HORSE POWER: The equine symbol of the Chinese zodiac represents prosperity, unless one is really adamant about stirring up trouble
A MYSTICAL equine-like fellow, who called himself Ma Chai, visited me in my dream with the Year of the Horse just a trot away.
Ma Chai, whose name in Chinese means "son of the horse", said: "Your country is very special to me because its name is the same as mine."
Indeed, the "Ma" in Malaysia uses the same Chinese character for horse. In fact, Malaysia is known as "Big Horse" or "Tai Ma" in the Chinese-speaking world.
"I can see Malaysia galloping down the road to prosperity if it takes the right course," said Ma Chai.
That coming from Ma Chai, is as good as coming from the horse's mouth as he is often considered as a bringer of good fortune.
The last time Ma Chai dropped in on Malaysia, it was 12 years ago. At that time, he divined prosperity for the country and sure enough, the Malaysian economy thrived in 2002, amid a challenging external environment. For that year, gross domestic product expanded by 4.2 per cent compared with 0.4 per cent in 2001.
But Ma Chai sees a tough road ahead for the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), which is also known as "Ma Hwa" or "horse Chinese", after a divisive three-horse presidential race last month.
"MCA will have to work like a horse to get going again. But like a thoroughbred, it has the political pedigree to work with its Barisan Nasional partners to provide peace, prosperity and stability for Malaysians," he said.
I really wish that the Year of the Horse portends good fortune for Malaysia. The Year of the Snake (2013), with all its troubles, has really been venomous and we will all be happy to see it slither away.
The Horse is a noble creature and its character stands for personal strength, wisdom and determination. Of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, only the horse and dragon are used by the Chinese as family names.
Not surprisingly, paintings or pictures of horses often adorn the homes and offices of the Chinese community, especially in the business sector.
Before disappearing, Ma Chai said: "Ma-laysia boleh" and offered Malaysians some advice for the coming Year of the Horse:
MALAYSIANS must ride together like a great herd on the road of unity, which is to take the middle road, and not stray into the course of prejudice or bigotry;
THEY must rein in mistrust and scepticism while giving faith and hope a chance;
HOLD your horses and don't easily get spooked or be emotional. Listen to the voice of reason and show tolerance and empathy over issues affecting fellow Malaysians;
DON'T back the wrong horse if you have to choose sides. Think carefully;
ADD more horsepower to the workplace and help boost the country's economy by working hard;
THINK a bit longer or more; don't change horses in mid-stream;
USE common sense in your daily life. And this should lead to enough horse sense in our society to make life less complicated;
DON'T lepak and don't horse around too much in the workplace;
BE efficient and decisive. Don't wait till the horse has bolted to lock the stable door;
IF you are celebrating Chinese New Year, invite Malaysians of all races, including Mamat, Ma Chai and Macha to your open house; and,
IF you are a Manchester United fan, don't put too much hope on the football team this year. Manchester has been a lame horse but if you call the team Ma-chester, maybe it still has some hope.
A Happy and Horse-porous Chinese New Year to you all out there.Chan Wai Kong | email@example.com NST Opinion Columnist 29/01/2014