THAILAND - Report: Thailand’s military junta wages happiness offensive

FRANCE 24 English

par FRANCE 24 English

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Thailand’s generals, who seized power in a military coup in May to end increasingly violent political turmoil, are hell-bent on imposing happiness on the population. FRANCE 24 reports from Bangkok.


After relaxing some of the curfews that threatened Bangkok’s vital tourist trade, and giving the country free access to the football World Cup on terrestrial TV, the country’s soldiers are taking to the streets with a message of joie de vivre.
Several times a week since the coup, the junta has organised large street parties in the capital, complete with free food and medical care, in a bid to win over the population.
"We are very happy,” one reveler told FRANCE 24. “Most Thai people are very satisfied that the army is trying to solve the problem before we have an election. Maybe they'll need a year or a year and a half, but that doesn't matter."
Junta leader’s sentimental ballad
On the streets of Bangkok, there seems to be some genuine optimism and hope for a literal “Return to Happiness in Thailand”, the title of a sentimental ballad written by junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Achieving this happiness is going to be a challenge in the long term, as arrests, censorship and curfews remain a daily reality for most Thais.
Colonel Werachon Sukondhapatipak, spokesman for the junta which titles itself the “National Council for Peace and Order”, told FRANCE 24 that genuine happiness was vital to the generals’ bid to institute meaningful and lasting social reform.
“We want to gain trust and confidence,” he said, explaining that street parties were a way for the army to connect with the people, even the “Red ... Go on reading on our web site.
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