Anthropologist Charles Keyes has published a paper on “The Destruction of a Shrine to Brahma in Bangkok and the Fall of Thaksin Shinawatra: The Occult and the Thai Coup in Thailand of September 2006.” The paper can be downloaded from the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. Here is the abstract:
On the night of March 21st, 2006, a 27 year-old man, Thanakorn Pakdeepol, took a hammer and smashed the image of the Hindu deity Brahma – whom the Thai call Thao Maha Phrom – near the Erawan hotel in Bangkok. The destruction took place just before the political crisis centering on Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister, reached a climax with the subsequently-discredited election of 2 April 2006. Because the shrine had long been the most significant non-Buddhist shrine in Bangkok, its destruction immediately led both anti- and pro-Thaksin supporters to interpret the act as an omen. In this paper I use the story of the destruction of the Erawan shrine, which I believe can be seen as a watershed event in the crisis surrounding Thaksin. It is also part of the story of the role of the occult in Thaksin’s loss of power in the coup of 19 September 2006.