Police went to the home of a French expat to force him to apologize to the ruling junta for a video in which he made fun of it.
Yan Marchal, a video game developer, last night detailed a visit by two policemen who’d staked out his home all day to pressure him into removing his “Junta Anthem Update” which featured him singing criticism of the military government in Thai to the tune of junta classic “Returning Happiness to the People.”
Marchal, who’s lived 15 years in Thailand, told Coconuts Bangkok this afternoon that he’d been making videos to learn about video production and social media. Previous efforts only reached a few thousand people, while the latest video was watched more than a million times.
“My willingness was to make something funny and make people laugh,” he said. “But when it hits 1 million, that’s when you hit the haters and the authorities.”
The 46-year-old said the police just wanted him to sign the apology “without mentioning what the consequences were if I didn’t.”
“The policemen were courteous, they had no animosity against me, they were just doing the job they had been tasked with,” he wrote Wednesday night.
“I did sign,” he added.
What he wrote about the apology:
“I would like to apologize to the NCPO as well as the people for singing the song which makes fun of the junta. I would like to express my deepest apologies.” The video is no longer available on his page.
Although it seems unlikely that creating the video violated any laws, Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha has been prickly to criticism during his five years in power. In recent years, the alleged admins of a Facebook page mocking the 2014 coup-maker were among eight people abducted from their homes by soldiers, a man was arrested for sharing a video mocking him over Line, and police were dispatched to arrest opposition politicians for saying bad things about him on Twitter.
In October, a group of underground rappers narrowly escaped legal repercussions for a video slamming the military government after its popularity exploded online with tens of millions of views.
Marchal said the video, which is no longer available on his page, got a huge response, only a small minority of which was negative.
“That clip made many more people laugh than it made people angry, but still, it made a few people angry, and I derive no pleasure from that,” he said. “My satisfaction is rather in being funny and assertive – which is harder to achieve when people get inflamed. I’d rather let things cool down, to be able to engage with people in a more constructive manner.”
Update: This story was updated with additional comments after Marchal was reached for an interview Thursday afternoon.