News / Asia

Thai Politics Challenges Fortune-Tellers

Thai Politics Challenges Fortune-Tellersi
X
June 19, 2014 6:04 AM
In Thailand, fortune-tellers have long been sought out for spiritual advice and guidance. But since last month’s military takeover of the country, even spiritual ceremonies can take on political overtones. Steve Sandford reports.
In Thailand, fortune-tellers have long been sought out for spiritual advice and guidance. But since last month’s military takeover of the country, even spiritual ceremonies can take on political overtones.
 
Given the uncertainty following the May 22 coup, many are seeking guidance from spiritualists and fortune tellers.
 
Popular Thai soothsayer Varin Buaviratlert says he got his calling early in life.
 
"When I was 9 years old, my spirit travelled outside my body and I could see myself through a vision," he said. "Since then, I have studied the supernatural."
 
More than 40 years later, the clairvoyant offers his predictions to Thailand’s affluent, including the country’s top brass.
 
Varin performed a special "life-prolonging" ceremony for the victorious generals of a 2006 military coup. Today, the soothsayer claims he has visions of the new military ruler, Army General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has granted himself all executive and legislative power.
 
"In a vision, I saw General Prayuth was a great soldier for King Narasuan and I was involved with him, too," Varin said. "I saw the vision from the past life when we fought together and now we are born again in this life to save the country."
 
A clouded future

But in the northern voting strongholds of ousted caretaker government leader Yingluck Shinawatra, some see little to be happy about.

A deeply flawed rice-subsidy program recently was scrapped by the military rulers, leaving growers worried that profits will go elsewhere.
 
"In the past year, the rice scheme benefited the farmers," said one of them, Kham Lalirm. "If there is no pledging project, the middleman will push the price lower and only they will keep the money in their pockets."
 
The army announced Wednesday that it had developed an alternate plan to help rice growers, Reuters reported. Otherwise, the government remains tight-lipped about its future policies.

It has ordered village chiefs to report any suspicious activities, especially those by the Red Shirts – largely rural supporters of Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra. Thailand’s exiled former prime minister, unseated in the 2006 coup, championed populist causes such as health care and food subsidies.

The Red Shirts politically oppose the largely urban, affluent Yellow Shirts, who support traditional structures including the monarchy and military.    
 
The two colors have taken on increased significance since the most recent coup.  
 
Phor Tamkham, a spiritualist, said that when he "put up a red flag to mark where our spirit ceremony was,  the soldiers came to our festival, asking us if we were involved with Red Shirt political activists."
 
For now, the military has managed to silence the critics.
 
But many Thai academics predict the country could unravel rapidly if voices from the rural majority are ignored.
 
They just aren’t allowed to say it publicly.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Khun Hunter from: VA
June 19, 2014 9:48 PM
The red shirt do not appose the yellow shirts (PDRC). The Yellow shirts/Bangkok elite/PDRC oppose the Red Shirts/Shinawatras. The Red Shirts oppose the continuous nullification of the Constitutionally elected Government through the use of the Military, the appointed Thai Senate and the corrupt appointment of Judges by the Thai Senate. The judges then choose to selectively prosecute Red Shirts but allow the Yellow shirts to run free.


by: Ajahn from: Thailand
June 19, 2014 9:52 AM
Always the idea that 'The Red Shirts politically oppose the largely urban, affluent Yellow Shirts, who support traditional structures including the monarchy and military. Anybody looking at a map of the Thai political divide, will see that the complete South of the country opposes the Thaksin regime. All of them. Too call the south of the country more affluent then the North or North-East is also wrong. There are many poor people in Southern Thailand, but none of them suppports the Pheua Thai or the Red Shirts. The political divide in Thailand is NOT based on rich against poor.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid