BANGKOK — In the homestretch to the first public measure of the junta which dislodged her government from power, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra shared a song with the world Tuesday.
Yingluck serenades her brother in blood and political fortune on the occasion of his birthday in a video released Tuesday which also serves to remind Thais that they’re not going anywhere.
“I give this song from my missing heart as a present to my brother on his birthday,” Yingluck wrote in in the Facebook post which served to publicize the video Tuesday afternoon. “My love and respect for him never diminishes. I wish you good health and happiness forever. I love you always.”
Those saccharine sentiments persist through the six-minute clip, which begins with a monologue explaining her sadness in being unable to wish her brother a happy birthday in person today.
“I can go anywhere in Thailand, except go abroad,” she says. “While [Thaksin] can travel anywhere on the globe but Thailand. It’s torturing.”
Junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha was speaking to reporters after his Tuesday cabinet meeting when he noticed several reporters watching the video on their smartphones. He dismissed it, saying he wouldn’t stop anyone from celebrating Thaksin’s birthday.
Yet the video is unlikely to be welcomed by members of the military which have sought to stamp out the influence wielded by Yingluck and her brother since seizing power in 2014.
Since then, 49-year-old Yingluck has kept a relatively low profile. She’s forbidden to travel abroad as she’s partway through a long trial relating to alleged malfeasance in the administration of an agricultural subsidy.
However she occasionally publicizes the warm welcomes she receives on visits into the provinces.
At the beginning of the new year, the military reacted harshly when Yingluck and Thaksin published a book and calendar. A few months later she hosted a charm session with the media in her vegetable garden. In April authorities seized thousands of red plastic bowls stamped with their greetings for the Thai New Year.
They are loathed figures by the coup makers and their supporters, who, seeing the Shinawatras as architects of massive corruption, overturned representative democracy to deprive them of power.
Now as the constitution it wants passed to contain a return to power by the Shinawatras goes to a public vote Aug. 7, the military government is struggling to control the narrative by quashing dissent.
Pretty much every year, Thaksin’s birthday invites a furor as his supporters seek to recognize it.
Earlier this month, a birthday party in Hong Kong was canceled after a large number of Pheu Thai Party politicians signaled their plans to go abroad. The junta said they may not be allowed back into the country, and the party was cancelled. Thaksin is currently in London.
In Yingluck’s video, she sings “Pleng Kong Ter (Your Song),” a 2010 ballad originally sung by noted female singer Thanaporn “Parn” Waekprayoon.
“Because of you, life has come beyond a dream, because of you, my life has found a lighted route, you’re the most beautiful gift and the most precious for one’s breath, I promise not to leave and will lay my heart on your hand,” goes a portion of the song.
Yingluck didn’t let the birthday wishes go without mentioning their mandate from the public.
“Another sentiment that I feel, and I’m sure [Thaksin] shares with me is that, we were both elected by the people. We can feel their love and kindness toward us,” she says.