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Friday, 20 January 2012

Dragon year roars !

May this Water Dragon roar?


Much is pinned on 2012, and as we enter the Year of the Dragon, let it also turn out to be a watershed.

THE dragon is both feared and revered not only by the Chinese but also by almost every ancient civilisation. Fables tell of the wisdom and beauty, as well as the evil and tyranny, of the majestic mythical beast.

The Europeans – whether the Anglo-Saxons of middle Europe or the Vikings of the North – have their favourite tales of the dragon.

The English-educated among us will remember the fable of St George, who rescued a fair maiden from being sacrificed to a mean and ferocious fire-breathing beast.

The Vikings believed that the dragons fought with their gods, and very often won such battles. The ancient Scandinavians hero-worshipped these creatures, and even named and designed famed war boats after them.

The ancient Greeks and Egyptians shared the Vikings’ belief that the dragons fought constantly with the gods, and their battles were responsible for earthquakes, floods and all sorts of disasters that we blame today on nature.

Festive colours: Workers decorating a dragon-shaped sculpture in preparation for a dragon dance for the upcoming Chinese New Year in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, China. — Reuters

Basically, in the ancient west, dragons were always portrayed as baddies, if not evil itself. Even these days, Hollywood movies would, more often than not, portray the mythical flying and fire-breathing beast as a destructive force.

However, in the east, the dragons were the good guys – often seen as divine beings or blessings from the gods. Regardless of the myth being of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Bhutanese or Korean origin (all these cultures share the same lunar calendar), the dragon is always a symbol of wisdom, wealth and power.

To the ancient Chinese, not all dragons are created equal because, historically, the winged serpent was the symbol of the Emperor of China. In the Zhou Dynasty, the five-clawed dragon symbolised the Son of Heaven (Emperor), the four-clawed the nobles and the three-clawed the ministers.

This changed in the later Qin Dynasty. The five-clawed dragon became exclusive to the Emperor. Everyone else was free to use the various other claw combinations.

Chinese dragon stamp draws fire for 'scaring' the world {China hasn't issued a stamp with this ferocious a dragon since 1878 (Photo Xinhua)} >>

On Monday, January 23rd-2012 the new moon in Aquarius heralds in the Chinese New Year. The year of the Water Dragon begins and the year of the Metal Rabbit ends.

Even in Malaysia, we have our own dragon legends, with the one supposedly in Tasik Chini being the most famous. The Chini Naga fought off the Sri Kemboja Naga, forcing it to flee north to where Cambodia is today.

Many people living in Tasik Chini still talk about the monster that lives in the lake which at one stage was drying up due to logging at its tributary rivers. However, the lake is now flourishing again and is a popular local tourist spot, especially for anglers.

The animal sign for this lunar year is the dragon whose element is water. The last Year of the Water Dragon was between Jan 27, 1952 and Feb 13, 1953.

Yes, just like 12 years ago when the dragon last visited us, there will be a rush “to make dragon babies” because people born under this sign are deemed to be very lucky in life.

Among famous dragon personalities are actors Christopher Reeves, Patrick Swayze, David Hasselhoff and Liam Neeson, and author Amy Tan.

In Malaysia, among those born 60 years ago – and thus also water dragons – are PKR president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, tycoon and Berjaya boss Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah.

A water dragon may sound harmless enough but that depends on which astrologer, feng shui master or seer one speaks to.

Some see it as the most thinking of all dragons because the person born under this sign is serene, calm and unhurried – just like water. He or she is also very persuasive and can wear down anyone with charm and diplomacy.

However, other readers of the stars call the water dragon the tsunami dragon because water is the only element that can destroy the other four elements – wood, fire, metal and earth.

They expect those born this year to be able to sweep away all those standing in their way, just like a tsunami.

Personally, I hope that the 2012 dragon will bring about definite decisions to the many questions that have been thrown up in the past few years.

For one thing, I hope that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will call a general election soon and that Malaysians respond by making a firm decision on what they want.

Another thing that needs thorough cleaning is the world’s economy. There has been so much uncertainty in the world’s economy because there doesn’t seem to be an end to financial crashes – first in the United States, then in Europe.

Ratings by rating houses are supposed to indicate for sure what the value of various financial instruments is. Instead, these rating houses’ downgrading of various European Union states’ credit ratings as well as the rescue package has only caused further uncertainty.

Rating houses, just like hedge funds, need to be fried by the dragon.

Hopefully, the Dragon Year will bring about a total collapse of the world’s economic system so that we can replace it with one that actually works. It’s time to wipe the slate clean.

It is time for the water dragon to roar and show its colours.

Executive editor Wong Sai Wan wishes everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai, and may the dragon year be a blessed one.

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