BANGKOK — A French expat who made a viral music video mocking junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha was visited on Thursday by two police officers and “made to apologise.”
Yan Eric Marchal, a Bangkok-based French expat, posted a video of him singing a parody song called “Returning Happiness to the People” on Tuesday that clocked upwards of 1 million views. He was promptly visited by the police two days later.
Police asked Marchal to remove the video and sign a memorandum stating that he was not coerced into doing so.
“I did sign. I won’t pick a fight that I cannot win and which would only result either in legal trouble, visa cancellation or both,” Marchal said.
The video was an adaptation of Prayuth’s famous “Returning Happiness to the Thai People”, the first song the junta leader penned after staging the May 2014 coup. The song was broadcast widely and repeatedly on radio and television.
Instead of the lyrics “we shall act according to our promises” and asking for “a little time” in power, Marchal’s version mocks Prayuth for staying in power as junta leader for five years. The 44-second video had as a backdrop the logo of the junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
“We will break our promises. We need a lot more time and the dictatorial system will live on. We will act tricky. We just need you to be gullible and close your eyes. The country is appetizing. We shall devour your tax money,” Marchal sang in Thai in the since deleted video.
Marchal, 46, has lived in Bangkok for 15 years and has two children with his Thai wife. Speaking on the phone Thursday afternoon, Marchal said he has hopes Thailand’s political situation will improve if its education system encourages more freedom of thought.
Marchal said that he has not contacted the French embassy, adding that he will only do so if the video results in legal ramifications.
“I don’t want to waste their time,” said the expat.
Marchal has posted on social media the English version of the memorandum he signed on Thursday.
Part of it states: “I voluntarily agreed to make a deal in front of the Police Col. …I released a mockery clip to the song of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) dated 10 June 2019 [and] it was [an] improper act. [I am] now repenting for the bad action and will not do it again…I myself would like to say sorry to the government and the people of Thailand [for] my improper behavior which [is] causing damage [to] the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the people of Thailand.”
The memorandum also states that Marchal “will [make an] apologetic clip to say sorry to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the people of Thailand” and ended with a pre-typed statement that the memorandum was caused by his “guilt and no one was forced.”
Marchal wrote on Facebook that he will take a break from posting about Thai politics for a while, but defended the video.
“Much of the criticism I got revolved around ‘why are you hating a country that is not even yours,’ ‘love it or leave it,’ ‘if you are a guest in a country, stay in your place.’ So let me post the obvious here for the record: 1) criticizing a government and a regime does not equate to hating a country. I love Thailand, I just don’t love dictators and military coups,” wrote Marchal in a Facebook post on Tuesday before the police visit.
This story has been updated after Khaosod English was able to contact Marchal.