July 15, 2014 00:00 By Jeerapong Prasertpolkrung
Up to Bt300 million has been earmarked for the renovation of Government House to welcome in a new administration, as some buildings are in bad repair due to the long anti-government protest.
An official source said the move had nothing to do with the tradition of new governments making feng shui-related adjustments to boost success and longevity of their administration.
Acting PM’s Office secretary Panadda Diskul led a religious rite yesterday to worship the Govern-ment House’s sacred statue and guardian spirits at the premises.
The rite was aimed at dispelling bad luck and any inauspicious elements as a result of lengthy political rallies and to welcome auspicious deities in light of a new government assuming office.
Apart from the rite, the landscape of Government House will be adjusted and key buildings – namely Thai Khu Fa, Santi Maitri, Command and Nari Samosorn – will undergo renovations.
The Nari Samosorn building, which was previously used as a news centre, will be turned into a reception area for government guests. The news centre will be moved to Command building.
The work also includes dismantling a media room near the Thai Khu Fa building, where reporters have gathered, worked and rested for 35 years since the Kriangsak Chomanan government. Reporters will now be asked to work at the Command building instead.
The plan to turn the reporters’ room into a garden was criticised by veteran reporter Yuwadi “Je Yu” Thanyasiri, who said she could not accept that the reporters’ room “was in the way” and had to be demolished. Officials in charge of the renovation said they would seek reporters’ opinions before making a final decision.
The previous Pheu Thai and Democrat-led governments made changes to the complex according to recommendations by feng shui experts. History, however, shows that no matter how a new government tries to adjust the landscape to meet their feng shui beliefs, their ability to stay in power or leave office depends largely on their deeds.
The tradition of adjusting feng shui at Government House when a new government assumes power dates back a decade to the era of the Thaksin Shinawatra government. A native of Chiang Mai, the former PM replaced trees in the compound with northern plants and concrete walls with steel bars. He ordered the spirit house and the ancestral shrine to moved close to a wastewater treatment pond.
The Surayud Chulanont regime did not make major changes in 2007 to the compound – it just added auspicious trees to the garden.
Changes were made when Abhisit Vejjajiva took power in late 2008 after a months-long rally by the People’s Alliance for Democracy to oust the Thaksin-led government. Government House was damaged and rundown because the PAD protesters had camped inside for months.
Then in mid-2011, the Yingluck government relocated the spirit house and the ancestral shrine from the inglorious corner to a splendid site on the right of the Thai Ku Fa building.