Having Bad Luck? Blame it on the Plants!

After a string of bad luck, the Thai government has decided that the best way to bring about national reconciliation in Thailand is to move around some furniture and potted plants at Government House. I don’t want to belittle the beliefs of the people in government, but wouldn’t it be better if they paid a little less attention to feng shui and more to the hard work of solving the problems that the country is and has been facing for the last four years or so?

Here is the news according to MCOT:

“The Thai government has readjusted its feng shui at Government House according to Chinese cosmological understandings to enhance luck and prosperity as well as to create peacefulness. Six potted plants of one species were placed on the lawn in front of the Thai Ku Fah Building, opposite its entrance, where Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva enters the Government House compound. The placement of plants there is believed to avoid and drive away bad luck. It is also believed the bright colours of the plants, yellow and green, are to enhance luck and prosperity and to create unity as well as bringing out the honest and boost charisma. The feng shui at Government House had previously been adjusted once, according to the government’s past problems. A Happy Buddha was invited on the rooftop above the prime minister’s office and round marbles were decorated at several spots of the Thai Ku Fah building to fend off bad luck and enhance good luck and prosperity.”

I know a lot of Thai people believe in feng shui. I have had first hand experience of some of them paying a lot of money to an expert who gave advice on how to improve their life and well-being and also how to drive out any bad luck. I remember once coming back to my school office after the summer holidays to find that all of the tables in our computer office had been ripped away from the partition. This was done so that we could all sit at our computers facing north. Apparently we would be more productive workers. I am not sure about that but our office certainly looks a mess now. The partitions had hidden compartments that had the electricity sockets and wiring for the networks. Now all our wires run across the floor. Another teacher gets leg ache because he is no longer facing head-in to his cubicle. He has to sit from left to right with his chair up against the partition. But, this is Thailand and no-one dared complain about this to the school admin. They just had to suffer in silence. Actually, this particular teacher no longer spends so much time working at his computer.

Last year one of the 6th Grade students committed suicide by jumping from the 6th floor of the school building. Apparently when he had arrived in the morning, he had calmly gone up to his classroom on the 5th floor and put his bag on his chair. He then went up to the computer center on the 6th floor and jumped from the balcony. He actually survived the fall and one of the teachers on duty in the playground picked him up, put him on the back of a samlor (three-wheeled bicycle) and took him to the hospital. Sadly he died in intensive care later. The speculation at the time was that he killed himself after having an argument with his father about video games. Naturally, his teachers also felt a bit guilty as he could have been reacting to any one of them if they had scolded him the day before. I think if this had happened in the West the school probably would have put up higher barriers to stop the students climbing out to the balcony. In Thailand, the normal solution to problems like this is to remove any potted plants that are deemed unlucky. The feng shui expert also told the admin that we needed to have some large shiny marbles around the school in order to ward off any further bad luck.

I know I sound cynical but I feel that other methods are needed in order to keep away any bad luck. Like practical methods. But, I guess I have turned Thai myself and no longer fuss so much about safety. I remember when I first came here to Thailand I kept going on about the need to have fire extinguishers and a real evacuation plan in case of emergency at the school. No-one wanted to talk about it. Do you know why? If we did, then it would invite this bad luck to the school. So, if there was a fire in the future, I would then be blamed for the bad luck that brought it about. I guess I should be thankful that I didn’t mention anything about my worry of the balconies on each floor in the school building. But then again, maybe if I had said something and kicked up a fuss, maybe that student wouldn’t have been able to jump to his death. Sometimes just moving plants around in a certain order is not enough. We need to look at the underlying causes of these problems and then take practical steps to prevent any catastrophe before it happens.

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