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Tuesday, 12 June 2018 00:00;
Published in Blog;

In a couple of on-line discussion panels, I occasionally follow, attention has recently been drawn to the feng shui of the Singapore venue for the upcoming meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. The summit, if it does actually go ahead, is slated to be held on Singapore’s Sentosa Island, at the prestigious Capella Resort Hotel. Designed by renowned British architect Sir Norman Foster; principal architect behind HSBC’s Hong Kong HQ, the Capella has, what is frequently, but incorrectly referred to, as a Colonial Style façade. I say incorrectly, because more appropriately the style is in fact, Imperialist. The distinction in this case, is important, when we consider that the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, are both imperialist in nature. Kim is quite clearly Emperor in all but name in his dynastically ruled realm, and the USA behaves quite un-ashamedly imperialistically in its self-appointed role of ‘Leader of the Free World. Indeed, never more-so, than since Trump has been president.   

 The Imperialist style architecture of the Capella Hotel’s facade, Sentosa Island.

The significance of the symbolism and getting the terminology used to describe it, correct, becomes crystal clear when putting it the into context of a frequently used but rather enigmatic, even highly controversial method in feng shui which calls up or, evokes, potential consequences that might be expected to result from either the shape or imagery of buildings. It is wise however, to always keep in mind that this form of feng shui analysis is highly subjective and can, and frequently does, quickly lead from the sublime to the ridiculous! If we look at earlier instances where this kind of methodology has been applied to buildings in traditional feng shui analyses in attempts to work-out something of the effect their shapes and symbolism have on the surroundings and people within their vicinity, we need look no further than Singapore’s arch feng shui rival, Hong Kong; often claimed to be the feng shui capital of the world. (Quite a claim huh?) Three of the more famous buildings referenced for their nefarious feng shui in Hong Kong are:

  • The Bank of China’s highly aggressive axe/knife-like imagery. So aggressive is it deemed, that its reputed that the HSBC in a tit for tat move, placed a pair of faux cannon atop its own megalithic tower to ward off the glass axe of the Bank of China. In a kind of ‘Gotcha, hahaha, my cannons trump your glass axe!’, kinda move.

The Bank of China (1990) and its aggressive glass-axe feng shui and the HSBC building (1985) with the faux cannons added atop and firing at the BOC.

Image © Danny Thorn

  • The much older but none-the-less just as controversial Connaught Centre (now renamed Jardine House), Hong Kong’s first true skyscraper (1972). It’s a building that has been perceived by many to have negative feng shui because of all the round porthole style windows, which it’s been claimed, replicate bites taken out of a piece of cheese by hungry mice; giving it a chewed-up look. Another, even less salubrious moniker for it, has been ‘The House of a Thousand Arseholes’. (Well, I did warn you it was less than salubrious!) Others however, perhaps with a more glass half-full perspective, take the line that with so many windows being round like coins, the building actually sucks in wealth from Hong Kong’s fragrant harbour. However, as in any glass half-empty/glass half-full argument, both sides point to factors they feel validate their own perspectives. We have to concede, nevertheless, the outcomes are nearly always subjective anyway. (I personally know of at least three companies which once enjoyed the razzamatazz of the Connaught Centre’s dizzying heights, but that ended up in sickeningly controversial, official doodoos over their questionable trade dealings, and all of which ultimately went out of business. One rather spectacular case even climaxed with its directors on the run from Uncle Sam and his decidedly, imperialistic CIA!) That said, there was a time when the New Zealand High Commission also ran their offices out the Connaught Centre; I don’t recall any issues for the High Commission whilst there?

The Connaught Centre, now renamed Jardine House.

Mouse bitten, ‘House of a Thousand Arseholes’, or a building with coins to attract in wealth? You choose!

Image © Danny Thorn

  • The Hopewell Centre (1980). This was Hong Kong’s first circular, high-rise tower and caused much consternation at the time of its initial erection in feng shui circles, believed as it was then, to represent a candle such as might be found at a traditional Chinese funeral. The response by the building’s owner to this fiery feng shui criticism was to place a further floor on top which contains a swimming pool, thus preventatively, and permanently, hushing its apocalyptic naysayers.

So, what’s to be intuited from a similar analysis of the Capella Hotel’s main building on Sentosa, where ‘The Donald’ will confront ‘Little Rocket Man’? (Let’s not forget too quickly here, the vicious abuse these two have until just very recently been hurling very publicly at one another.)

Hong Kong’s Candle-like Hopewell Centre.

Considering the Imperialist façade of the Capella, just what might we expect? The apparent face of formality and authority along with the usual, meaningless conservative, consensus end-of-summit statements that leave us wondering just what the hell it was all about and moaning about yet another tax-funded junket for the politicians and their myriad hangers-on? For sure we can expect some imperialistic bombast and posturing from both sides. But might we not also anticipate something a little more telling? Examining the rear of the building is interesting with these thoughts in mind. 

Capella Hotel, Sentosa Island, Singapore

Imagery courtesy of Google Earth

The rear of the building is scrunched-in like some overwrought handheld exercise gadget, suggesting perhaps, we should keep an eye out for the angst-ridden handshakes the Don is becoming infamous for. Given the Donald’s proclivity for alpha male-ing the greetings thing, might we perchance see him simply give his usual gorilla grip to Little Rocket-man instead of his once promised ‘They will be met with fire and fury’ threats? Maybe instead, he will want to hold hands and pucker-up in an almost-but not-quite kiss with Kim Jong-un as he did with Macron, before leading him away too, to some secret inner sanctum?

Eeew, awkward Donald!

Trump leads a clearly bemused Macron away by the wrist.


Perhaps instead, Kim will come armed with a can of deodorant to protect himself from the foul whiff of Trump’s scandals – “He cannot deodorise the nasty smell from his dirty body woven with frauds and sexual abuses.” North Korea’s State-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun. Remember here the wider Russian scandals and the claims of peed-on wet bed sheets in a prostitute-filled Moscow hotel? You can bet your cotton socks Little Rocket-man sure hasn’t! Maybe it’ll all work out just fine and instead we’ll see images of the two fondly kissing, holding hands and dusting-off the imaginary dandruff from each other’s collars? Some suggest that the loop of the building indicates an incessant, unbreakable round and round the merry-go-round; a here we go again folks, set of talks between the two, with no outcome or solution possible. Or will we instead perhaps, find lurking in the imagery, treacherously hidden away sharp blades of modern curve-handled box cutters as shown below? Might that signify that one or either party has enough dirt on the other to slash them in the back?

Modern box cutters with rounded handles and hidden blades just like those discernible to the willing eye examining the rear view of the Capella Hotel?

Can hidden blades be perceived in the shape of the Capella? Will treachery prevail?

Imagery courtesy of Google Earth

Whatever the outcome of June 12th’s summit, one thing is for sure, Singapore and the feng shui of the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island are bound to figure large in the minds of those of us with an interest in the subject and be argued and debated over for some time to come.

Oh, and by the way, in one last, anachronistic twist of imperialist irony, it is the Ghurkhas, those doughty little Nepali men who have kept the citizens of the British Empire, now the British Commonwealth, safe for over 200 years[1], who will be taking care of security for The Don and Little Rocket man, two of the most abjured leaders of their times. And all this, in paternalistic, repressive yet apparently democratic Singapore. Now that, really is imperialism for you!

1st Gurkha Rifles circa 1857 on full imperial service.

Imagery from Wikipedia Common.

 The Gurkhas were first incorporated into the British Indian Army in 1815; the year Napoleon Bonaparte lost the Battle of Waterloo to the Duke of Wellington and was sent into exile on the island of Helena where he died in May of 1821. It was also in the January of 1815 that the British and the Americans last fought face to face in the Battle of New Orleans. Both nations continue even today, to pursue their separate imperialist ambitions.