Thailand’s military just overthrew the government, imposed martial law, and blocked out most independent media. Now it’s trying really hard to make sure people are happy about it.
The Thai military government is organizing a campaign dubbed “Return Happiness to the Public,” that consists of free festivals, concerts, and cleanups in central Bangkok. The military even offered free “happy” haircuts and dessert to attendees of one such event over the weekend.
One of the kickoff events took place today in downtown Bangkok, featuring a performance from the Royal Thai Army orchestra, and a gaggle of scantily clad women.
Video of the Royal Thai Army putting on a free concert in central Bangkok. Credit: Youtube/Morning BEC - TERO·
There were also performances of Jessie J’s “Price Tag” and “I Will Survive” by the Royal Thai Army that took place at the concerts on Saturday.
Credit: Youtube/Sakorn Sirima
Credit: Youtube/Sakorn Sirima
The Thai Government’s Public Relations department announced a weekly free concert series beginning Thursday night and planned for every consecutive Thursday onward.
This public service project has been prompted in large part by a speech given last month by the military’s leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, encouraging the Thai people to be happy with military rule.
“Thai people, like me, have probably not been happy for nine years, but since May 22, there is happiness,” said General Prayuth, referring to when the military overthrew the government.
Today soldiers from the military junta, dubbed the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), were sent to central Bangkok to clean up the mess left from the past week of anti-coup protests.
A spokesman for the military government announced today that the junta plans to begin airing a weekly program on state television every Friday, on which General Prayuth will update the public on the military’s efforts to invigorate Thailand, the country known as the “Land of Smiles.” Prayuth will not be taking any questions, however, and the broadcast will be compulsory for TV stations.
The military’s happy campaign comes in response to the widespread anti-coup protests and demonstrations opposing the military’s crackdown on dissent over the past weeks.
Soon after the military took over power on May 22, it shut down all foreign media outlets and replaced all programming with military state television. Facebook access was also briefly blocked in the country, which many believed was intended to clamp down on demonstration organization taking place on social media by activists.
In addition to censuring most of the country’s media, Thailand’s military has also detained more than 300 people since taking over and imposed martial law banning protests.
Colonel Winthai Suwaree, a spokesperson for the government, said today that the military’s crackdown was necessary for getting the country back on track.
“Although those who disagree with the NCPO’s ways are few, they affect the NCPO’s mission to return happiness to the country,” Suwaree explained.
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