Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Music of Patriotism

I've heard it twice a day for the last three years. Let's see, that's 365 days x 3 years x 2 times a day = 2,190 times. My first year working at the college, I stood respectfully at attention each morning while the voices of 5,000 students sang in unison to both the national and king's anthem, while a huge Thai flag was raised. By now, I've heard it so often that, by the amazing learning method called "osmosis", I now can even sing it in Thai. But yesterday it struck me that even though these songs are part of the routine of my daily life, I still had no idea what the lyrics meant. A five-minute internet search ended my curiousity. A translation follows:

The Thai National Anthem

Thailand embraces in its bosom
All people of Thai blood.
Every inch of Thailand
belongs to the Thais.
It has long maintained its sovereignty
because the Thais have always been united.
The Thai people are peace-loving
But they are no cowards at war.
They shall allow no-one
To rob them of their independence.
Nor shall they suffer tyranny.
All Thais are ready to give up
Every drop of blood for the nation's
Safety, freedom and progress.
Chai Yo (CHEERS)

To hear it , click here.

Usually, along with the National Anthem, the "King's Anthem" is also sung. In every theater across the country, the audience stands at attention to this song before a movie is shown, and many sports events begin with the singing of these lyrics as well.

The King's Anthem

I, servant of Buddha
Prostrate my heart and head
To pay homage and give great blessings
To the protector of the land,
One of the Great Chakri Dynasty
Head of the Thai people
Supreme in rank
I know comfort from your protection.
Because of your gracious care
All the people are happy and peaceful.
We pray that whatever you wish for
Fate will grant you
According to your heart's desire
To bring you prosperity.
We salute you.

To hear it , click here.

When either song is played on loudspeakers throughout Thailand, I've seen busy town centers and bus stations come to a virtual halt while people stood at attention for the duration of the music. At 6:00pm every night, I'm usually running on a treadmill at the university fitness center when the anthems are played publicly. However, my treadmill also comes to a stop in respect to the Thai around me who cease their exercises and stand at attention while "facing the music."

When it comes to their country and king, the Thai are definitely a proud people!

Acknowledgement: Thanks to our friends over at for the audio link.


lillian said...

It doesn't cease to amaze me.... everything stops. Imagine trying something like this in the west....

Chaichakri said...


Sometimes I can't understand why Thais, even Malaysian Thais have unquestioned-loyalty to the Thai-State and Monarchy even when they are Malaysians by nationality.

Would you believe it all the Wat Thais in Malaysia have portraits of the reigning King and Queen of Thailand?

And also, the majority of Thai monks in Malaysia are from Thailand, most coming from the Isan province....

JD said...

In the West, seen it only at sports events--after which they unceremoniously shout "Play Ball!!!"--but never bringing a downtown to a stand still!

Hmmm, probably the same reason why long-time U.S. naturalized citizens from Britain still keep Queen Elizabeth's picture on their walls--sentimental loyalty to your roots, even if from a few generations back in history?

What's the general social status of a person of Thai heritage living in Malaysia?

SiamPhile said...

The 2 Thai songs that I can sing are Thailand National Anthem and Loy Krathong.

saeng said...

malaysian thai here as well ;)

my thai grandparents have potraits of the king all over their place, and so does everyone in their village.

status-wise, malaysian thais are also considered 'bumiputeras' literally translated 'natives of the soil'...along with the malays and the indigenous people of the malay peninsular and borneo.

trangam said...

JD! How are You doing.

Chaichakri said...

Acharn krab,

I just need to add this.....Not all Thais are considered bumiputeras. The Thai-Chinese are deinitely NOT on this list!

And also, my family is MUCH more Chinese than we are Thai. In fact, I reckoned, other than the cultural elements of having posters of King Rama IX, we are 99% Malaysian Chinese.... hee hee

General living standards of Malaysians Thai are only average. However, that is ONLY for the Thai Thai community in the Northern Malay States, and not the Thai Chinese folks.

Most Penang Peranakan families, even the rich ones, would have at least ONE Thai (mainly Phuket) ancestor. It shows the roots of the Penang-Phuket long history.

As in Thailand, most Thai Chinese families, especially in Penang have dual identities --- being a Malaysian Chinese in public, but a closeted Thai when it comes to religious and cultural celebrations

JD said...

An interesting concept: a "closeted" Thai. For being only 1% Thai, you are sure doing a good job "outing" yourself! Part of your uniqueness. :-)

JD said...

P.S. Thanks for the great "Cliff's Notes" version of Malay/Thai/Chinese cultural kaleidoscope that comprises the Malaysian social spectrum. That's the kind of thing I copy and paste into my "travel" file on my Smartphone for future reference!

Drowmage said...

Hi there,

Being a Malaysian-born Thai myself, I can understand the undying loyalty those in my position have to the Thai king, although we are born and bred as Malaysians (this is a loosely figurative term in this country that practices segregation of people).

The Thai culture has been ingrained and planted in us since young. If you have had a Thai parent (or in my case, BOTH Thai parents), you would have had to participate in numerous Thai festivities, been taught Thai values, and probably warned of Thai superstitions dating back centuries.

In Penang, where the Thai community is larger, compared to Kuala Lumpur, most Thais stick together in their own groups, congregating at the temple, or the market, or their favourite coffee stall which is run by a Thai. (Merely an observation, not a fact etched in stone)

It's also the unique situation where you meet people who greet you in a falsetto voice "Oh, you're THAI!" followed by a request to teach them a word or two in Thai.

I'm glad I found this site... definitely adding you to my blogroll.