Thai PM slams fortune teller over downfall prediction

April 8, 2008

BANGKOK (AFP) -- Thailand's combative prime minister has lashed out at a famous fortune teller for predicting his new government's downfall in another military coup, local press reported.

Samak Sundaravej used his Sunday TV show to criticize Varin Buaviratlert, whose clients are rumored to include ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's wife, and the man who overthrew Thaksin, former army chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin.
Varin last week predicted that the coalition government led by Samak would collapse in the coming months, resulting in political chaos and possible bloodshed, the English-language Bangkok Post and Nation newspapers reported.
He also predicted that Thailand's new army chief General Anupong Paojinda would be the next prime minister, the papers said.
""This fortune teller has no shame about making a wrong prediction and I wonder what he is doing to the country by invoking my name and that of the army chief to insinuate another coup,"" the Nation quoted Samak as saying.
Close friends and aides of the elusive Varin claim the soothsayer never predicted a coup, but simply questioned the longevity of Samak's government, the Bangkok Post and Nation said.
Thailand has seen 18 coup attempts since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, with the last putsch in September 2006 ousting Thaksin from power.
Elections in December returned Thaksin's allies in the People Power Party to government, led by gruff right-winger Samak.
Samak said last month that he had been warned of a fresh coup plot against his government, but refused to say who was scheming against him.