PITSANULOK — A series of purges in Thai police force have driven many officers to seek guidance from Pol.Col. Samart Chuthet, a self-styled "police astrologist" operating out of Pitsanulok province.
Pol.Col. Samart, an active officer at Mueang Pitsanulok Police Station, said police have traveled from across the country to seek his fortunetelling services.
Unlike astrological readings for the general populace, Pol.Col. Samart's horoscopes focus specifically on the potential rise and fall of careers in the police force.
Pol.Col. Samart consults astrological charts in his office in Pitsanulok province.
"Police officers of all ranks have been asking me to check their fortunes," Pol.Col. Samart explained. "Especially about promotions and transfers. Most of them ask me about that, whether they will be promoted. So I take a look at their fortunes, and advise them based on their luck, by relying on the principles of horoscopes."
He added, "Some of them are successful, but some of them – their luck is not so good at the moment. They have to wait."
Thailand's police force has seen a series of reshuffles since the military coup on 22 May 2014, after which scores of officers considered allied to the former government were transferred.
Another purge followed last November when several of Thailand's top law enforcers were arrested for allegedly operating a criminal network accused of money laundering, oil smuggling, and a series of other offenses.
The police chief appointed by the coupmakers, Pol.Gen. Somyot Phumphanmuang, also recently announced a new wave of transfers and appointments involving nearly 2,000 officers, set to be effective from 15 January.
Although Pol.Gen. Somyot said on 6 January that the changes are "based on merit" and not biased in any way, many suspect the mass transfer to be politically-motivated.
The reshuffling of two key agencies in Bangkok in particular – 73 positions at the Metropolitan Police Bureau and 130 at the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) – is being viewed by some as an attempt to curb the influence of a "power clique" allied to the former government.
Looking to the stars
Pol.Col. Samart's colleagues at Mueang Pitsanulok Police Station confirmed to Khaosod that many police officers have been requesting readings from the soothsayer.
"All of them have confidence in this man's ability to see the future," one officer said.
Nevertheless, officers insist that they only consult Pol.Col. Samart during lunch breaks, to avoid taking time off from their duty.
Khaosod’s interview with police astrologist Pol.Col. Samart this morning was interrupted when a police lieutenant colonel from a nearby district entered the office to request a prediction of his career prospects.
The lieutenant colonel asked whether he would be promoted this year, and after consulting astrological diagrams, Pol.Col. Samart determined the answer to be no.
According to Pol.Col. Samart, the officer's luck is not great enough to attract attention from his supervisor. However, the lieutenant colonel, who asked not to be identified by name, can expect to be promoted by the year 2017, Pol.Col. Samart predicted.