Thaksin and the National Anthem

Thaksin and the National Anthem - October 20, 2004

Every morning at 8am the National Anthem is played across the country as flags are raised. On TV, montages of patriotic and royal images are shown as the anthem plays.

A controversy erupted recent when it was noticed that the Prime Minister was now part of these patriotic images on government TV channel 9.

The Prime Minister is part of a series of one-second images that includes photos of the Muslim South followed by scenes of army maneuvers (above--photos on this page are in the order they appear, but do not include every single shot).

The image of the prime minister shows him with his eyes lowered in a humble manner the entire time--as if it was expected that the inclusion of a political figure would be controversial in the national anthem montage.

Immediately after the Thaksin scene is a series of longer three-second shots that include HM The King and the Royal Family.

It is probably not coincidental that this controversy is being brought up as the election nears--the images have been running since January without comment.

In the Thai context, the contention that the "Premier symbolises national unity" is a bold one as the Thai monarch is considered the unifying symbol. This incident raises eyebrows as it shows that Thaksin, a partisan and controversial political figure, has the influence to elevate himself to symbolize unity. This also feeds into the recent debate over Thaksin's contention that those who are critical of him "do not love the country"

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Ch 9 stands by its use of PM's image - The Nation, October 19, 2004
State-run television station Channel 9 yesterday defended its decision to include a picture of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during its daily broadcast of the national anthem, saying it depicted national solidarity....
The picture of Thaksin exemplifies a harmonious and unified nation, which is why the station's senior executive used it, he said.
Thaksin is the first elected prime minister to be included in the montage of images that accompany the national anthem...

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