From Manager Online a fascinating report from Chiang Mai. On 17 July about 50 members of the “Chiang Mai Hak Chaat” (Chiang Mai love the nation) group assembled near the Suan Prung gate of Chiang Mai city to curse the enemies of Thaksin. Under the direction of a spirit doctor (mor phi) they performed a ritual to drive anti-Thaksin figurehead (and owner of Manager Online) Sondhi Limthongkul out of the country. One of the members of the group, wearing a mask with Sondhi’s face, lay on the ground to represent his body. Sondhi’s soul was then called and placed in a pot, that was submerged in the canal that runs around the Chiang Mai city wall. Five floating lamps were also released to reinforce the curse! The choice of Suan Prung gate was no accident. The news report states that Suan Prung gate is traditionally used for bodies passing out of the city prior to cremation – it is a “spirit gate”. (According to Gehan Wijeyewardene in Place and Emotion in Northern Thai Ritual Behaviour (p. 125) the southwestern city gate is named Suan Prung “after the method of execution (disembowelling) which was carried out at this place. The southwest is the most inauspicious of directions.” A perfect place for a curse!)

The Manger Online article concludes by referring to reports that someone with connections to Thai Rak Thai/Thaksin lay behind the ritual. This is hardly a surprising conclusion. But it does reflect the persistently elitist view promoted by Bangkok’s democracy-lite advocates that people in the provinces simply cannot think, or act, for themselves!