Written by Patiwat Saraiyaem

Translated by Peera Songkünnatham

May is our month of memory. Beginning with International Workers’ Day, it marches past several anniversaries—the gunning down of Jit Phumisak on the 5th, the Rajprasong crackdown on Red Shirt protesters in mid-May, the 2014 coup on the 22th—only to end with the anniversary of the execution of schoolteacher-turned-politician Krong Chandavong in 1961 on the orders of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat.

In May 2018, the Krong Chandavong Learning Center was opened to the public. The following anniversary (May 2019), Patiwat “Molam Bank” Saraiyaem, who had recently served two years for a lese-majeste violation as an actor, was invited to perform along with Mokhaen Buatongnoi Rotdet, and Molam Puwanart Maisaendee. Patiwat wrote a lam long, a traditional ode characterized by slow chanting and a relatively free-flowing structure, for the occasion. Having two molam performers chant a single lam long is uncharacteristic; this was a nod to the fact that another man, Tongpan Sutthimat, was also executed that day.

Below are the lyrics of the first ten minutes of the 13-minute performance, translated from a mix of Lao and Thai, also known as Isan language. Left untranslated is the up-tempo, danceable finale, where the story is tied up in a call to action, with the important addition of the name Tiang Sirikhanth, another slain socialist politician from the northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon.

In Remembrance of Kru Krong Chandavong

Lam long


The sky goes bang

Around Sawang Daen Din

On this side of Sakon Nakhon

The Free Thai hero of Mount Paan

We hear his name resound

Kru Krong, the unforgettable man

Kru Krong, the legend world-renowned…

These days

The age where rocks float on water

Fish swallow stars, bark falls off pillars

Girls leave sweethearts for the capital

Old folks grumble in their absence

Parliament is ripped apart

Intimidated by gun-toting pests

The economy gets stuck in a ditch

People leave behind their homes

To roam as hungry Little Ghosts

Democracy becomes a catchy word

Dictators use as camouflage

The power of the people burgled

And wrecked beyond all recognition

Been years of crying in a circle

Of us folks sitting impotent

With the dictatorship’s M16s

Trained, ready to blow out our brains

In fear we have full body twitches

The country… it’s crickets

Nobody opens their mouth

Wherever you look seems about

To combust, raging as a bonfire

Think about it, people

Way back when Kru Krong was alive

Things were just like today

Back then, whoever joined a gathering

(motions to the audience)

Back then, whoever joins a gathering

Hangs out in a gang, a group

Will be touched by disaster

Any corner of Thai lands you look

Lurks the threat of dictatorship

It destroys in one fell swoop

By the devil’s despotic decree

It points a finger: you’re a threat

To the country, then by the neck

Drags you to jail, throwing away

The keys—forget about release

Or at times it abducts

And burns the body in a tire

Our country in shatters throughout

It covers up the ears and eyes

While mouths can only silently mouth

It gets that bad. Back then,

Power was in the hands of Grandpa Sarit

His coup d’état was the coup de grâce

To people’s power: the state put down

Regular folk by barbaric force

People were scar(r)ed; he who refused

To bow became a shooting target

Kru Krong was unafraid, and single-minded

He roused people to fight, to stand tall

Barbaric power, barbarously

Closed off escape and grabbed his nape

To execute by law

Throttle with Adharma

This, people, is dictatorship

Barbaric power by Article 17

That ordered killings, that imprisoned

That executed Kru Krong

Taking from him his wife and kids

And all his reputation, his son

Witit was also in prison then

Heavy-hearted was he who heard

His father passed, silent tears shed

With dictatorship hounding…

Sadhu der, sadhu der, sadhu der

In any future lifetime

May I never cross paths

With the ghoulish Mara

This airfield of Sawang Daen Din

Is a realm free from worry

Is a place of pride to spite

The rage against dictatorship…


The scaffold stood tall, front and centered;

Sawang Daen Din beheld in grief.

’Twas midday: into the crowd entered

Kru Krong, chained by the tyrant-in-chief.

Next to him was Nai Tongpan, slated

To suffer too the blows of wrath;

Waving farewell to all, he stated

“Let me take leave from Mara’s path.”

In awe, the crowd saw Kru Krong smile,

Walk up the scaffold, undeterred

By the death sentence from their trial,

And shake the sky with his final word:

“May dictatorship be wrecked. May democracy rise.”


Onto the execution platform, the heart undaunted by the dictatorship. Resolute in the stand against Adharma, Adharma wicked and cruel. Thirteen past twelve the trigger pulled, the bullets pierced the body of Kru Krong, extinguishing him. The only sound heard was the sky’s, the words reverberating in the skies: May dictatorship be wrecked! May democracy rise! May dictatorship be wrecked! May democracy rise! May dictatorship be wrecked! May democracy rise!

Shed tears of rage. Refuse to give.

Unite to fight the dictatorship.

Descendants listen. Never forget.