July 9, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The craziness about Jatukham amulets is literally taking new heights as the RTAF is taking some much-sought-after amulets on routine flights on F-16 fighters in the hope of boosting their supernatural powers and market value.
RTAF F-16A block 15 #10306 from 103 sqn is flying alongside an F-5A above the Thai country side.
Jatukham Rammathep is the name of an unusually popular amulet sold by some Buddhist temples in Thailand
. The amulet is named for two princes of the Krung Srivijaya kingdom of southern Thailand, and is believed to provide protection and good fortune to the bearer.
Air Chief Marshal Paisal Sitabutr, the Air Force's deputy commander, could not explain the logic behind his reasoning but maintained the F-16's and F-5's supersonic speed would quicken one's good fortune, protection and prosperity. The unprecedented height would make the amulets stand out above the rest, literally and figuratively.
The fact that such a "dignified" institution as the Air Force was behind the making of this series of amulets would boost its reputation and sales, according to Paiasl. To mix business with amulets and the military seems so natural now in Thailand...
On Monday, the Air Force organised incantation rites for its amulets in Prachuab Khiri Khan. Paisal said the Air Force decided to join the Jatukham Rammathep fever because it wanted to collect huge sums of money for renovation of Wat Mahathat in Bangkok and the twin pagodas, Phra Mahathat Napha Methanidon and Phra Mahathat Naphaphon Phumisiri, on Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai.
The renovation projects costing about Bt100 million are to commemorate the 80th birthday of His Majesty the King in December, he said.
Paisal saw nothing wrong in the Air Force generating money by producing amulets and using the fighter jets in the incantation.
"Nowadays, what else can be done to generate huge money better than Jatukham?" he said. "We have fighters that fly regularly. We just asked the pilots to take the materials [to produce the amulets] with them. We did not hold any special flights for this thing," he said.
Since last year, Jatukham fever has spread throughout the country, grabbing the attention of celebrities, politicians and ordinary people.
The Kasikorn Research Centre estimated that from late last year more than Bt20 billion had been generated by the Jatukham craze. The Revenue Department was considering whether to tax enterprises related to the soaring sales of Jatukham items.