From A Banker To A Modern Feng Shui Master

The Straits Times Interactive,
Singapore January 2003

Malaysian woman takes the ancient art out from back alleys and into the world of the Internet
By Leslie Lau

SHE was once the chief executive of Dao Heng Bank in Hongkong. Ms Too has been criticised by many masters for revealing the secrets of feng shui.

But that did not prepare Penang-born Lillian Too, 57, from becoming the poster child for the transformation of the ancient art of feng shui.

From incense-filled consultation rooms and back alleys of Chinatowns, she has taken feng shui to the Internet and taught the secrets of the art to lawyers, engineers, housewives and businessmen willing to fork out RM5,000 (S$2,300) to RM6,000 each for her seminars.

But she is also a celebrity in the business, having written more than 50 books, in English, that have been translated into various languages, about feng shui.

'Yes I make a fabulous living out of this and I am proud of it. Now my daughter is doing this as well,' she told The Sunday Times. 'I'm criticised by many masters for revealing the secrets but I say knowledge does not belong to you.'

Besides, she adds, the more she shares, through her books and on her websites, the more successful she has become.

Her critics do not share her views though.

'Many people in the world are unhappy with their lives whether it is in business or in their love lives,' said one local Malaysian feng shui master.

'Lillian Too tells them that they can basically change their lives by going to a bookshop and buying one of her books.'

Whether Ms Too's books are the genuine article is a moot point. But the fact is they sell by the millions, or else major publishing houses like Harper Collins and Random House would not be producing her books.

'I write from my heart. I do not write to impress and I do not do it from an arrogant point of view,' she says.

Feng shui, she says, is not so much about being wealthy as it is about harmony and happiness and 'feel good' energy.

Of course, she points out 'if you are poor you are unlikely to be happy', but 'you do not have to be rich to be happy'.

Ms Too says she has always been interested in feng shui even though she was educated in English and does not read Chinese.

Her tenure in Hongkong gave her the opportunity to meet many masters of the art in China, providing her the initial entry into the world of feng shui.

In the mid-90s she published her first book, The Complete Illustrated Guide To Feng Shui, and when it made the summer bestseller list at Barnes and Noble shops in the United States she realised there was a sizeable market for feng shui.

But perhaps her biggest achievement is using her Harvard MBA training to transform the art into a modern business enterprise.

Aside from the website, called the World of Feng Shui, the volumes of books and the seminars, there are also the shops, also known as the World of Feng Shui.

Besides Kuala Lumpur, there are franchised outlets in Penang, Indonesia, Brunei and India, with plans for outlets in Australia and Las Vegas.

Says Ms Too of her success: 'I am basically a writer. There are a lot of quacks out there. So I play an important role in just simplifying very difficult things.'
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