The other day I was watching CNN when a news clip started. It was about a fishball-eating contest somewhere in Thailand.
I anticipated an amusing little sequence that would feature happy locals gulping down fishballs, probably accompanied by snappy morlam music and dancing upcountry maidens. I was looking forward to seeing it when BANG! Down came the heavy hand of the junta, cutting off the sequence with the now-all-too-common notice, “Programming will return shortly.”
It did, but by then all the fishballs had been eaten, the anticipated morlam music and dancing maidens had finished, and I hadn’t been able to see any of it. This put me in a very bad mood.
Is the junta so paranoid about criticism that they have to block every news item that even mentions Thailand? There is a famous slogan illustrating the totalitarian mindset in George Orwell’s 1984: “Big Brother is watching you.” We can expect that it will soon be joined in the halls of infamy by its new Thai counterpart: “Programming will return shortly.”
By engaging in such silly overkill, the NCPO risks the possibility that future historians will classify it in the same league as the old Burmese junta SLORC, the late unlamented Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. This is supposed to be the Land of Smiles, not the Land of Scowls. If the junta really wants to restore happiness to the Thai people and, incidentally, to resident farang, they would be well advised to cut it out and lighten up.