As someone born in Hong Kong of partly Chinese parentage, I used to proudly claim fung shui as a part of my culture. When rational people questioned how the layout of hills and water, or furniture or mirrors, could affect the energy of a place, I would smirk and give a look that meant “How little you know.” Long after I gave up other superstitions, I would come out with the odd fung shui observation—“Don’t you think your Baccarat lamps are blocking the flow of qi in your Green Dragon corner?”—as a lingering and fashionably ethnic affectation.
These days though, I despise fung shui to its rotten core, and it is Hong Kong’s Nina Wang court case that has finally made me do it. I wish to see fung shui and its professional practitioners banned forever. I don’t want to comment on who may or may not be right in the ongoing and sordid drama of Wang’s contested wills (if you need to be apprised of the details, a quick online search will do it) but the glimpses that witnesses have given of fung shui as a business make one want to round up every fung shui compass and so-called master in town, and throw them on a bonfire. Here was a lonely and unhappy woman, persuaded to part with millions upon millions of dollars as payments for fung shui rituals. At the heart of the case is a fung shui master who once asked a client to burn HK$15,000 a day—nearly US$2000—“for luck.” (The client ended up only burning HK$1,500 a day, but he did that for a year.)
The size of the fung shui industry—the amount that tycoons privately blow on nonsensical rituals when countless other deserving causes abound—is painful to guess at. The Nina Wang case reveals only a fraction of it. If we feel it reasonable to prohibit certain scams and ban certain cults, why do we tolerate fung shui masters who urge their utterly bogus and exorbitantly costed remedies upon the gullible?