Fight the power: Thai rap stars savage junta 'bootlickers'

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 23 2019 09:43 PM

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A golden statue of Thai premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha with the word "cheat" behind him looms over five rappers as they rip into junta "bootlickers", in a video gone viral on the eve of an election critics say is stacked to favor the generals.

Excitement is coursing through Thailand ahead of Sunday's vote, which will determine whether the army that grabbed power in 2014 can hold onto it through the ballot box.

Rival campaign convoys sent loud messages across Bangkok early Saturday in a last-minute dash for votes in what many analysts expect to be a cliffhanger election.

Thai hip-hop sensation Rap Against Dictatorship has also weighed in with a new caustic attack called "250 Bootlickers" -- aimed at a rubber-stamp upper house which will be instrumental in appointing the next prime minister.

General Prayut, who toppled the last civilian government, hopes to return as a civilian premier after Sunday's poll with the help of the Senate, whose members will be appointed by the junta's number two over the coming days.

The track, released late Friday on YouTube, has already been viewed nearly 114,000 times.

"Bootlickers, bootlickers... constitution of bootlickers," Liberate P raps in a coruscating chorus.

"Why bother campaigning when there is still the night of the howling dogs," another member says, referencing a Thai idiom for last-minute vote-buying.

Surrounding the rappers are symbols and statues, a who's who of Thai politics including billionaire ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and Prayut -- all works by artist Headache Stencil known as "Thailand's Banksy".

Artists and musicians have been skewering the junta in increasingly bold ways as the election nears. 

RAD's first song "What My Country's Got?" -- a indictment of military oppression -- garnered 60 million views and earned a rebuke from Prayut, though the rappers faced no legal censure. 

"The new generation has a chance to bring change to the country," RAD's Hockhacker told AFP on Friday, adding the party he will vote for "is not supporting the junta".

Thailand's traditional split between Thaksin-aligned and pro-junta factions will be tested by the entry of more than seven million first-time voters aged between 18 and 25, and new parties joining the fray.

The most prominent is Future Forward, led by telegenic billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who has commandeered the hearts of millennials with slick campaigns and calls to unwind junta power.

A commenter on RAD's video says he hopes the rappers' message "will reach Thai eligible voters... and I wish change would happen tomorrow".