Tainted love for junta chief’s latest pop song

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Prayut Chan-o-cha. afp

BANGKOK (AFP) – The Thai junta chief’s attempt to woo the country with a rock ballad dubbed “Diamond Heart” fell flat on Valentine’s Day as netizens panned the lyrics written by a dictator whom some would prefer to break up with.

With lines like, “Did you know your smile is my happiness?” and “No matter how tired and difficult, let’s hold hands”, the guitar-heavy tune is the fourth pop song which Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has penned since his 2014 coup.

But the downbeat reception – a YouTube clip of the song received 14,000 ‘thumbs down’ compared to 593 ‘thumbs up’ – is the latest suggestion that Thais are ready to part ways with a military ruler who has outstayed his welcome.

“People with true diamond hearts would not lie day after day…and seize power from woman,” Twitter user @noonchuckyai wrote, referring to Prayut’s coup against the government of Thailand’s first female premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

The song’s chorus urges Thais to “Make your heart like a genuine diamond, don’t be defeated by anything”.

A junta spokesperson said the ditty, which is sung by an army officer, was released by government-run radio last Friday and played down any connection to Valentine’s Day, which is massively popular in Thailand.

“It is my understanding that Prayut wanted to give support to people who do good deeds for the country,” Atisith Chainuvati, assistant government spokesperson, said.

Prayut, a mercurial leader whose penchant for songwriting offers a rare glimpse of a softer side, has run Thailand with an iron fist since his 2014 coup, which installed the most authoritarian regime the kingdom has had in a generation.

His musical debut, an ultra-patriotic pop hit titled “Return Happiness to Thailand”, was played round the clock on radio stations after the putsch that toppled an elected government.

But frustration is growing about repeated delays in a promised return to democracy.

There have been a series of small but bold protests defying a regime that has banned politics of any kind and prosecutes activists.

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