BANGKOK — Prison inmates will soon receive vocational training in the art of foreseeing the future, justice minister Somsak Thepsuthin said Monday.
Somsak said astrology classes will be offered to convicts to provide them with an opportunity to pursue a “low-investment career option” after they are released, though some fortune tellers cast doubt on how effective the program would be.
“I used to think that selling pork skewers needed the least investment, but astrologers only need a couple of decks of cards, costing maybe about 500 baht, and they have a career,” Somsak said.
The minister also said the craft would encourage convicts to meditate and read books on the subject, while the knowledge they learned would ensure they have a steady job and save them from recidivism.
“I’ve talked to a prisoner who went to jail eight or nine times because he didn’t know what else to do,” Somsak said. “Jail was easier for him since at least he would have food to eat.”
Several practitioners of astrology criticized the minister’s belief that the career does not require any investment, however.
Thai Political Tarot, which is known for making tarot cards that explain the political situation, wrote Tuesday, “One deck of cards isn’t cheap. You also need to Google about the card’s meaning, so you add internet fees to that.”
“Astrologers must also collect experience in analyzing the meanings, and practice psychology and rhetoric,” the page admin wrote.
Writer Tomorn Sookprecha also wrote in a post Tuesday that a serious job in astrology needs a lot of experience in order to be adept.
“Astrologers require a lot of tacit knowledge and personal investment,” Tomorn wrote. “This way of thinking is like what a tax department official said to me, that writers do not need any investment. They told me that writers are just like people you hire to paint your house, who don’t even need to buy their own paint.”
Existing vocational training includes lessons in English, Chinese, household accounting, raising dogs, growing durian, raising fighting cocks, and raising cows for meat, according to Department of Corrections director-general Ayuth Sintoppant.
In 2021, Ayuth said that the department would try to solve the problem of overcrowded jails and allow some calls to visitors via the Line application.