Police threaten young rappers
Controversy over a music video, Prathet Ku Mee (What My Country's Got), which has been perceived as an attack on the military government, is heating up after police threatened to take legal action against the artists and the production team.
Police claimed the content of the song damages the country's image and likely violates the Computer Crimes Act.
Uploaded on YouTube on Oct 22, the 5-minute music video (with English subtitles) has become a sensation across the country. As of this morning, the number of views had soared to 5.8 million. The music video became the talk of the town, especially after the police and government came out to criticise it.
Made by an anti-military group called Rap Against Dictatorship, the song lists the country's political and social problems -- divisive and violent politics, chronic corruption, inequality and injustice.
The lyrics talk about events such as corruption cases under the military government.
"My country's got a black panther shot by a rifle. My country preaches morals but has a crime rate higher than the Eiffel [Tower]."
"It's a country where judges live in a resort built inside a national park and it is a country where the city centre becomes a killing field!"
"My country points a gun at your throat. It claims to have freedom but gives no right to choose."
At the end of the music video, the following message is given: "Divide-and-rule is a dictator's best trick. All People Unite."
"With condolences to all lives which have perished on both sides due to the bloody crackdown."
There is a scene in the video that seems to recreate the 1976 October massacre in front of Thammasat University.
The production team recreated the scene where chairs are used to repetitively strike dead bodies, presumably protesters, hanging from a tree.
Government spokesperson Buddhipongse Punnakanta said the government was sad and disappointed that the young rappers had made this song.
"The lyrics appear to be an attack on the government. The creators must feel vindicated, but the most damaged party is the country," he said.
Deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said yesterday that the group may have violated the law.
He says there's a 50% chance the song "What My Country's Got" may have violated a junta order.
Pol Gen Sivara said the police would summon the rappers and investigate the case.
He also warned that musicians shouldn't do anything risky and against the law because if it was found there was any wrongdoing, it would not lead to good results for them or their families.
Those who share the clip on social media might face a 5-year jail term and/or a fine up to 100,000 baht, he said.
A spokesperson for Rap Against Dictatorship told the media that the music video was made to raise political awareness.
"The objective of making this song was to use music as a medium to make teenagers and working people more interested in politics. Music is easily accessible for all. We used the Oct 6, 1976 massacre as the background for the music video to reflect a situation in which state agencies create disharmony among people. We need people to pay attention to freedom of speech. Rappers can sing songs about politics and they should feel free to express what's on their minds," the spokesperson said.
Teerawat Rujenatham, director of the music video told the Bangkok Post in a phone interview that he was not surprised by the government's reaction. "Yet, I wish the police would spend time doing something more productive such as serving people or solving corruption cases".
What surprised him most was the overwhelming reaction from the public yesterday when the numbers of viewers jumped by over 1 million in a single day.
"I need to thank the police and government's overreaction which helped people see our work," said Mr Teerawat.
- chronic (adj): (of a disease, pain or problem) serious and lasting for a long time - เป็นประจำ
- condolences (noun): sympathy that you feel for somebody when a person in their family or that they know well has died; an expression of this sympathy - การแสดงความเสียใจต่อผู้อื่น
- corruption (n): dishonest or illegal behaviour, especially of people in authority -
- criticise: to say that you disapprove of somebody/something; to say what you do not like or think is wrong about somebody/something - วิจารณ์, ติเตียน,จับผิด
- dictator: someone who uses force to take and keep power in a country - จอมเผด็จการ
- dictatorship: a government having complete power and which does not rule democratically - เผด็จการ
- disappointed: unhappy because someone or something was not as good as you hoped or expected, or because something did not happen - ผิดหวัง
- disharmony: a situation in which people are angry and arguing with each other - การแตกแยก, ความไม่ปรองดองกัน
- divisive: likely to cause arguments between people - อันจะก่อให้เกิดความแตกแยก
- judge: someone whose job is to make decisions in a court of law - ตุลาการ, ผู้พิพากษา
- massacre: the action of killing a lot of people - การสังหารหมู่
- medium: a method or way of expressing something - สื่อ
- overreaction (noun): reacting too strongly, especially to something unpleasant - การมีปฏิกิริยารุนแรงเกินไป
- overwhelming (adj): to be greatly affected emotionally - ท่วมท้นไปด้วยความรู้สึก
- panther (noun): a black leopard (= a large wild animal of the cat family) - เสือดำ,เสือลายตลับ
- perish : to die, usually in a sudden way - ตาย, ตายอนาถ
- productive: achieving good results - ที่ก่อให้เกิดผล
- sensation: something very exciting or interesting, or something which causes great excitement or interest - ความตื่นเต้น
- throat: the area at the back of your mouth and inside your neck - ช่องคอ
- unite (verb): to join together, often to work together to achieve a particular goal - รวมตัวกัน, รวมกันเป็นหนึ่งเดียว
- vindicate: to prove that something is true or that you were right to do something, especially when other people had a different opinion - พิสูจน์ว่าเขาไม่ผิด
- violate: to do something that is against a law, rule or agreement - ฝ่าฝืน, ละเมิด