News / Asia

Thai Army Targets Hearts and Minds with Stickers, Selfies

Soldiers hold roses given by supporters at Victory Monument, Bangkok, May 27, 2014.
Soldiers hold roses given by supporters at Victory Monument, Bangkok, May 27, 2014.
Reuters
A soldier smiles awkwardly as a woman hands him a flower and kisses his cheek. Farmers hold signs praising Thailand's military and a song plays out on radio stations urging love, peace and unity.

This is a slice of the daily staple of propaganda from a junta determined to win hearts and minds and reassure Thais their country is in safe hands, on the road to recovery a week after a coup it said it staged to prevent a descent into chaos.
 
Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during anti-coup demonstration at Victory Monument, Bangkok, May 28, 2014.Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during anti-coup demonstration at Victory Monument, Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
x
Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during anti-coup demonstration at Victory Monument, Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during anti-coup demonstration at Victory Monument, Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), as the junta is formally known, has been mixing soft power with rigorous security and censorship, asserting its influence over the airwaves while gagging independent media and warning the press against negative coverage of the armed forces.

Terrestrial television has been dominated by light-hearted images of a supportive public donating snacks to troops and posing with them for “selfie” photos. Recruitment advertisements for a mighty army have been ramped up, sandwiched between commercials for car batteries and fertilizer.
Soap operas are filling a void left by now-banned debates on current affairs and the NCPO has its striped logo displayed in the corner of the screen.

The various channels air synchronized broadcasts that explain the putsch, showing prominent supporters of the ousted government smiling and seemingly well treated in detention.

“The military is using television to maintain and show its control but I can't see it staying like this for too long. It's too rigid and will have to change,” said a professor at a Bangkok university, who asked to remain nameless as the junta had summoned some academics after they spoke to journalists.

“Media professionals aren't used to this and won't allow it to continue indefinitely. I know they're not happy at all.”

Coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha has promised broad and vague social, economic and political reforms but no timeframe for a return to democracy.

'We love the army'

The military council has quickly set to work to revive an economy that wilted during nearly seven months of political turmoil.

The first thing it did was to start making long-overdue payments for rice sold to the state in a subsidy scheme that went badly wrong, hoping perhaps to win over hundreds of thousands of farmers, the support base of the ousted government.

Thai PBS channel aired a 30-minute talk show on Tuesday about the former government's ruinous policy and how the junta had made it a priority to secure funds to pay farmers. It repeated the program the following day.

That message of military benevolence has been reinforced with looped footage on morning news of farmers emerging from banks counting fistfuls of notes and others sporting “We love the army” stickers, holding placards thanking the new government for paying up.

The propaganda machine is in full swing to discredit anti-coup demonstrators, with bulletins interrupting programming to ask the public to resist what they say are inducements of 400 baht ($12) offered via Facebook to attend protests.

“You can't get home because of these bad people,” a policeman on a loudspeaker bellowed at hundreds of commuters watching a rally on Tuesday at a Bangkok traffic hub where protests against the coup have taken place daily.

The police announcements accused demonstrators of being unpatriotic and chided foreign journalists covering the rallies who “don't understand Thailand.”

The Public Health Ministry has weighed in, too, warning Thais of the perils of paying too much attention to news, which could adversely affect their mental health.

“People at risk of such stress are advised to follow only the news from state-run news,” the ministry said, quoting its permanent secretary, Narong Sahamethaphat.

“If one feels stressed, has difficulty sleeping, has a headache or becomes easily irritated, he/she should consult the stress clinic at public health establishments or call the Mental Health Department's hotline.”
 
  • An anti-coup activist called for a weekend rally to defy the military government's ban on demonstrations. Here female riot police arrive at Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 30, 2014.
  • People make their way past a line of Thai soldiers guarding the street near Victory Monument to prevent anti-coup demonstrations in Bangkok, May 30, 2014.
  • Soldiers watch as police officers are reinforced to prevent an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 29, 2014.
  • Soldiers stand guard at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 29, 2014.
  • Soldiers and police guard the Victory Monument, after anti-coup protesters were forbidden to gather there, Bangkok, May 29, 2014.
  • A man walks near police vehicles at an empty Victory Monument, where anti-coup protesters were gathering on previous days, in Bangkok, May 29, 2014.
  • Thai Student Center for Democracy members raise their clenched fists during a protest against the military coup, Thammasat University in Bangkok, May 29, 2014.
  • Protesters scuffle with soldiers during a rally at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
  • Protesters scuffle with soldiers during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
  • A riot police officer is carried by colleagues after he was knocked down by an object thrown by protesters during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
May 29, 2014 1:07 PM
Once beautiful Thailand will become the new North Korea.

In Response

by: Morgan Freemix
May 29, 2014 2:39 PM
Oh no! Where will our hipsters go backpacking now??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid