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Enter the Dragon: A Lunar New Year Survival Kit

Enter the Dragon: A Lunar New Year Survival Kit

Midnight tonight marks the advent of the Year of the Dragon, the most auspicious

moment of the Chinese twelve year lunar cycle.

The fifth of the zodiac's twelve animal signs, the dragon was originally the symbol

of the Chinese emperor and is regarded by Chinese as a harbinger of good fortune.

Consequently, dragon years traditionally spark mini baby-booms within Chinese communities

across Asia due to the traits of high intelligence, ambition and leadership skills

attributed to children born under the sign of the dragon.

However, former local dragon baby Saloth Sar aka Pol Pot suggests that dragon children

might just as easily develop more malevolent aspects of the dragon personality.

According to Wu Pei Lung of Phnom Penh's Ta Cheng Hospital, staff obstetricians don't

anticipate a bumper crop of dragon children over the coming year.

"Local Chinese don't attach a lot of significance to the coming dragon year,"

she told the Post. "We aren't expecting to deliver an above-average [number]

of babies this year."

As this coming dragon year embodies the element of gold, the year of the golden dragon

is being generally viewed as particularly indicative of prosperity and bounty for


But Wu Jing Shing, an ethnic Chinese fortune teller who works out of his home on

the corner of Nehru Boulevard and Street 182 warns against what he describes as "rash


"The coming year will mean different things to different people, depending on

their particular zodiac sign and the element (fire, water, air, earth and gold) associated

with their year of birth," Wu explained. "Every week, every day, every

minute of the coming year offers individual levels of risk and opportunity to all


Below is Wu's thumbnail sketch of what the Golden Dragon year holds in store for

each of the signs of the Chinese zodiac and some Cambodian luminaries born under

each sign. Please note that in traditional Chinese astrology all twelve zodiac animals

are highly valued and assume none of the negative qualities assigned them in western


1. The Rat (1936, 1948, 1960,

1972, 1984)

"This will be a dangerous year for those born under the sign of the rat,"

Wu cautions.

According to Wu, the second to the fifth month of the lunar calendar will prove particularly

dicey in terms of health, while long-distance travel during the sixth to the tenth

month of the year is not recommended. However, Wu adds that the year of the snake

will be far more rat-friendly.

Such news might well clip the wings of Cambodia's high-flying Minister of Tourism,

Veng Sereyvuth (1960)

2. The Ox (1937, 1949, 1961,

1973, 1985)

"This is a very good year for Ox sign individuals, Wu reports. "Health

and prospects of success are very high."

With commune elections scheduled for the coming year, count on ox sign Opposition

leader Sam Rainsy (1949) tapping the potential of his birth sign to the fullest.

3. The Tiger (1938, 1950, 1962,

1974, 1986)

Tigers face a mixed bag in terms of dragon year fortunes. Overall, Wu says it

will be a "dangerous year" for tigers, with concerns over health and career

prospects casting a pall until at least Feb 2001. Wu's assurance that younger tigers

might be astrologically well-positioned for marriage will be cold comfort for former

KR commander Ta Mok (1926), who has anything but matrimony in mind as he cools his

heels in Phnom Penh's Military Prison.

4. The Rabbit (1939, 1951, 1963,

1975, 1987)

Rabbits are looking at enjoying a very fruitful dragon year. "Marriage and

career prospects are very good for those under this sign," Wu says. This is

likely the only good news former KR Brother Number Two Nuon Chea (1927) will be getting

over the coming months as the government makes moves toward the formation of a KR

tribunal in which he'll have star defendant status.

5. The Dragon (1940, 1952, 1964,

1976, 1988)

Paradoxically, the year of the dragon is projected to be particularly unkind to

those born under the dragon sign. Health and travel are considered to hold the potential

for particular risk, while those considering marriage are urged by Wu to hold off

until the year of the horse.

Food for thought for Cambodia's top dragon, Prime Minister Hun Sen (1952).

6. The Snake (1941, 1953, 1965,

1977, 1989)

Prudence and caution are the watchwords for those born under the snake sign for

the latter half of dragon year and beyond. "Starting from the sixth month of

dragon year until the sixth month of snake year, things won't be very stable,"

Wu says.

Hard words for leading Pailin snake and former DK Foreign Minister Ieng Sary.

7. The Horse (1942, 1954, 1966,

1978, 1990)

"The first two months of the dragon year won't be very good for horses,"

Wu says. "Arguments and confrontation are very likely in this time."

Easily handled by Kek Galabru (1942), Director of the Cambodian League for the Promotion

and Defense of Human Rights (Licadho).

8. The Sheep (1943, 1955, 1967,

1979, 1991)

Those born under the year of the sheep (or goat - the Chinese language doesn't

distinguish between the two) are advised by Wu to make hay while the sun shines.

A very good year for sheep is ahead...enjoy your health and make money," Wu


A more likely prospect for Princess Bopha Devi (1943) than former Brother Number

Four Khieu Samphan (1931) up in Pailin.

9. The Monkey (1944, 1956, 1968,

1980, 1992)

"Dragon year is very lucky for those born under the sign of the monkey,"

Wu says. Career prospects are excellent and it's a good time to initiate construction


A positive outlook for President of the National Assembly Prince Norodom Ranarridh


10. The Rooster (1945, 1957,

1969, 1981, 1993)

In the aftermath of the recent top-level personnel shuffles of the armed forces

Rooster Tea Banh, Minister of Defense (1945), might be relieved to hear that the

best might be yet to come. "It's a good year for roosters ... career advancement

is likely," reports Wu.

11. The Dog (1946, 1958, 1970,

1982, 1994)

"The past year has been difficult for dogs, but the worst is over,"

explains Wu. "Dragon year will bring those born under the dog sign success that

so far has seemed unattainable."

Encouraging words indeed for Finance Minister Keat Chhon (1934) as he begins the

process of weaning the Kingdom from its longtime dependence on foreign aid.

12. The Pig (1947, 1959, 1971,

1983, 1995)

Wu predicts a very mixed bag in dragon year for those born under the pig. "The

past year has been bad for those of the pig sign. ... They've made money, achieved

some success, but then squandered it," he explains. "Dragon year will bring

less financial success, but greater prospects for good physical health."

Not a bad trade-off for Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong (1935).


New Year in Phnom Penh

Chinese New Year is overwhelmingly a family-oriented celebration with little in the

way of public spectacles for curious non-Chinese.

The only two Lunar New Year festivities accessible to the public are already over.

On Feb 3, Phnom Penh's Teochiu Chinese community hosted a New Year's party at the

Olympic Stadium. An observance of the coming New Year was held in the early morning

hours of Feb 4 in front of the Royal Palace, with participants later shifting to

a New Year's party on the grounds of the Chinese Embassy.

Last chance for Dragon Year party crashers is an invitation-only display of lion

and dragon dancing on the ground's of Hun Sen's home in Takmao Feb 5.


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