Singapore’s Left Hand

I met up with some friends while I was in Singapore during my stopover to Auckland, who remarked to me how much of Singapore was built based on the principles of Feng Shui.

A lot of people have this misconception that Feng Shui revolves around strange monks doing weird chants.
As much as Feng Shui is sometimes being disregarded as superstition, you gotta admit it is a pretty cool topic to know more about. It’s not so much a New Age “Zen” thing like psychic gypsies and astrological starsigns, more so a traditional Chinese way of life. Despite being an ancient practice from yonks ago, a lot of its recommendations are still very practical in the modern world. Sometimes you don’t realise how powerful it is until you apply them yourselves.
In East Asian countries especially, Feng Shui is very much part of the protocol in the business world by de facto. Even today, when people want to get married or move to a new home, they still have seek consultation “to get a good date”.

The Chinese believe that in order to achieve harmony, the sky (“tian”), the earth (“di”) and the human (“ren”) must be in harmony. “Tian” being what we’re born with – it’s our predetermined genetic make-up, our DNA. “Earth” being the environment we live in, which is something dynamic, and sometimes evade our control even with the best of Feng Shui applications.
The only variable left in charge of our destiny lies within ourselves.

Master Vincent Koh, a celebrity in the realm of Feng Shui

Feng Shui is big in Singapore. So big, you can even attend a course in Singapore Polytechnic to obtain a diploma in Feng Shui if you want to.
When I met with Master Vincent Koh, founder of the Singapore Feng Shui Centre and the lecturer of the Feng Shui course at Singapore Polytechnic, he explained to me that Feng Shui is simply a set of guidelines to ensure our way of living responds to our surrounding elements.
I have to admit, I am a bit of an idiot when it comes to this whole thing. Although I have travelled to Singapore extensively many times in the past, I never notice how heavily the design and architecture of the buildings in Singapore are influenced by Feng Shui.

Sarawak’s own Master Shang

It wasn’t until I met Master Shang Zong Wei of Shang Architects in Singapore, that I understood why some of the most prominent Singaporean buildings are structured a certain way. Many Singaporeans, and some believe the father of modern Singapore Lee Kwan Yew, are firm believers of Feng Shui. It is little coincidence that the Little Red Dot has today one of Asia’s wealthiest economy.

The single most prominent symbol of Singapore’s dedication to Feng Shui is undoubtedly, Suntec City. The collection of 4 tall skinny buildings, 1 short building and the wide convention centre are intentionally positioned that way to resemble the shape of the human left hand. Left hand being the symbol of authority, pointing towards Singapore’s financial district at Raffles Place, commanding all of Singapore’s cash to come to momma.
Why is the left hand the symbol of authority?

Because Darth Vader says so. And NOBODY disputes with Darth Vader, the great Sith Lord.
Placed at the “palm” of the “left hand” is the world’s largest fountain – water representing life and wealth. The ring-shaped structure of the fountain is essential in “retaining” the water. Without it, water (and thus, wealth) flows out through the fingers.
It’s a pretty impressive concept having Suntec City resemble a left hand. If it were up to me, I would have built a similar “left hand” in Kuching. Except it’ll have four short buildings and one tall building in the middle, pointing towards Indonesia saying “OI! Thanks A LOT for giving us the haze, buddy!”

Double trouble

Unfortunately, life isn’t always a bed of roses for the highly successful Suntec City. Its harmonious environment was disrupted shortly after that spiky-shaped Esplanade building was completed in its nearby vicinity. While performing maintenance work, crane at Suntec City fell and damaged one of the fountain’s supporting pillar.
Whatever you think it is, you gotta admit that it’s a pretty freaky coincidence.

There are a lot more icons of such success stories in Singapore. Some are the stuff of legends, such as how the octagonal shapes of SGD$1 coins are meant to resemble a Chinese “ba gua”; and how the doors of the Grand Hyatt Hotel were designed to slant at right-angles to each other.

Previously, when the reception at Grand Hyatt was facing a long flat glass door entrance, it was doing poorly despite its brilliant location.
Along came a Feng Shui Master, who noticed that good vibes were flowing out from the lobby counters, through the glass walls and spilling into the streets. So the front doors were redesigned and the counters repositioned. Today, the Grand Hyatt Hotel today enjoys one of the city state’s highest occupancy rates.

Other Singaporean Feng Shui stories are less well-known.
Master Shang told me that when the Paragon Shopping Centre on Orchard Road was being built, his teacher Master Tan was consulted. He was worried that fortress-shaped Ngee Ann City from across the road might “intimidate” the Paragon building. So the wise ol’ Master suggested that Paragon be built to include features of a White Tiger – a celestical creature in Feng Shui. Y’know, just to show Mr Ngee Ann who’s the one in charge around here.

The silver “stripes” on the white building are done exactly for that reason.
Feng Shui has huge following worldwide. So huge, they’re organising a 2-day International Feng Shui Convention in Singapore on the 4-5 November. It’s the largest English-speaking Feng Shui convention of its kind, and is targeted towards everyone from architects to designers, business owners to home owners, to just everyday people.
For cultural buffs like myself, I think it’s just an invaluable opportunity to find out more about this traditional Chinese culture.

I think the Feng Shui Convention is gonna be really worth it lor. This convention isn’t just one person talking. It involves many practitioners from different schools and sects in Feng Shui, including Masters Vincent Koh and Shang Zong Wei. Where else can you find an event that includes some of the most knowledgable Masters from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, UK and Australia all under one roof? It’s gonna be like Feng Shui Idol, man.
You know what the best thing is? I managed to negotiate for readers to get a sweet 5% discount off registration fees if you decide to book through this website.
Just in case you’re wondering – don’t worry, there will NOT be strange monks doing weird chants during the opening ceremony.

Music of the Moment: Fergie – London Bridge

81 Replies to “Singapore’s Left Hand”

  1. wow, that sound realli impressive
    i din noe there’s so many hidden theory in the sg architectures =)
    Hehe gues this society is complex..
    So can fengshui explain the Asia Miracles of Sg, Tw, Hk and prolly msia =) hehhehe

  2. I’ve had three different Fengshui/BaZi teachers (Master Vincent Koh was one of them) and I wish I could learn/practise more. It’s good to see more young people getting interested in this because there is a definite science behind it and fengshui/bazi should not continue to be buried under the superstitions of the less educated.

  3. i gotta say though, a fengshui master with those ‘Fengshui for Dummies’ or ‘Idiot’s Guide to…’ isn’t all too inspiring.
    I’m sure he knows his stuff, but having those books there sure would raise some eyebrows.

  4. lilian too too commercialised. she will ask you to buy her whole shop and put everything in your house for good feng shui. lol…
    joey yap is not bad though..

  5. Having lived in Singapore for so many years, did not realise the feng shui about those building’s structure. Well, although I am not living in Singapore now, I hope Singapore will continue to be wealthy πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing these stories, Kenny!!

  6. Hey Kenny, are you attending ? If yes, maybe I will go and meet you up.
    Personally I have attended Joey Yap’s courses but I am not doing consultation. Just for personal interest.

  7. Kenny, I guess your self-element is wood. That’s why your blog with blue-colored background or your black shirts (That make you look slim) very ONG for you. Cos water (blue or black) produces wood. If you don’t believe can try red color (represent fire) which exhausts wood. Or metalic colors (represent metal) which destroys wood. See what will happen to ya

  8. I’m impressed with your knowledge of Singapore, the story of Hyatt and the one dollar coins. Apparently some Feng Shui master suggested to make the layout of the city according to an octagonal layout but it was too complicated so they decided to spread the octagonal shapes as much as they could around the city and some bright head came up with the idea of putting the octagon on the coins.
    Even the common people will occasionally discuss these things and a place like Clake Quay is an excellent place to go to see Feng Shui in action. All the shops along the river are doing great, water is as you say really important. To make the shop owners that are away from the river happy they decided to put a fountain inside the Clarke Quay development.

  9. i thought they were shouting the equivalant of “fu*k you … fu*k you … fu*k you lalalala! ” but its damn awesome lah! they werent.. so.. i must have heard wrongly. =)

  10. Hey Kenny,tt’s so coolz..Master Vincent Koh’s my ex-boss’s mentor(shifu)in FengShui..She(my ex-boss)is a practictioner of Fengshui in Spore..I used to worked & learn under her b4 comin2 Aussie to further my studies(bout 1+yrs ago)..Vincent Koh used to come dw to visit us at our kiosk(Asian Evolution- HOFS~House of Fengshui)in Suntec City..he is really nice too..dont u think? =)
    & u’re absolutely right bout the fengshui in Spore & esp in Suntec..Suntec itself is built by 10 wealthy ppl in business(then) each w diff fengshui masters(who work together to build it)& if u notice the fountain of wealth is built as a roundabout in a clockwise direction(where vehicles drive) to invite/create gd fortune/wealth/luck..& the water of the fountain is on at certain time of the day for tt purpose too..Fengshui is so profound eh =) Will wanna learn 4rm my ex-boss’s mentor when I finish my degree in aussie..& back to my old poly days in SP!*grin*

  11. I love singapore.
    love grand hyatt. love the rooms there.
    love orchard road.
    love suntec city.
    love ritz as well.
    was only there a couple of months ago. and a month before that…:)

  12. If i’m not wrong the pieces of paper (not sure what its called, some licensing thingy) they paste on their car windscreens are also octagonal for the same reason as the 1 dollar coins.

  13. I have to say I think feng shui is a load of shit but hey, whatever floats your boat 😎
    *is a total skeptic*

  14. Perhaps Kenny is getting richer with some commissions for visitors who reference his blog…hahaha…He sure would thank Feng Shui for his “luck”. Kaching!

  15. Do you know that one of the hsbc banks in the states have feng sui master all the way from hong kong to have 2 huge lions placed in front of the door are to scare Citibank which is door to door opposite from them? Then, citibank has another feng sui master from asia to refurbish their door to sideways to suck all the $$$ from hsbc.
    even in states, they believe in feng sui in doing business.

  16. this piece is interesting alright…
    but, i can´t stop wondering why kenny is suddenly doing a coverage about fengshui out of the blue…
    been approached by someone argh?
    hehe!they promised to “ong” up your house for you so your coconut can grow healthier? πŸ˜‰

  17. hilton hotel has got two chinese deities because he building opposite resembles a tombstone. Just stand with your back facing Hilton and look up and across. The deities are to “protect” the hotel.
    and Ngee Ann isn’t fortress-like. It’s shaped like a chinese tomb as well.
    and the $1 coin looking like a bah-gua….long story..

  18. I tot you were providing some useful tips about feng shui in the beginning, but in the end, you were trying to make some money.
    I dun think any of your reader to go to that convention.

  19. wow! u do noe alot! Im particularly amazed by the $1 coin. heard that LKY was advised by a fengshui master to let every singaporean possess a ba gua. He tot of this idea, of having an octagonal shape on the coin! smart rite!

  20. Kenny, 338 sing dollar less 5% discount is still expensive-lah for an average income kennysia reader like me. Who would want to go there? But I don’t mind Master Kenny Sia sponsor all of his kennysia readers for this convention since Kenny should be rich now after consulting Master Vincent and Master Shang.

  21. omg! i din noe all of those b4 u said tt, even though im a singaporean =X heard b4 suntec’s fountain of wealth bringing wealth bah. haha. u interested in feng shui now too? πŸ˜‰

  22. muahaahaha….since when you started believing in feng shui? sounds interesting, but 5% discount is still X for me…thx cya!

  23. If I am able to,I would definitely support the building of your “four little buildings” and “one tower”.

  24. Is it for Feng Shui that you changed Lee Kuan Yew’s name to Lee Kwan Yew? Don’t play play okay, wait kena sue then gotta pray pray.

  25. Right now, we need wind and water to drive away the haze from Indonesia, more than any tip from any fengshui master. No fengshui master can cause the wind to blow the haze away from Singapore and Malaysia.

  26. Kenny, is the palm holding the coin belongs to your? Isn’t it a 斷掌? Good for a guy eh!
    Btw, once I went to MPH, I flipped through the Chinese Zodiac Books by Lillian Too. My friend’s a Tiger, I’m an OX, the 2 books were saying the same thing. Then, I flipped through another few books of different zodiacs, SAME THING again! So, when my sis asked me to help her buy some crystal from ‘the shop’, I refused. hahaha… coz I don’t trust LT.

  27. you’re going to change your profesion into feng shui??? Fuiyo~ going to be a millionaire in no time….. XD

  28. Lilian Too is good in selling crystal only. You can get the same crystal at Petaling Street at half of the price you get from World of Feng Shui shop. Unfortunately suckers born every minute. Some of her outlets are not doing well and I don’t know what Lilian Too has to say about the feng shui??

  29. lilian too not doing well because she is ripping people off with highly priced Ang Kong Kia
    get yourself a real chi generator instead.
    It really works well for me. πŸ™‚

  30. i dont know about others but feng shui seems looks like a borderline of the un-real world and the real world. somethng like, “plug it into the matrix (un-real world).. then later unplug them (real world)” .. haha just kidding ok? cheers friends!

  31. Wow thanks man.. make me know a lot more about my country. Hahahhahaa.. The only thing I know that’s mentioned in your post is the coin thingy. *guilty*

  32. I’m very skeptical about fengshui but I know that some aspects are really made up. Can’t divulge too much or it’ll land me into trouble.
    Ooh I know Master Shang. He read my life before for free…he said I’m doomed to have bad relationships till 60. Bah. He’s evil.

  33. Oh I love Feng-Shui! It’s my side hobbie! If you or anyone else is interested in learning a bit more about it, there is a grand lady living in your country by the name of ‘Lillian Too’ and she is arguably the most credible and famous Feng-Shui practitioner in the world! Her books are written in a simple, easy-to-read, comprehensible manner and her seminars are very entertaining. Feng-Shui is becoming very popular in the western countries due to her influence. =)

  34. What utter and complete balls. Potential racist/politically incorrect comment coming: not meant as offensive, but…
    This is one of the reasons why Chinese civilisation stagnated until now, (when it will become the worlds global superpower unless the US nuke it), and, apart from fallow periods caused by religion, western (scientific) civilisation flourished to the point where China now follows it’s lead.
    3000 years ago, Chinese science was advanced. But superstition (I mean, eating Tiger penises to get a hard on….please!!) and crap like Feng Shui are retarding progress, and did so for many years.

  35. I heard that they way ngee ann city was built was based on feng shui too. The area where the building occupies used to be some cementary or something, and so when they built ngee ann city, the building was designed to look like joss sticks to show respect for the dead or something. Cant really remember the whole thing.

  36. oh sorry but paragon isn’t doing that well as compared to ngee ann city. in fact, it’s recognized internationally that ngee ann city is said to have the world’s best feng shui.
    on a cemetry ground long ago, a hotel was built and the haunted events eventually chased their customers away. some feng shui master advised to built ngee ann city in the shape of a tombstone (the front view from paragon and lucky plaza). this is to “ya1 fen2”. plus the 5 singapore flags in front is to resemble 5joss sticks and plus the two lions and the fountain to represent wealth flowing in.
    so now, ngee ann city is the on taking charge but it generates the most revenue out of the whole CBD area. so where’s the white tiger xD

  37. Lilian Too is crap. Her books are too generalise.
    To make Fengshui work you gotta calculate your 8 characters (Ba Zi) and 5 elements (Wu Xing.
    Fengshui masters are more personalised, that’s y they are more expensive. :p

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