Superstition And Politics


In a number of weeks, we usher in the Lunar Year of the Horse. The superstitious among us have begun searching for the zodiac to see exactly what the Wooden Equine portends.

Superstition cuts across cultures, races and faiths. It is human nature to yearn for that good luck beauty, to stick to a specific routine if it bodes well, to be wary of omens which warn of pitfalls ahead.

What about the political arena? Does superstition have a location in the running of a nation?

It’s amazing the number of Singaporeans who have actually heard the story about Lee Kuan Yew being told by a revered monk that the nation’s fortune would remain to rise only if every citizen were to carry a bagua– the eight-sided fengshui symbol. This sparked off the brainwave of minting an octagonal one-dollar coin so everybody in Singapore will wind up pocketing an eight-sided sign. And to top it off, let’s likewise have octagonal road tax discs so every car needs to spot one.

There are also tales about the 50-dollar costs, the Merlion and the Singapore Flyer, amongst others. Truth or fiction? Reality or report?

In the book “Hard Truths,” Lee Kuan Yew brushes off the one about the eight-sided one-dollar coin: “People spin these yarns! It doesn’t bother me.” In fact, he proclaims he is not a believer in any of the things: “Utter rubbish! Utter rubbish! I’m a practical, useful other. I do not think in horoscopes. I do not believe in fengshui.”.

Incidentally, when the Monetary Authority of Singapore presented the Singapore Third Series coins last year, the one-dollar coin, despite receiving a re-design, still kept its octagonal frame. Strange that it should keep its uncommon shape these previous 30 years. The exact same opts for that road tax disc.

Even if Lee harbors superstitious beliefs, exists anything unfortunate? If he had Singapore’s finest interests at heart and was willing to go to fantastic lengths to protect the country and protect’s prosperity, there is no wrong, certainly.

Superstition amongst politicians is not rare. It has actually been widely reported that during the Ronald Reagan presidency, virtually every significant move and decision made in the White Residence was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who prepared horoscopes to make certain the worlds were in positive positioning. Ideas that specific days were bad for the Head of state brought about the cancellation of speeches and interview and the curtailment of travel.

Barack Obama is likewise superstitious. He plays basketball on every election day since it is said to bring him luck. The only time he failed to do so, he lost the New Hampshire main election. And prior to governmental disputes, he habitually dines on steak and potatoes.

Superstition is all over in China. The number 8 is considered lucky, so it was no mishap that the Communist Celebration selected 8pm, August 8, 2008 for the launch of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Back home, you might remember that last November, PM Lee Hsien Loong tweeted that he found a surprise visitor in the Istana through a barn owl “which had flown into the structure overnight, and perched itself easily high up out of reach”. In the native Cherokee culture, along with numerous various other Native American cultures, owls are an extremely bad omen.

Soon afterward, Singapore’s first riot in 40 years broke out, ending the year on a bitter note. The riot also took the thunder from the ruling PAP, which held a weekend convention to launch its brand-new manifesto. The public interest was focused on the riot, not the PAP manifesto. On hindsight, we can see the owl as indeed a bad omen, or we might still dismiss it as plain coincidence.

Whatever the case, whether one is superstitious, it’s difficult to disagree with the late Dr Goh Keng Swee who once stated that it is much better to be born fortunate than smart.

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