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A Blue Ghost Who Haunts $4bn Airport
By: RSS/News FeedsHungZai Team

AS HEAD of security at the world’s newest airport, Squadron Leader Pannupong Nualpenyai faces an intimidating range of potential enemies.

As well as the problems of cost overruns, poor transport connections and the fallout from last week’s military coup, the managers of Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok have had to cope with hauntings, mysterious deaths and the demonic possession of members of their staff.

But the most stubborn problem of all is a frail old man with a blue face named Poo Ming. He is not an Islamic militant or an environmental activist. He is a ghost; an unquiet spirit who has become a regular visitor to Thailand’s new airport — a $4 billion (£2.1 billion) project which officially opens tomorrow and is built on a former cemetery.

“I believe in this phenomenon,” says Squadron Leader Pannupong, a former commando who heads a staff of 1,000 airport security personnel. “I have seen many ghosts in my life.” As it happens, so much has gone wrong at Suvarnabhumi that the supernatural visitors might be regarded as being among its lesser problems.

The need for a new airport was recognised in 1973 when 8,000 acres of land were purchased 15 miles (25km) east of Bangkok. But plans were suspended after a bloody student uprising against an earlier military government.

The plans were revived in 1996 — the year before the Asian economic crisis. Eventually the site, unpromisingly known as Cobra Swamp, was drained and after his landslide election victory in 2001 the recently deposed Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, adopted the scheme as a symbol of Thai pride and achievement. He renamed it Suvarnabhumi, meaning “Realm of Gold”.

On the scheduled day of its opening a year ago, Mr Thaksin watched as the first two planes took off. Unfortunately, no more followed as the airport was unready for passengers. Soon afterwards the hauntings began. Two airport workers died after wrapping their cars around lampposts. Some might have blamed this on the road, which encouraged reckless speed, but the airport workers felt there was more to it than that.

Strange footsteps were heard around the airport at night, as well as traditional music, with no apparent source. Squadron Leader Pannupong almost died when a woman in traditional dress walked in front of his car carrying a baby, then mysteriously disappeared. Then there were the sightings of the old man.

“It was late at night when I saw him,” says Pratheet Wanmuda, a guard. “He had an aura around his head and walked with a stick. I called out to him but then he was gone. I was so scared that I forgot to ask him for next week’s winning lottery numbers.”

For all its superficial modernity, Thailand is a country of enduring superstition and airport management knew better than to ignore such omens. Last Saturday 99 monks prayed at the climax of nine weeks of exorcism and rites.

In front of the airport hotel a young luggage operator staggered forward. He introduced himself as Poo Ming, a guardian of the land where a cemetery once existed.

“He was walking like an old man and spoke in an ancient,quavering voice,” recalled Pholprasit Tinakul, another guard. The orange-robed monks doused him with holy water, struck him over the head and the young man was returned to himself.

“Since then the atmosphere is back to normal and my staff are much calmer,” says Squadron Leader Pannupong. “I think that Poo Ming has gone now. If not, perhaps he will become our friend and protect us against those who threaten this place.”

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