World Bulletin / News Desk
Thailand’s junta chief and prime minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has earned derision from his critics after accusing his political enemies of using black magic against him -- a practice in which many Thais, including top military chiefs and politicians, strongly believe.
"That is just stupidity and delusion," Thai historian Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an associate professor at Kyoto University known for his criticism of the military regime, posted on Facebook on Friday after Chan-ocha referred publicly to the alleged practice of witchcraft against him.
"If [my enemies] resort to perform black magic rituals against me, please bring it on," Chan-ocha said during a speech Thursday to the heads of the screening committees responsible for pre-selecting members of a national reform council, which will be in charge of overhauling the country’s political system before elections at the end of 2015.
"Today, I have a sore throat and a pain in the neck. I have been told that there are some people putting curses on me. I had so much lustral water poured over my head that I shivered all over. I am going to catch cold now," he told the startled assembly.
The ritual of having lustral water poured over one’s head is believed to ward off the effects of black magic.
The belief in witchcraft and black magic is deeply rooted among Thai Buddhists -- including top leaders. Ministers and generals often form queues at some temples to consult monks famous for their ability to predict the future or to protect people from the ill effects of curses.
Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a political enemy of Chan-ocha who mostly lives in exile since he was overthrown in a 2006 coup, made occasional trips to neighboring Myanmar during his premiership to consult a famous astrologer nicknamed E.T.
Most of the time, however, politicians and military chiefs keep silent about their beliefs in the supernatural -- hesitant over the potential impact on their profiles vis-à-vis the international community. It is unheard of for a Thai premier to mention his beliefs on black magic in a public speech.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha was elected prime minister August 21 by a 200-member National Legislative Assembly handpicked by the junta and dominated by military officers.
Last month, he appointed a 32-member government composed of active and retired military officers and conservative bureaucrats. Except for the finance ministry, all key portfolios are controlled by the military -- including the foreign affairs, education and justice ministries.
The junta has promised "fully democratic elections" in October 2015 after the endorsement of a permanent constitution, which will not be submitted to a popular referendum.
Thailand's political crisis began in November when then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faced a wave of opposition protests after her government pushed through an amnesty that would have lifted the 2008 corruption conviction against her elder brother Thaksin, a divisive figure and ex-premier deposed in a 2006 coup.
Confronted by massive demonstrations, the government withdrew the bill, but the opposition alleged corruption by the government and Shinawatra family.
Yingluck dissolved the parliament December 9 and called February 2 elections, which were disrupted by the People Democratic Reform Committee, who want an unelected "people's council" to run Thailand until the political system is reformed.
She was then herself removed by the Constitutional Court on May 7 in relation to the transfer of a high-ranking civil servant in 2011. The May 22 coup removed the remaining ministers and dissolved the Senate, the only standing legislative assembly.Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2014, 12:39