BANGKOK – A day after the military ruler of Thailand expressed discontent with the "boring" background of his weekly TV show, hundreds of Thais responded by posting doctored images of the junta leader with new, comical backdrops.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister and chairman of Thailand's military junta, complained to the press at the Government House on 25 November that the public is not paying attention to his weekly televised addresses.
"Are you all bored of it now? Do you want me to dance in front of the camera next time?" Gen. Prayuth asked.
According to a report on Matichon, Gen. Prayuth also instructed technicians at the Government House to change the background of the weekly talk show, which is called "Returning Happiness to the People."
The current background is an image of the Government House and the Thai national flag.
Hours later, a Facebook page called "Change the Background For the Dear Leader" was created, and its administrator asked other Facebook users to submit their creative ideas. Dozens of submissions poured in almost immediately.
One image shows Gen. Prayuth in front of a poster for "The Hunger Games" film series; a mocking reference to the movie that gave inspiration to anti-coup "three finger salutes" in Thailand. On 19 November, five student activists were dragged away by security officers after they flashed the salute at Gen. Prayuth during his public address in Khon Kaen province.
Another image places Gen. Prayuth in front of a Hello Kitty background, and one Facebook user replaced the junta leader with a cat on the podium instead – a possible homage to the internet obsession with cats.
(Browse more of the photoshopped images here.)
Gen. Prayuth seized power from Thailand's elected government on 22 May and was chosen as Prime Minister in August by his rubber stamp parliament, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).
Since the military takeover, Gen. Prayuth has addressed the nation through an hour-long TV broadcast every Friday night to discuss the administration of the country, the economy, and other social issues.
However, Gen. Prayuth often veers off script to offer personal wisdom and bizarre comments on Thai politics. In one address, the general told the nation that he is a selfless man who works untiringly for the country, even picking up garbage from the streets whenever he sees any. In another, Gen. Prayuth fumed at anti-coup protesters and advised them to raise their three-finger salutes in their homes instead of public places.
It is unclear whether officials at the Government House will change the background for "Returning Happiness to the People" for tonight's airing as ordered by the junta chairman.
One thing is certain, however: none of the submissions to the "Change the Background" Facebook page will make it to the TV show. When a reporter asked Gen. Prayuth today what he thought about the entries on the comedy page, the junta chairman responded curtly: "I've seen it. They are all disgusting."