The Shan Herald Agency for News has a great selection of photos of folksy Thai “songs for life” icon, Yuenyong “Ad” Ophakul, celebrating Shan State National Day with troops back in February. Famous as “Ad Carabao”, he appears to have been accompanied to the Thai-Burma border by a delegation of other Thais. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about his circles to proffer any names. More coverage of his visit is also available here.
For some context, The Irrawaddy has a useful interview with Ad Carabao from 2002, just after his pro-Shan album Don’t Cry: The Story of the Dispossessed was released.
In my 2003 ANU Honous thesis I made some brief comments about his involvement in the Shan struggle. Some readers may find them interesting.
From: Nicholas Farrelly, Focus on the Tai Village: Thai Interpretations of the Shan along the Thai-Burma Border, Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University, 2003, pages 50-51.
One extreme version of this affiliation is espoused by Thai singer, social critic and activist Yuenyong “Ad” Ophakul. Better known as “Ad Carabao”, he sings about the Shan in his 2002 album, Don’t Cry: The Story of the Dispossessed. The album refashions Bob Marley songs with lyrics that describe the suffering of the Shan. The lyrics emphasise Tai unity and the affinity that the Thai and Shan feel for each other. Ad Carabao’s brief introduction to the situation is a cry for attention and support. He declares that the “Shan are the majority population of the Shan State. Those 10 million people – citizens and soldiers… are involved in a legitimate battle for an independent homeland”. The legitimacy of that fight is underlined by the title of track nine, which exhorts listeners to “Grab your weapons” (р╕Ир╕▒р╕Ър╕нр╕▓р╕зр╕╕р╕Ш). Carabao positions himself as a Tai: as part of the Shan struggle. In the song book there is a picture of Carabao holding the flag of an independent Shan State while wearing a Shan State Army uniform. This gesture is aimed, no doubt, to motivate Thai support for the Shan war against the Burmese government. To achieve the goal of a free Shan State, there is a need, the title of track four suggests, to “Settle Accounts” (р╕Др╕┤р╕Бр╕Ър╕▒р╕Нр╕Кр╕╡). In that vein, Carabao cries that the:
Land of the Shan State is ours.
The land of the Shan State is the Shan’s.
Don’t make us forget.
For Carabao the prize is the “Shan State Our Home” (р╕гр╕▒р╕Рр╕Йр╕▓р╕Щр╕Ър╣Йр╕▓р╕Щр╣Ар╕гр╕▓).