Thailand's coup leaders order soldiers to smile

September 23, 2006 08:57

Thailand is often called the 'Land of Smiles,' and the military's coup leaders apparently don't want to ruin that image. So, soldiers have been ordered to smile. Army radio broadcasts are reminding soldiers to be friendly and courteous, especially to children and anyone who wants to take pictures with them. Since Tuesday's overthrow of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, tanks and soldiers have been stationed at strategic points around Bangkok, instantly becoming a must-have photograph for many Thais and tourists. "People have shown overwhelming support for the soldiers," the army radio station said Saturday. "People take their children to see the tanks and take pictures with the tanks and soldiers." "The soldiers should promote a positive image and continue smiling, and be polite," the army radio said. It's unclear if soldiers were also ordered to let civilians hold their M-16s, which some Thais and foreigners did as they posed for photographs that were published in local newspapers Saturday. Many Thais have described this as the friendliest coup this country has ever seen. Thailand has a history of violent military coups, and the last one in 1991 ended with at least 50 pro-democracy demonstrators gunned down in Bangkok.

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