Tuesday, January 27, 2009


The Ox has started its year of reign, although many are wishing it was the bull instead reigning in the stock markets. There's the customary lighting up of firecrackers to drive away evil spirits and bad luck. Will it be a year of boom and bloom, or doom and gloom? The jury still seems to be out on this one. Whatever the verdict, it is difficult to get into the celebratory mood this year as thousands of Malaysians have lost their jobs, with the number expected to rise further after the festival.

God of Prosperity giving out red packets (ang pows) of money .

A week before the Chinese New Year (CNY), I had no problem changing old notes for new ones at the bank. And there were stacks of ang-pow packets for the taking. During the same period last year, banks had already run out of new notes and red packets.

I was in Chinatown a few days before the Lunar New Year. The usual pre-festival crowds were missing. Only a few stalls did brisk business selling CNY decorations and foodstuff.

Chinatown minus the Chinese New Year festive cheer.

Many families opted for reunion dinners at home. At the restaurant where we had our family CNY dinner, only half the tables were occupied. Many companies are not giving their staff bonuses. With less money to celebrate, it is not surprising that people are spending less on their CNY shopping. And what about ang-pows (red packets containing money)? Fewer are given out, and fewer received. From what I have heard, the amount too has shrunk drastically.

On the bright side, prices of some products and services have gone down as supply exceeds demand. It’s easier to negotiate with landlords for lower rentals, or with car dealers for hefty discounts. Increasing prices during this period would be suicidal for most businesses. Hypermarkets, food courts and budget airlines are among the few businesses that will see profits.

It is important to maintain optimism. While the economic crisis may not affect us seniors as much as it may affect our adult children and grandchildren, it is prudent for us to tighten our belts a notch or two, and avoid dipping unnecessarily into our retirement savings and pension funds.

For the Chinese during this CNY festive season that lasts till February 9, there should be no letting up in observing traditions, especially those that bring good luck and prosperity. So immerse yourself in the colour red which symbolizes good fortune. Eat food that have auspicious names, toss yee sang (raw fish salad) to increase your chances of making money, and pray that the God of Prosperity will smile on you this year!

Surround yourself with all things red and auspicious.

Tossing yee sang for prosperity in the coming year.

Here’s wishing all my blog visitors a Happy and Prosperous New Year. We certainly need it.

Me and my grandchildren, Reiya, 3, and Max, 8. We wish you "Gong Xi Fa Cai".

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