Thaksin’s Former Wife Visits Burmese Astrologer

By The Irrawaddy 14 February 2014

RANGOON — The former wife of Thailand’s ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra paid a visit to one of Burma’s most famous astrologers during a recent trip to the country.

Earlier this month Potjaman Na Pombejra, who was reportedly visiting the country with Thaksin, went to see Rangoon-based astrologer San Zarni Bo to seek advice for her former husband’s smooth re-entry to Thailand and to ask about his business concessions in Burma.

The couple divorced in 2008 after more than three decades of marriage but remain close friends.

“The political situation is not good in their country, so they wanted to do some yadaya for internal peace and Thaksin’s return to the country,” a source close to the matter told The Irrawaddy on Friday. Yadaya is a form of magic practiced in Burma to ward off evil spirits and weaken one’s enemies. “She also asked about their oil-related business concessions in Burma’s Tanintharyi [Tenasserim] Division.”

The source said Thaksin and Potjaman stopped at Kaba Aye Pagoda (World Peace Pagoda) during their trip to promote peace in Thailand. The pagoda seemed to be a perfect place for the 66-year-old ex-prime minister to perform the yadaya numerological rituals, as the Sixth Buddhist Council was once held there.

Thaksin also visited Burma last April over the Buddhist New Year, meeting with the commander-in-chief of Burma’s armed forces, Gen Min Aung Hlaing.

The ex-prime minister holds property in Dawei, the southernmost town in Tenasserim Division, where a special economic zone is planned and the multimillion-dollar Dawei deep-sea port project is under construction.

His most recent visit to Burma was reported last week by the Bangkok Post newspaper, which said online photographs showed him at a temple taking part in a merit-making ceremony.

Others speculated that he was visiting to attend a supernatural ceremony in Mandalay to fight back against two leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, Suthep Thaugsuban and Luang Pu Buddha Issara, who have undertaken a campaign to unseat his sister, caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

But the Bangkok Post, quoted Somchai Wongsawat, a leader of the Pheu Thai Party, a pro-Thaksin party, as saying that Thaksin was only in the country to participate in a Buddhist merit-making ceremony.

A Kaba Aye Pagoda official said he was not aware of Thaksin’s presence at the pagoda because the ex-prime minister had not made an official visit.

“Probably, he slipped into the pagoda among other visitors, we don’t know,” Tun Win, a trustee member, told The Irrawaddy.

This is not the first time Thaksin has sought astrological advice from a soothsayer. According to an AFP report last year, he went to see another famous Burmese astrologer, ET, before he was ousted in a 2006 coup. At the time he was working in the telecommunications industry and wanted to ask about his prospects for power.

Since the coup, Thaksin has lived in exile except for a brief visit in 2008 to Thailand, where various criminal charges await him if he returns.