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Friday, January 10, 2014, 10:07
Focus HK: Bad karma for feng shui
By Timothy Chui

Most feng shui studios were hard hit by the sordid disclosures about how a self-declared feng shui master won the heart of Asia's richest woman with feng shui and sex, and yet some masters of the art continue to flourish in the city that takes pride in having both feet on the ground and where people usually disdain superstition. Timothy Chui writes.

The Jordan office of geomancer Peter So Man-fung is not as tidy as one might expect considering his business is all about harmony and correct placement. Unsold copies of feng shui books he has authored sit haphazardly on lacquered shelves. Stacks of papers with images of people's faces and palm prints await his judgment about what the future holds.

"All that Tony Chan stuff was just a scam," So declared. "It's the untalented finding a gimmick so outrageous that they have people in awe and elevate themselves to the supernatural level," he said.

Focus HK: Bad karma for feng shui

Hong Kong's highest-profile, still-practicing feng shui master Peter So Man-fung makes millions a year from authoring Lunar New Year almanacs, fortune readings as well as rearranging homes and offices.

The feng shui business was hard hit in the clownish debacle that unfolded after feng shui poseur Tony (now Peter) Chan presented his fraudulent claim as chosen heir to the estate of Nina Wang, Asia's wealthiest woman. Chan confessed to winning Wang's favor by posing as a master of the art and conducting rituals he read in an old book. Chan's filing of a forged will for probate got him 12 years in jail.

The fallout from Chan, not to mention those other scoundrels who duped some aspiring young fashion models into having sex on the presumption it would be good feng shui, was huge. Thanks to the bad publicity, business at local feng shui studios dropped 20 percent in 2011, International Taoist Feng Shui and Metaphysics Association (ITFSMA) founder Szeto Fat-ching said.

Business hasn't recovered since, Master Chunghui, vice-chairman of the ITFSMA, told China Daily. The association, focused on enforcing standards in the art, represents more than 100 members among the city's 10,000 or so practioners, Chunghui said.

The bad news for feng shui practitioners comes as no surprise to Cecilia Chan, head of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong. Feng shui is a luxury service, she says, like beauty consultations for wealthy, pampered women with time on their hands.

"The industry is sensitive to bad publicity. There's no standardization or monitoring. Anyone can claim to be a master. That leads to abuse, including fraud. It's led to criminal cases. Some people tried to standardize practice but there was no consensus. They couldn't even agree on a self-governing mandate that held any significance," Chan said.

Szeto and Chunghai's failure to rally their fellow masters doesn't mean the business is scuttled.

Demand for the feng shui talents of Peter So Man-fung, the city's highest-profile feng shui practitioner, and other masters at his level, remains strong.

A plaster head of Anubis, Ancient Egyptian Lord of the Underworld, pokes out behind So's desk. There's a smattering of Buddhist relics; a handful of coins, taped under a floor mat for good luck. So, who has the reassuring manner of a family physician, spoke derisively of Chan and his lover, Nina Wang, 22 years his senior, wandering around Hong Kong, digging 80 feng shui holes and filling them up with coins and jade and bits of gold for good luck. "Hocus pocus," So said dismissively.

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