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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

An anti-military rap song has caused controversy in Thailand

The track by the collective Rap Against Dictatorship laments life under Thai’s military junta

An audience member (2nd-R) raps with members of the group Rap Against Dictatorship on stage in Bangkok on October 27, 2018 AFP 
An audience member (2nd-R) raps with members of the group Rap Against Dictatorship on stage in Bangkok on October 27, 2018 AFP 

A rap song has caused a stir in Thailand with its lyrics criticising the military government.

Straight out of Bangkok, a newly formed hip-hop collective called Rap Against Dictatorship released the track What My Country’s Got on YouTube on October 22 and within a week amassed over 21 million views.

The government are presently mulling the prospect of pressing charges against the group for violating the kingdom’s stringent security laws.

In response to the 2014 protests against Thailand's caretaker government, the military took control and established a junta called the National Council for Peace and Order.

Ever since, the present leadership, spearheaded by prime minister and former army chief army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has increased its presence across the media with songs praising the government in addition to a weekly television program extolling its virtues.

Over subdued beats laced with an evocative guitar riff, the indignant rappers attempt to eviscerate that image through gritty lyrics that appeal directly to the youth: “The country that points a gun at your throat. Claim to have freedom but not right to choose…. whatever you do, the leader will see you.”

But not all of Thai’s emerging hip-hop community is on message.

Rapper Natee Ekwijit, from the group Buddha Bless, took to social media to state that democracy doesn’t necessarily equate to freedom. He notes that there are “dictators disguised in democracy” and that “democratic governments also censure media.”

As for the prime minister himself, he refused to mention the song's name during an official visit to the northern province of Phayo on Monday.

He urged people not to pay attention to the "social media buzz."

“Use your own judgement. Is it really that bad? Is life really that hard? Is it that oppressive? Am I so dictatorial? If I were a dictator, I wouldn't be here [to visit people],” prime minister Chan-ocha said, "I could just give orders somewhere else. Don’t let anyone distort the facts. If we appreciate it today, freedom without limits will turn against you, your family and your children in the future. Don’t let yourselves be a tool of others. If society is like this, I don’t think we can go on.”

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