Piggy Lunar New Year
According to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Pig starts Sunday 18th. A Hong Kong feng shui master, Raymond Lo, says the Year of the Pig will not be very peaceful. Pig years can be turbulent because they are dominated by fire and water, Lo said. These elements tend to whip up trouble since fire and water are conflicting elements, he said.
Lillian Too, a Malaysian feng shui master is in agreement. "There will be natural disasters as bad as last year. There could be epidemics and I'm worried about the bird flu," she said.
However, the gloomy predictions won't stop ethnic Chinese - 20% of the world's population - from having a fun time in their biggest celebration of the year, the Lunar New Year. It's a time to have family dinners, wear new clothes and give the children red envelopes stuffed with gift money.
Famous people born under this zodiac sign of the Pig include former US President Ronald Reagan, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and singer Sir Elton John.
The Year of the Pig is celebrated with special sensitivity in Southeat Asian nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia with large Muslim populations that consider pigs and pork products to be unclean and offensive.
Ethnic Chinese make up 5% of Indonesia's population of 220 million. Under the dictatorship of Gen. Suharto, which ended in 1998, the Chinese were prevented from celebrating the Lunar New Year. However, that has changed now and Jakarta's Chinatown is decked out with banners and bustling with shoppers.
Yusri Mohammad, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, said in a report, he had no problem with the Chinese celebrating the pig year in Malaysia. He said the Year of the Pig is "just a symbolic concept."