ce399 | research archive (esoterica)

Black Magic Politics (Bangkok Post 16/3/09)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 08/06/2010

It appeared absurd to many: An occult ceremony to put a curse on the political foes of Thaksin Shinawatra and free him of his past karma as a prince warrior in ancient times who had much blood on his hands.

Not to Bangkok Post military reporter Wassana Nanuam, however. “That ritual only confirmed that the black magic war between Mr Thaksin and his enemies is still in full swing,” she said.

The ritual took place last month in Chiang Mai at Wat Umong, where a trance medium told the red-clad crowd presided over by Gen Chaisit Shinawatra – Thaksin’s cousin and former supreme commander of the armed forces – that the fugitive politician was in a past life a ruling prince warrior in an unknown northern principality under the names of Jao Moon Muang and Jao Sin, who killed and burglarised in warfare with Burma.

As a symbolic return of past looting, chunks of banknotes passed hands during the rituals to pacify the spirits of his past-life enemies. Meanwhile, the names of his foes were written down on paper and burned to ashes to put a curse of death and destruction on them.

Supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra gathered at the King Taksin Monument.

This rite is just the latest in a series of black magic wars waged by both parties, said Wassana, who penned bestseller Lab Luang Prang Park Pisadarn: Saiyasart Patiwat Awitchatipatai (Secret, Deception, Camouflage, Special Edition: Black Magic behind the Coups and a Political System Ruled by Ignorance), which exposes deep superstition by rival parties in the current political conflicts and their heavy uses of black magic to topple the other side from power.

Prior to her book, talks about the black magic war between the pro- and anti-Thaksin camps were often dismissed as sheer nonsense. Thanks to Wassana’s authority in military reporting and inside information from the generals and their fortune-teller Warin Buawiratlert, her book attests yet again to the significant roles superstition and fortune-telling play in modern Thai politics.

Sondhi Limthongkul often captivated the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra crowd with black magic stories.

“Since the 2006 coup, I began to sense there might be something else beyond political struggles and a joint effort to end Mr Thaksin’s arrogance and hegemony, that there is a parallel war of black magic going on from both fronts,” she said.

Prior to the coup, there had been rumours about Thaksin being King Taksin the Great in a past life and about his alleged vengeful mission against the establishment. A warrior of Chinese descent, King Taksin saved Siam in wars with Burma after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. He founded a new capital at Thon Buri before the Chakri Dynasty – founded by his chief knights – took over, had him executed and then moved the capital to Bangkok.

Wassana paid little attention to that rumour at first, only to realise soon after that it is at the very core of Thaksin’s enemies’ hatred and fear for him.

Thaksin Shinawatra presided at the inauguration ceremony of the new Brahma statue at Erawan shrine after the original statue was destroyed.

True or false, that belief became a self-fulfilling prophesy when Thaksin, who first laughed at the rumour, began to sway with the positive confirmation from his fortune tellers, said Wassana, citing sources close to Thaksin. Given his own strong belief in superstition, he decided to play the same voodoo game to fight back when he knew he was being targeted by sorcery, she said.

“That is the beginning of their black magic battle. When one side knows about the other’s witchcraft efforts, it will stage its own rite to undo the curses and to attack the other side. So much so that it has now become an endless war of sorcery.”

Closely following the King Taksin rumour was Thaksin’s controversial ceremony at the Emerald Buddha Temple. Apart from being attacked for acting beyond his commoner’s status, he was also accused of removing a sacred object underneath the Emerald Buddha.

Fortune-teller Warin Buawiratlert performing a rite in a ceremony attended in full force by top generals and business executives.

Then came the attack that destroyed the Brahma statue at the Erawan Shrine, the inauguration ceremony of the new Brahma statue presided over by Thaksin himself, the removal of the linga and other statues at the Phnom Rung Sanctuary, the use of soiled sanitary napkins at the Royal Plaza to subdue black magic from enemies, the construction of a Buddha image with the face and family name of Thaksin in Chon Buri, where King Taksin’s army used to reside, the anti-Thaksin camp’s effort to destroy it, the national merit-making ceremony initiated by Thaksin’s close aide Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan and the military’s subsequent decision to call it off.

These seemingly unrelated incidents were actually linked to the belief that the ousted prime minister was King Taksin reborn for revenge, and to the rival parties’ attempts to attack and counter-attack each other through the black arts, said Wassana.

Occult ceremonies by the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra camp to put a curse on the ousted prime minister.

Her conclusion came from talks not only with the generals but also with many of Thaksin’s close aides. Also key to her understanding of the deeply-entrenched role of superstition in the military and the ruling elite is Warin Buawiratlert, a soft-spoken 52-year-old fortune-teller who commands respect from the whole cohort of 2006 coup-makers led by Gen Sonthi Boonyaratklin.

When his prediction for Gen Sonthi’s rise as an army chief, initially considered an impossibility, proved true, his advice on how to add one’s merit base and correct past sins to pave the way for military promotion or more political power has become much sought after by other aspiring generals.

In his case, Warin’s role is more than to provide the generals with the time when the stars best favour coup success. He told Gen Sonthi that he had seen a successful coup led by the general in his vision, and that he must “save the country”.

Despite Gen Sonthi’s seeming reluctance, he later called back to check if his fortune-teller still saw the same vision. The coup finally took place on September 19, 2006.

Interestingly, the 2006 coup was also linked to the King Taksin tale, although it is a completely different version from that held by the pro- and anti-Thaksin camps.

The fortune-teller insisted that the King Taksin reincarnation claim was false because the great warrior king was already a divine being whose spirit is now protecting the country, never to return to be reborn as a human being. What is true, however, he said, is that Gen Sonthi and himself were in a group of ten warriors who helped King Taksin escape the execution and flee to Surat Thani, where he devoted his life to monkhood and meditation. This version, though different from national history, resonates with folk legends, particularly the one held by the navy, which greatly reveres King Taksin.

As ritual master, media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, sprinkled holy water to exorcise evil spirits at Government House.

Apart from telling Gen Sonthi about the coup vision and his past life as King Taksin’s knight, he also told the general he had helped save the country before, and the 2006 coup was his chance to do it again.

Knowing that people in high places strongly believe that Thaksin is King Taksin reincarnated, Gen Sonthi was naturally confused. “If I was really King Taksin’s warrior, then I should side with him, no? So what side should I take now?”, Wassana quoted Gen Sonthi complaining about his dilemma.

Meanwhile, Thaksin was busy with his own reincarnation stories.

Apart from the story of the vengeful return of King Taksin through Thaksin, another reincarnation story has the ousted prime minister as a Burmese king in one of his past lives. It is believed it was his past sins committed against the Ayutthaya Kingdom that are behind his difficulties today.

“Right after his return to Thailand on February 28 last year, Mr Thaksin immediately went to Ayutthaya to perform ceremonies to cast away bad fortune,” said Wassana.

Another reincarnation story has Thaksin being Pra Jao Guena, the sixth king in the Mengrai Dynasty of the northern Lanna Kingdom who built the sacred Doi Suthep Temple. A book about the Doi Suthep legend featured the portrait of King Guena, a man with a square face with close similarities to Thaksin himself.

Calling themselves King Taksin’s warriors, pro-Thaksin Shinawatra militia during routine drills.

“These tales made him a target of heavy criticism from his opponents for allegedly trying to elevate his status to a royal one,” explained Wassana, adding that there were also rumours about a voodoo ritual on Doi Suthep not long before the 2006 coup.

Given the Burmese links in his reincarnation stories, it was not surprising that he would then seek advice from a famous Burmese soothsayer, E Thi, who is more popularly called ET. The embattled politician was reportedly advised to perform a sadoh kroh ceremony to cast away bad omens at the Shwedagon Stupa.

“If you are at Shwedagon, look for the statue of a king with a square face in front of the Tuesday Chedi,” advised Wassana.

The Burmese fortune-teller reportedly told Thaksin that he has two arch enemies whose names begin with S and P. She also told him he was destined to miserably part with home and family. To soften the blow, she advised him to spend an extended time overseas throughout the month of September in 2006. The coup took place when he was about to give his speech at the UN on September 19.

It was also believed that Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan acted upon ET’s advice on Thaksin’s behalf when she initiated a national merit-making ceremony with the military. The ceremony plan was heavily attacked by PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul for its unusual format and the time, which was particularly close to Thaksin’s birthday.

When criticised that it was employing black magic to use the top generals’ stars to boost Thaksin’s waning power, the military abruptly called it off.

As a reporter, Wassana said she looked for the signs and beliefs of the traditional elites through Sondhi Limthongkul’s messages, since he was not shy at all about dropping names and showing signs of establishment support.

“It was him who put together the jigsaw puzzle pieces for me about the black magic war,” she said. The media tycoon not only openly talked about the voodoo battle at protest sites, he has himself become the ritual master to exorcise perceived evil spirits from the enemies’ voodoo attacks.

Whether the sorcery is real or not, the people’s perceived reality is still a powerful force in the unfolding of political conflicts, she said.

Meanwhile, she continues to look for information and predictions from the fortune-tellers about current politics, but not because she believes in them. “The accuracy of the predictions are not that important. What is more important is that they reflect what the military is thinking and the direction of each general’s possible political moves,” she said.

According to Wassana, many fortune-tellers similarly advised Thaksin to stop his vengeful mission for a chance to come home. This idea was echoed by many generals. Their predictions also point to the same scenario: 2009 will be Thailand’s worst year in recent history while 2010 will see an important change in Thailand. According to Wassana, Thaksin’s fortune-teller predicted that the change will be in his favour.

The recent occult ceremony in Chiang Mai was just another attempt by Thaksin’s camp to strengthen that chance.

“Thai politics today is not only about political one-upmanship through money, power and guns. It is also about the battle of black magic,” said Wassana. “Under stress and great uncertainty, all sides resort to black magic for extra help to eradicate their enemies.

“Their ultimate goal is the same, however. It’s power. And there are no bounds to their struggles to fulfil their ambition.”

‘Lab Luang Prang Park Pisadarn: Saiyasart Patiwat Awitchatipatai’ by Wassana Nanuam, 303 pp, 230 baht. Published by Post Publishing. Available at all leading bookshops.



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