Thai junta pushes ‘happiness’ project

Critics say rulers also aim to stifle political dissent

BANGKOK — The military junta that seized power last month has no plans to restore civilian rule any time soon but it has launched an official campaign to bring back what it says this divided nation desperately needs — happiness.

The project has involved free concerts, free food, alluring female dancers in suggestive camouflage miniskirts, even the chance to pet horses trucked into downtown Bangkok with makeshift stables and bales of hay. The fair-like events are supposed to pave the way for reconciliation after a decade of political upheaval and coups.

But critics point out that the feel-good project is being carried out alongside an entirely different junta-led campaign — an effort to stifle all opposition to the army’s May 22 putsch, which deposed a government elected by a majority of Thai voters three years ago.

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Cheer up, Thailand! Junta aims to return happiness Military junta launches effort to return happiness to Thailand - World - The Boston Globe (external - login to view)