How fortune telling is used in Thailand’s politics

Credit: Todayonline

Fortune tellers told me to speak less to maintain a good political atmosphere. I will obey their advice,” Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recently told reporters before cutting short a press conference, referring to a reading from astrologers who urged the outspoken junta leader to speak less.The advice was aimed at cooling the political tone. The prediction about Mr Prayut’s remarks came after the junta leader invoked a number of strong measures dealing with opponents to maintain order in the country, but those harsh measures also drew criticism.

In addition, Mr Prayut himself sometimes blasted the media when asked questions that angered him, including about such topics as prolonging his power, the constitutional referendum, and anti-government movements.Those questions were among the issues that made Mr Prayut feel uneasy and say unpleasant comments that enflamed the political situation.

Although Mr Prayut’s comment did not prove that he truly believes in astrology, many incidents have shown that astrology and Thai politics are undoubtedly connected. A number of people, from ordinary people to the elites, have sought guidance from fortune tellers who provide predictions with various mystic methods.

Some astrologers in Thailand tell fortunes with birthdates, while many of them use meditation to connect with mystics who claim to be able to read the future.

A local politician in north-eastern Thailand said he likes hearing advice from fortune tellers mainly out of the excitement of seeing if the situation predicted really comes about.“Some predictions did happen but some did not. There is no explanation for astrology in my opinion but in general Thai people do not disparage any prediction,” he said.

In Thailand, both personal and political predictions normally are made by astrologers at the end of the year as people want to know what is going to happen in the following year. Uncertainty or political deadlock also causes some groups, politicians in particular, to resort to soothsayers.

Mrs Nattaya Chetchotiros, 57, a veteran political journalist who also has astrology skills, said astrology is part of Thai people’s daily life since antiquity due to historical evidence that referred to astrologers who predicted the fortunes of the monarch, elites and bureaucrats, especially when they led troops in war or times of transition.From the past until now, astrology has been relied on by various groups of Thai society, politicians in particular, according to Mrs Nattaya, who has worked as a political journalist for more than 30 years.“All Thai politicians do want to know if they will be elected and definitely a large number of them consult fortune tellers,” she said.One such example is ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now living in self-imposed exile abroad. Mrs Nattaya said that while in office, Mr Thaksin consulted with several astrologers before he made decisions on political moves, aside from a number of religious rites conducted at Government House and other places.

“Thaksin went to Myanmar asking advice from the famous fortune teller E Thi when he was in power and after he was deposed,” said Mrs Nattaya, adding Ms E Thi predicted Mr Thaksin would face political disaster.

Ms E Thi is a well-known fortune teller in Myanmar who has made predictions for customers including politicians and businessmen both in Myanmar and regional countries. Many of those who met Ms E Thi said her predictions were right.

Among famous astrologers, a well-known fortune teller from Chiang Mai, Mr Warin Buawiratlert, 59, told Kyodo News that he predicted Mr Prayut will stay in power for at least three more years. Mr Warin said that his prediction was made with meditation that would connect him with his master who helps him see future scenes.

The famous astrologer once predicted that the next prime minister’s name would start with the letter “P,” and his prediction was criticised when Ms Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister.“I predicted what I saw, although Yingluck won the election and became the government leader, she could not stay long because the prime minister must be P (Prayut),” Mr Warin noted.Following the next election expected next year, Mr Warin predicted all groups will join hands to work for the country under the national government, which will be set up to run the country and carry out reforms.

This current government will be joined by major political parties, including rival parties.

Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is among famous politicians whose fortune was picked by fortune tellers. Mr Abhisit told Kyodo News that he could not avoid fortune-telling since he is a public figure but he does not rely on the predictions.

“I am not a person who relies on astrology but many fortune tellers predicted my future in which I did not offend. I can listen to all predictions,” he said.

“Sometimes, the prediction did not come to pass but sometimes it did, such as, the incident in which I broke my arm from a fall. A fortune teller warned me several months before and I really broke my arm,” Mr Abhisit added.

Although Mr Abhisit regards the predictions as suggestions for careful living, he did not use them as the keys in policy implementation.“Using fortune telling to make decisions on the party or government policy is not my way,” he said and refused to comment about the prophecy by Myanmar’s E Thi who indicated he will return to be prime minister in the near future.Thailand is currently under military rule and several fortune tellers predicted major political changes next year. The changes include the general election, political chaos, reforms and also a bright political future, in which all sides turn to work for the sake of the nation.

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