BANGKOK — Government House officials were forced to perform a religious ceremony yesterday after construction staff allegedly encountered paranormal activity during their effort to renovate the building.
An army officer said he experienced smells of "ancient perfume" as he and other soldiers were moving furniture from Naree Samosorn Building inside the Government House compound yesterday morning.
"I was so scared that I had goosebumps," said the officer, who did not name himself. "Because I know that many people have been haunted at Naree building."
The operation was immediately halted and Government House officials later organised a ceremony to appease the spirits who are believed to reside in the building. The officials lit incense and "informed" the spirits that they merely wanted to renovate the compound so that the Government House would be more beautiful.
Army staff claim they have not encountered any spirits since.
The renovation of the Government House was ordered by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which ousted the former government from the compound in a coup d'etat on 22 May. The renovation will be restricted to minor decoration and repairing old buildings. The main structures will be left unchanged as the Government House is currently registered as a protected historic site by the Department of Fine Arts.
Media reports claim that the renovation comes with a price tag of more than 300 million baht. NCPO officials have disputed the figure but refused to unveil the exact cost of the project.
Many bureaucrats who work at the Government House are known to be deeply superstitious. Reporters stationed at the Government House have been told that many staff routinely witness ghosts in the building. Notable encounters include a red-clad ancient warrior, a royal steward, and a headless woman dressed in traditional costume.
Last year, a rumour spread among Government House officials that then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was about to face a serious political crisis after an unusual amount of mushrooms were spotted in the compound.
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