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Thai prime minister attempts to placate citizens with a song

Nicola Smith
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha likes to compose songs - REUTERS

Thailand’s prime minister has reportedly released a song in a bid to temper frustration over a suspected delay to the date of the general election, urging his citizens to hold on to hard-earned peace. 

The song ‘In Memory’ – the lyrics penned by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha – was released at a government exhibition on Thursday, reported Khaosod English. 

Lines include an appeal for patience and a reminder not to forget the division of the past as the nation is “nearly away from turbulence”, set to a mellow lounge-style tune sung by Sub-Lieutenant Pongsathorn Pojit. 

“In memory of the days we were in pain. When our harmony was destroyed. We were angry; our hearts were divided. Until we became one again, it wasn’t easy, wasn’t easy at all,” he sings. 

Earlier this week, several hundred pro-democracy protestors took to the streets of the Thai capital, Bangkok, to demonstrate against further government foot-dragging over the Thai general election. 

Thailand was expected to hold a much-delayed poll on February 24 after the ruling junta lifted the ban on political activity it imposed after taking power in a coup in 2014. 

Thai pro-democracy demonstrators want an election in February Credit: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

But the election, which many hope will restore democracy in Southeast Asia’s second biggest economy, may now be held at a later date because of the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn on May 4. 

Critics of the military government fear the coronation could be used as an excuse to push back the election, but Wissanu Krea-ngam, the deputy prime minister, assured the public on Friday that it would slip no further than March. 

‘In Memory’ is not the first time the prime minister has used the medium of song to convey a political message, and is the seventh in his musical collection. 

His ballad ‘Return Happiness to Thailand’, released one month after army chiefs seized absolute power in a coup d’etat in May 2014, was an instant hit. However, an early 2018 song ‘Diamond Heart’ about building ‘our hearts’ dream together’ reportedly bombed on YouTube. 

Late last year the military government entered a rap battle with a group of young hip-hop artists whose own provocative video slammed the army’s domination over national politics

The group was initially under threat of arrest for its video ‘Which is My Country’, which fiercely criticised the regime’s record on human rights and freedom of speech.  

With lyrics including “the country that points a gun at your throat, claims to have freedom but has no right to choose,” and “you must choose to either eat the truth or bullets,” the rap chalked up millions of views on social media. 

The Thai authorities initially denounced its irreverence and threatened legal consequences, but the government then executed a U-turn in the form of its own rap and attempted a sing-off.  

'Thailand 4.0’ presented a more utopian, wholesome vision of Thailand, and focussed on technological achievements and economic growth.