Well-known fortune teller takes charge of exclusive housing estate for the rich and famous - Former police chief blocks promotion of officer who once investigated him - Bitter Thailand-Cambodia border dispute teaches army chief Prayuth a very valuable lesson
Newspaper section: News
Warin Buawiratlert must have foreseen his own future in the lucrative property business.
The Chiang Mai-based seer, made famous by making cosmic predictions for the movers and shakers of the country, has chosen a second career outside his familiar territory.
He has been named chief executive of a company building an exclusive housing estate in Chiang Mai for a group of very select clients.
The project sits on 60 rai of prime land purchased from the Bangkok Bank and is adjacent to the Bank of Thailand's northern office on Chottana Road.
The estate promises to be fully self-contained with a clubhouse and a shopping centre. A source said 36 plots on the estate have been snapped up by the rich and famous, while mansions priced at 30-40 million baht each are being built on the land.
Prospective tenants include high-flying business leaders, senior civil servants and top-ranking military and police officers.
Mr Warin hand-picked the prospective buyers, who are mostly people with whom he gained close connections through his fortune-telling service.
As the estate takes shape, each step of construction is accompanied by a luck-seeking rite performed by Mr Warin.
The source said the project was financed by a joint venture whose controlling stakes are believed to belong to one of Thailand's major conglomerates.
Mr Warin shot to fame after his name was associated as the ''reader of the fates'' with the engineers of the Sept 19, 2006, coup. Among his prominent clients was coup leader Sonthi Boonyaratkalin.
With his closeness to the coup makers, he has gone by his new alias of Hone Kor Mor Chor, or Seer of the Council for
dhNational Security (CNS). The CNS is the group that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power.
Appointments to see Mr Warin are said to have a backlog of many months.
He is sometimes reported to arrange merit-seeking rites for influential top brass to shore up their waning fortunes. His high-powered clients include former CNS strongman Chalit Phukpasuk, who is also the former air force chief, Election Com mission member Sodsri Satayatham and former police chief Pol Gen Sereepisut Taemeeyaves.
Mr Warin has not been faultless in his predictions, although that has done nothing to dent public fascination in his
dhextraordinary ability, according to the source.
Apart from his new-found career in property, Mr Warin has authored a pocket book titled Perd Nimitr III: Rueng Lao Chabab Archan Warin (Insight Into the Vision III: A Story Foretold by Archan Warin).
The book has stirred tremendous
dhexcitement among readers as it fathoms Mr Warin's new depth in his vision of army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha as the emerging defender of the throne and the nation.
The subject matter is thought to hold implications for the highly unpredictable nature of the country's politics.
Long memory, short promotion
Bitter feelings stemming from a dispute with another senior police officer may have cut short Pol Maj Gen Sriwara Rangsipramanakul's rapid promotion to chief of Provincial Police Region 1.
The former deputy Central Investigation Bureau chief took the job as PPR 1 office head after winning strong political support.
However, he had served only a few days in the job when a complaint was filed against him, resulting in his promotion to the PPR office being put on hold pending an inquiry.
The complaint was signed by former police chief Pol Gen Sereepisut Taemeeyaves, who insisted Pol Maj Gen Sriwara was unqualified to be commissioner.
The police major-general did not
dhpossess the seniority he claimed he had to land the PPR chief post, the complaint said.
Pol Maj Gen Sriwara passed the screening by the Police Commission, which subsequently endorsed his promotion to the PPR. The endorsement was made in large part because of the account of Pol Maj Gen Sriwara's seniority based on the number of years he has been in the police service.
The service years, in Pol Maj Gen
dhSriwara's case, were boosted by his
dhassignment to a station in the insurgent-infiltrated far South.
Regulations give those dispatched to troubled areas or conflict zones more service years than they actually serve, allowing some officers to increase their seniority and rise rapidly through the ranks.
The complaint alleged that during the time that Pol Maj Gen Sriwara was supposed to have been stationed in the far South, he was also enrolled in a course offered by the National Defence College.
Prayuth: Ordered construction
He may not have been working full time in the far South as he was supposed to have done.
If that was the case, he should not have enjoyed the privilege of earning the extra service years associated with the far South posting, the complaint said.
Pol Maj Gen Sriwara is on poor terms with Pol Gen Sereepisut after he led a police investigation into the former police chief's resort home in Kanchanaburi.
Pol Gen Sereepisut was accused of
dhencroaching on protected forests and polluting a waterway for construction of the 100-rai Phu Prai Tarn Nam resort in Kanchanaburi's Thong Pha Phum district.
The project led to illegal tree-cutting and left a canal dirty with rocks and other construction debris, according to the charges.
Pol Maj Gen Sriwara climbed fast through the ranks. He was deputy chief of the CIB for a year before he was promoted to the PPR 1 bureau.
Few officers go from deputy to full commissioner in the space of only a year.
Pol Maj Gen Sriwara has secured steady support from the government after he played an active role in the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation set up to quell last year's political unrest.
A source said if the Democrat Party remains in power for a few more months, Pol Maj Gen Sriwara could clear the complaint hurdle and resume his stint as chief of the PPR 1 bureau.
Its work will be vital in preparations for this year's general elections.
All's fair inlove and war
Soldiers at the border have learned there are times when their gentlemanly ways will not win the day.
Playing hardball may be necessary when either party in a dispute resorts to all ways imaginable to get what it wants.
The clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops last month in Si Sa Ket highlighted the critically precarious state of the border situation between the two countries.
The tension was brought to the boil after Cambodia built two roads through the disputed area with Thailand near the ancient Preah Vihear temple early this year.
One road leads to the Hindu temple and the other to the old patrol base where Thai soldiers used to be stationed close to the Keo Sikha Kiri Savara pagoda built by Cambodia.
The building of the roads was a blatant breach of the memorandum of under standing (MoU) banning any physical construction in the disputed area.
Honouring the agreement, Thai troops withdrew from the outpost near the
dhpagoda. However, Cambodian soldiers did not follow suit and retained a military presence there.
After a briefing about the security
dhdevelopment, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha gave the Suranaree Task Force the go-ahead to pave a road in the disputed land too.
The road was intended to be a supply route for troops in case the border confrontation degenerated into skirmishes, which it later did.
The soldiers responsible for the road construction that began on Jan 27 were a 40-strong team comprising engineers, infantry troops and those from a security protection unit.
The Cambodian army kept watch on the road being paved while hurrying the construction of its own roads.
The 2-kilometre road went from Pha Mor I Dang cliff to a spot near the Preah Vihear temple. As construction was in progress, Cambodian troops launched heavy shelling targeting the tractors used to build the road on Feb 4. The firing of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles continued for three hours. The military offensive then carried on sporadically over the course of the next three days.
Over to the top-level security meeting, Gen Prayuth admitted it was his fault that he had ordered the road construction. He said he did not anticipate that Cambodian troops would open fire without prior warning or protest, according to an army source.
Security officials have pointed out that Cambodia has consistently ignored the MoU by building roads and refusing to stop the work despite formal protests from Thailand. When Thailand paved its road, Cambodia began its assault.
After the clashes, the Cambodian troops moved in and occupied the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area. When Thai soldiers tried to enter the area, the Cambodian troops fired upon them.
Gen Prayuth said the government has ordered Thai troops to maintain their positions, guard the border and not attack Cambodia. But some observers feel the Thai soldiers should not sit back and let Cambodia establish a military presence in the disputed area. They should also gain access to the area to assert Thailand's territorial claims.