6 June 2024

Thailand’s Army Commander-in-Chief General Apirat Kongsompong responded to a reporter’s question this morning about his view of the current political situation by suggesting the media listen to the old ultra-nationalist song “Nak Paendin” (Burden of the Land).

His comment was an indirect response to a question about the Pheu Thai party’s chief campaign strategist Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphant’s comment on Sunday that her party would cut defence spending by about 10% and would abolish military conscription if the party wins the election.

The lyrics of the song were written by Colonel Boonsong Hakrithsoek in 1975, when Thailand was under Communist threat after the fall of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  Then, the country was embroiled in intense political conflict between left-wing students, labourers and right-wing extremists.

The song was intended to counter leftist activism and foment nationalist sentiment.  It described those who have Thai names, but are not Thais by heart, those who instigate unrest and cause division or insult Thai identity or cultures and those who harbor ill intent toward the country as “Nak Paendin”.

The song was repeatedly broadcast in Bangkok before and after right-wing extremists and police stormed the Thammasat University campus on October 6, 1976 in one of the country’s bloodiest political crackdowns.