When threatened with a public protest in front of his company’s headquarters, Yuzana chief U Htay Myint used an extraordinary defense—he paid a Thai feng shui master 4,000,000 kyat (US $5,000) per day to ward off looming ill-fortune.
U Htay Myint, who is also a Lower House MP for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, has faced pressure for confiscating land in war-torn Kachin State. To fend off his client’s critics, the mystic for hire repositioned a red light bulb on the reception-area ceiling to face outwards—“to repel destructive elements coming from outside,” according to an Intelligence source.
He also identified a jinx on the Yuzana logo and suggested an alternative. A pool at U Htay Myint’s Rangoon residence was deemed another source of peril. The 58-year-old tycoon, who hails from Myeik in Burma’s deep south but has Chinese ancestry, then reportedly made a day trip to Singapore for yadaya che—a ritual aimed at reversing bad luck or compensating for misdeeds.
In 2006, Yuzana seized more than 200,000 acres (80 hectares) of farmland near the world’s largest tiger reserve in Kachin State’s remote Hukawng Valley, forcing nearly half a million people off the land they have lived on for generations.
This story first appeared in the December 2012 print issue of The Irrawaddy magazine.