Oddly Enough

Junta leader writes new song, leaving Thais to face the music

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha attends an agreement signing ceremony with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, December 19, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s junta leader released the lyrics to a new patriotic ballad on Tuesday, the second song he has written since seizing power in 2014.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as army chief led the May 2014 coup, first wrote the song “Return Happiness to Thailand”, which is played constantly on television and radio stations as part of a public relations campaign by the junta to win over Thais.

The tune has racked up more than one million views on YouTube but has been mocked by critics of the junta.

His second song, “Because You Are Thailand”, includes lyrics like “If we join hands ... the day we hope for is not far away” and “Because you are Thailand, you will not let anyone destroy you.”

Prayuth told reporters the song was his New Year present to the Thai people.

The junta, or National Council for Peace and Order, overthrew an elected government, putting an end to months of protests in Bangkok led by the middle class and elite who wanted to get rid of the civilian government of populist Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

A military government installed after the coup has largely stifled dissent and has gone hard after critics of the junta and monarchy by using a harsh royal insult law to detain dozens of people, prompting stern criticism from rights groups, the U.N. and some Western governments.

The junta has repeatedly delayed planned elections, claiming the country is not yet stable enough to hold a poll.

Prayuth comes from a musical family. His daughters enjoyed brief fame in Thailand as a pop duo called BADZ.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by