.
The Umno and MCA members of the Federal Legislative and Executive Councils boycotted state, municipal and town councils and other government bodies as a move to pressure the British government to accept their terms for independence.
Now, sixty years later, the Alliance, having evolved into Barisan Nasional, is no longer of the same stuff as our founding fathers.
Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and the many others who fought for independence, self-rule and human rights for Malaysians were leaders of integrity and the nation is justly proud of them.
Today’s leaders are tainted by their own hypocrisy. For example, we have often heard them claim that public demonstrations do not figure in Malaysian culture. History is manipulated and distorted in self-denial.
This is only one illustration of the propensity for deception and flawed logic in many of our leaders today.
Will 2014 be a completion of the wooden horse cycle begun in 1954?
Nobody has the answer, not even astrologers. But one thing is certain—many ordinary Malaysians have come to the conclusion that they must pay more attention to politics and get involved in it, even if indirectly by attending public rallies, in order to protect their rights and preserve what is good of the Malaysian heritage.
Stanley Koh is a FMT columnist.

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