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標題: 紐約時報專訪Kiu Fung 郭翹峰先生 Greed Said to Be Throwing Feng Shui Off Balance
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紐約時報專訪Kiu Fung 郭翹峰先生 Greed Said to Be Throwing Feng Shui Off Balance

Greed Said to Be Throwing Feng Shui Off Balance
By KEVIN DREWPublished: January 25, 2011


HONG KONG — The modern pursuit of money in this territory of gleaming office towers and rural villages has long co-existed amicably with the embrace of ancient beliefs. Even a major brokerage firm issues an annual financial forecast based, albeit lightheartedly, on the Chinese horoscope.

Enlarge This Image

Anny Li/International Herald TribuneA Hong Kong village chief asked that this footbridge be widened as compensation for damage to feng shui. But village residents said the chief stood to gain financially from his request.

Enlarge This Image

Anny Li/International Herald TribuneKerby Kuek, a self-styled local feng shui master, in his home office, on Jan. 1.


But recent events have fueled fears that greed may be debasing the practice of feng shui, the Chinese system of geomancy by which the auspicious positioning of objects is believed to ensure harmony, health and fortune.
Some practitioners, worried that their profession may be falling into disrepute, recently formed a trade association that they hope will uphold quality standards and public confidence.
Other residents have called for investigations into how much the Hong Kong government’s willingness to accommodate feng shui adherents is costing taxpayers.
Over the past year, a Hong Kong courtroom drama has been showcasing the sort of ties between money and feng shui that underlie such concerns.
Tony Chan, 51, a former bartender turned self-proclaimed feng shui master, is appealing a court decision from last year that rejected his claim to the fortune of Nina Wang, one of Asia’s wealthiest women when she died in 2007 at the age of 69.
Mr. Chan contends that he was Mrs. Wang’s longtime lover and spiritual adviser and is the rightful heir to her estate, which news reports in Hong Kong have valued at $4 billion to $13 billion. His critics counter that Mr. Chan is a charlatan who forged the will and used Mrs. Wang’s belief in feng shui to isolate and delude her.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong lawmakers and civic groups are seeking details about how the government compensates villages that claim that development projects have damaged their feng shui.
Villages are entitled to ask the government to pay to repair any adverse changes to the landscape caused by such projects. That covers not just environmental damage as commonly understood but also the possibility of ill fortune brought about by tearing down a tree or placing a road in a way that might disturb the local qi, the energy that some Chinese believe pervades all things. Qi is a crucial factor in determining feng shui.
Requested repairs to restore positive feng shui could involve construction, like building a pavilion. Or, they could take the form of rituals to, according to the Hong Kong Lands Department, “drive away evil spirits and appease the gods.”
The policies had sat quietly on the books until last year, when a local group challenged a village chief’s claims for feng shui compensation tied to the planned construction of a high-speed rail linking Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The group, representing residents of the village of Kap Lung, asserted that the feng shui complaint was a fraud by the chief, who stood to gain financially by his request that a footbridge into the village be widened.
The chief’s company owns multiple plots of land in the area, and a widened bridge to allow vehicles could make those properties more valuable, said Eddie Tse Sai-kit, a spokesman for the League of Rural-Government Collusion Monitoring. Some residents fear that this new construction would force them out of the village.
“We want a transparent feng shui compensation system,” Mr. Tse said.
The government said last October that about 9.4 million Hong Kong dollars, or $1.2 million, had been dispersed to villages since 2000 to conduct rituals to restore feng shui. But in December, lawmakers asked government officials to confirm a report in The South China Morning Post, the main English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, that the actual amount was 72 million dollars. Lawmakers were not given an answer but were instead told that new guidelines were being drawn up to handle feng shui disruption claims.
“Let’s be honest about it,” Roger Nissim, a former assistant director of lands for the government, said on a radio talk show. “Sometimes feng shui is misused and used as a lever for inappropriate amounts of compensation, and the administration has got to be aware of when it is being bluffed.”
Tanya Chan, a local lawmaker, said that she had no reason to suspect that public money had been misspent but that she wanted to “avoid an appearance of possible fraud.”

“I believe the government treats feng shui compensation very carefully,” she said. “But it is totally unacceptable that we do not know how much has been spent or what the policies are.”

The reimbursement policy, Mr. Nissim said, began more than a century ago during British rule. The colonial authorities, extending their administration over the rural expanse of the New Territories leased in 1898 from the Chinese imperial government, found it necessary to adjust to the feng shui beliefs of local villagers.
After the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, feng shui was suppressed as superstition and is still subject to restrictions.
In Hong Kong, which maintains a separate legal system more than 13 years after its return to Chinese rule, the practice has maintained a steady following.
Estimating the exact number of people in Hong Kong who abide by its tenets is difficult, however.
No surveys have been conducted and would probably yield inaccurate results, said Ho Pui-yin, director of the Hong Kong History Resource Center and a history professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong. Some people might be embarrassed to acknowledge following feng shui principles, she said.
Still, Ms. Ho points to the popularity of celebrity feng shui consultants in newspaper columns and television shows. She guessed that as many as half of the nearly seven million people in Hong Kong at least casually follow feng shui beliefs.
Calculating the number of feng shui masters is equally difficult, ranging from the hundreds to the low thousands, according to instructors of the discipline.
“We are not like other professionals, who have their own certificates and learning centers,” said Louis Wong, who studied electrical engineering at a university before deciding to teach feng shui. “It is difficult to say how many people teach feng shui, but it is very popular.”
And potentially lucrative.
Kerby Kuek, a self-styled feng shui master, says experts in the field can charge 400 dollars to 40,000 dollars to assess an apartment of 55 square meters, or about 600 square feet, depending on the fame of the consultant. Mr. Wong says feng shui classes can cost students about 250 dollars an hour.
With so many dollar signs floating around, it is little surprise that so many people want to learn feng shui and teach it to others, said Ms. Ho, the history center director.
“People in Hong Kong want quick money,” she said. “Many people see the fees charged by feng shui consultants and want a part of it.”
Such temptations are what spurred one group of feng shui masters last month to form the International Taoist Feng Shui and Metaphysics Association, hoping to restore the reputation of a profession they worry is increasingly viewed as a swindle. The association’s founders said it would offer courses to the public as well as a quality rating system for feng shui masters.
“We want the association to encourage young people to learn the cultural aspects of feng shui, its history and its roots to Taoism,” said Szeto Fat-ching, a feng shui master who helped organize the group.
Some feng shui teachers in Hong Kong are not convinced that the association will do more than serve the financial interests of the organizers, rather than enhance the reputation of a belief system possibly dating from 5,000 years ago.
“I agree with the idea of some organization to regulate feng shui in Hong Kong,” said Mr. Wong, the instructor. “But maybe this is a job for the government, and should not be left to individuals.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/world/asia/26iht-hong26.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=kerby&st=cse&scp=1


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