Proposed Law Would Require Thai Drivers to Stop for National Anthem

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Apparently believing that citizens (or at least motorists) are not sufficiently patriotic, a group of lawmakers in Thailand have proposed a new law that would require drivers to stop whenever the national anthem is played, which in Thailand happens every day over loudspeakers at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Thailand has been run by a military junta since 2006, and the 250 members of the legislature have been appointed by the generals since then.  The group proposing the new "Flag Bill" is itself made up of retired and active-duty generals.

According to the report, most Thais already stop what they are doing and stand at attention when the national anthem, Phleng chat thai, is played twice daily.  (The report didn’t say whether they do this out of patriotism or a desire to not get shot.)  Gen. Pricha Rochanasena, speaking for the supporters of the Flag Bill, said that the new law would simply "allow motorists to be patriotic too."  Seems hard to argue with that — that, and bullets.

Also supporting the extreme reasonableness of the proposed legislation: the Thai anthem is supposedly really short.  "The national anthem lasts only one minute and eight seconds, so why can’t motorists stop their cars for the sake of the country?" said Rochanasena.  "They already spend more time [than that] in traffic jams anyway."

Information on the relative length of national anthems is surprisingly hard to find, but according to one report the shortest anthem is Qatar’s at 32 seconds.  No trouble there — you could respect that one while you were stopped at a red light.  There doesn’t seem to be any agreement as to which is the longest, although Greece and Uruguay get mentioned a lot.  Of course, it would depend on who’s singing.  For example, according to Sports Illustrated’s "Dr. Z," who says he has been timing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at sporting events for 50 years, that one has been sung in as little as 1:03 (at a Falcons game in 1977) but more often is around 1:30.  Beyonce dragged it out to 2:09 in 2004.  Longest ever: somone named Leona Giles at an Oakland Raiders game — 2:34.8.  "It was an awful, awful thing to listen to."

Point is, the Thai anthem is short but not that short.  Luckily, a vote on the bill scheduled for November 22 was deferred to allow further study, said another party member, the awesomely named Wallop
Tangkananurak.  "It would be chaotic if the bill had passed as it is
now," he said.

Link: Reuters
Link: Wikipedia’s list of national anthems