Not Fair

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From Manager, May 7, 2015
Pheu Thai politicians on the left and Democrat Abhisit on the right: This constitution impedes politicians to take power. We must fight because it’s not democracy!!
A caption on the left: Fight… because they’re afraid of not being a government.
A caption on the right: Fight… because they’re afraid not being the opposition party?
[The cartoon ridicules the Democrat Party, led by Abhisit, that has consistently lost election after election. The party’s seems to have little reason to be worried about being shut out of power by the constitution since it has been unable to win a recent election.]

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4 Years Ago: Thailand’s Professional Hitmen and Why They Can’t Be Put in Jail

Thailand’s Professional Hitmen and Why They Can’t Be Put in Jail

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11 Years Ago: Thaksin’s three-month anti-drugs campaign kills 2,245

Thaksin’s three-month anti-drugs campaign kills 2,245

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New definition of “work” for foreigners in Thailand

Thailand to Treat Foreigners Better Under Foreign Workers Act’s New Interpretation (pdf from Narit Law)
Their other legal articles are here.

[The former interpretation of the law merely gave leverage to local businessmen who wanted to menace foreign businesspeople they did not like for whatever reason. If they could get their police buddies to catch a foreigner in the act of attending a board meeting without a work permit, the foreigner would technically be in breach of the law.]

…In response to this opinion of the Council of State, in March 2015 the Department of Employment issued the Notification Re Activities Not Considered Work under the Foreign Workers Act, B.E. 2551 (2008), under which the department explicitly clarifies that the following activities are not considered the “work” under the Act. This means a foreigner that is engaged in any of these activities is no longer required to obtain a work permit from the department or to notify the department for any work with a short period of time.
1. Attending a meeting or a seminar.
2. Attending a fair, an exhibition or a goods exhibition.
3. Making any visit to observe business or to meet and negotiate a business.
4. Attending special and academic lectures.
5. Attending technical training and seminars.
6. Purchasing goods in a good exhibition.
7. Attending a meeting of a board of director of one’s company…

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Debate can find way forward for Thai politics

Debate can find way forward for Thai politics – globaltimes.cn, May 26, 2015
[Thanks to Tom for pointing this out.]
…The military group wants to resurrect a military-led authoritarian system, which was prevalent in the 1980s. Depending on a political alliance with the royal family and royalists, the military group can keep an eye on the legislature by appointing a certain number of senators, through which these elected political parties will be put under effective military oversight and restraint.
Thus, they argue, Thailand will be able to guarantee a stable environment and forge ahead with its middle- and long-term economic growth strategy. Besides, the system will effectively reduce pork-barrel politics and impulsive decision-making.
But the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra and his faction expect a restoration of election democracy. By relying on the financial support of capitalists and the majority farmers’ votes, Thaksin and his group can have a winner-takes-all result through the polls. In this way, Thaksin’s party can be the sole holder of administrative power as it was in 2005.
But the Democrat Party and urban middle-class elites want neither of these. They prefer a consultative democratic system which is different from a tyranny of the majority or a military dictatorship. They want to set up independent institutions, through constitutional review, to impose effective supervision on cabinet, parliament and the bureaucracy…

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Thaksin Shifts the Focus to Himself

This was a strange few days for Thaksin.

For months all eyes were on Gen. Prayuth. The narrative for Thailand had been about the “paranoid” general, his supposedly slipping power, and how a return to democracy must immediately happen to improve the economy.

Then came the Thaksin interview from Seoul (Thaksin says Privy Council ordered Suthep to protest and the military to stage a coup) that cast events in the same Thaksin-centric light that has been defining politics since before the coup in 2006.

Coupled with the emergence of old hand Chavalit to show solidarity with the Red Shirts, these moves by Thaksin are the same sorts of gambits he has been running since before the 2006 coup.

For those waiting to see a pro-Thaksin strategy emerge, Thaksin’s statements are nothing new at all, and only provided a perfect pretext to shift the focus from the junta to Thaksin and seize his passports at the same time.

The Red Shirt demand for a referendum also backfired. After acceding to the referendum, elections were pushed back at least six more months and promises were made that the military would maintain power in the event of a “no” vote to manage the drafting of a updated charter.

All of this also shows there are no backstage negotiations going on. The military is simply showing its resolve, not to the Thai public or international community, but to the political class, that it has the ability to resist Thaksin influence this time.

Thaksin may face lese majeste charge – Bangkok Post, May 27, 2015

Thai Govt Revokes Thaksin’s Passports, Citing ‘Damaging’ Interview – Khaosod, May 27, 2015

Thaksin raps coup ‘masterminds’ – Bangkok Post, May 22, 2015
…”The armed forces listen to privy counsellors. When they did not want us to stay in power, they ordered Suthep (Thaugsuban) to come out and ordered the armed forces to help (Suthep),” Thaksin told Choson Media in Seoul on Wednesday…

And meanwhile: Thai elections pushed back to Sept 2016: Junta – AFP, May 27, 2015

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Junta reverses course: No reform of the Royal Thai Police

Junta puts police reform on ‘too hard’ list – Bangkok Post, May 26, 2015
…Of course, the police have always been the “good boys” – good at following orders without question, like the men in green.
Hence, police reform is no longer a priority issue, or even an issue of interest, for the government and the NCPO. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said tersely last week that police reform would be left to the next government. No explanation was given why the back-pedalling now…

Earlier: Thai police to be totally reorganised and stripped of ability to decide promotions internally
Earlier: Graphic showing the dissolution plan for the Royal Thai Police
Earlier: 55% of Thais want to see the Police Commission and Royal Thai Police dissolved
Earlier: In wake of arrests of police untouchables, police chief vows to clean the organization
Earlier: August 7, 2014: The era of the independent (and politicized) Thai police is over

Also: How the military coup finally brought law and order to chaotic Phuket

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LINE Is Testing a $2 Per Month Music Streaming Service in Thailand

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Messaging App Firm Line Is Testing A $2 Per Month Music Streaming Service – Tech Crucnh, May 21, 2015
…Line Music is being trialled in Thailand, where Line has carried out a series of other pilots related to its shift into value-added services. The app is available for iOS and Android and is integrated into the chat app to allow users to share songs with Line friends, or post to their timeline inside the app…

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13 years ago: Waterboarded 83 times at CIA prison in Thailand

The story of Abu Zubaydah, waterboarded 83 times in Thailand

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Petition the King?

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From Manager, May 5, 2015
Jatuporn: I will petition to the King in the case of closing Peace TV!!
On his shirt: Overthrow the elite.
On paper: A petition, Subject: To petition to the King on the case of closing Peace TV
[Refers to Red Shirt Peace TV which was taken off the air by the junta. The cartoon ridicules Jatuporn’s threat to petition the monarchy over the closure considering the Red Shirts’ history of threats and slurs against both “aristocrats” and the monarchy.]

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From Komchadluek, May 7, 2015
A toad: I will petition the UN!!
[Refers to the ban of the Red Shirt’s Peace TV. Afterwards, the Red Shirts submitted a petition to the U.N. to call for help. The cartoonist ridicules Jatuporn (often illustrated as a toad) over this petition.]

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We’re designing our own democracy.

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From Komchadluek, May 4, 2015
Uncle Sam: Hey… What is your country drawing?
Artist: We’re designing our own democracy.
[This is a good perception that Thai have that the U.S. is intervening in Thailand’ internal affairs. The U.S. has called on the junta government to promptly hold election in order to return to democracy. However, the junta has countered that they will “reform” the country first.
More on Thai perceptions of U.S. call for quick elections]

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10 Years Ago: Thaksin closes community radio stations

A tale of two newspapers: Thaksin closes community radio

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5 Years Ago: Snipers on the Skytrain Tracks

Snipers on the Skytrain Tracks

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Afraid of Chavalit as PM again

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From Thairath, May 5, 2015
Left: Jiew has already started to help Big Tu [PM Prayuth] on restoring the economy. It helps the influx of fund into our country. Traders are happy.
Middle: Pooyai Ma: How does Jiew help?
A man: He just said he will come back to be the PM for his second time.
Right: People’re frightened so they has started buying rice and dried food. They’re afraid to be under the IMF for a second time.

[Refers to the latest political movement of former PM Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh whose nickname is Jiew. He visited with various Red Shirts political groups and specter of an upcoming appearance on the Red Shirt Peace TV channel resulted in the station being shut down by the junta.
His reappearance as a Red Shirt spokesperson has raised concerns that he may reenter politics again.
The cartoon refers to his tenure as PM when his incompetence caused the baht to crash and sparked the Asian economic crisis. Thailand was forced to accept a bailout by the IMF which put severe strain on the economy.
More about Chavalit]

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Lottery ticket selling price

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From Manager, May 3, 2015
Blind man: Even if you torture me until I die, I still insist that I can’t sell at 80 baht… The cost is 100 baht… I prefer to die rather than receive a loss on selling.
On a lottery selling bag: Lottery 120 Baht
Caption: Forcing this man… torturing until he dies… you still can’t sell at 80 baht.
[Refer to the attempt of the junta government to solve the problem of alleged overpricing of the lottery. Like many of the issues of illegality that junta supporters hope the military can solve with its absolute power, the resolution of this problem plays into the hands of the Red Shirts who contend it is an example of the aristocrats hurting peasants.]

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12 Years Ago: Press freedom downgraded from ‘free’ to ‘partially free’

Press freedom downgraded from ‘free’ to ‘partially free’

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More than one version of the constitution?

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From Komchadluek, May 3, 2015
Gen. Chavalit: The draft constitution shall have one… two… three… versions.
[Refers to former PM Gen. Chavalit who suggested that the government draft more than one version of the constitution in case if the first draft is not approved.]

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Thai people have to pay for their stupidity… again

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From Thairath, May 1, 2015
Title: Thai people have to pay for their stupidity… again.
Bowornsak: Just use it for five years. Then, when the politics is stabilized, we can revise it again.
On the constitution platter above the man’s head: Constitution ’58 [2015]
On sign held by man with glasses: Succession of work not succession of power
On chair: Establishment of the regime
On fat man: Bureaucratic polity
In circle: Accept it first, revise it later
On paper: Constitution ’50 [1997]
On a sword: Revise… must be dismissed
Phi Nooring: Revise the Constitution immediately
[Refers to the new constitution drafted by the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) headed by Bowornsak Uwanno. Various groups, such as political parties, have disagreed with the draft and called for its revising. The draft constitution is concerned to be a tool to transfer the power of the junta government. This catalogs the Red Shirt viewpoint to the constitutional drafting process–power is flowing to bureaucrats and people are being pressured to accept the draft now.]

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5 Years Ago: Aftermath of the Red Shirt Protests

Red Protests – May 22-23, 2010

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The clown comes too late

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From Manager, April 30, 2015
On the screen: Stopped airing.
Chavalit Yongjiyut dressed as a clown: I’ve heard that your channel is looking for a comedian who can make audiences laugh.
Caption: The comedian comes too late.
[Refers to the Red Shirt TV station Peace TV. Recently, it was shut down by the junta for being a threat to national security. It was likely the involvement of Chavalit with the station caused the closes. Chavalit was being used by the Red Shirts (and thus, Thaksin) to claim that the armed forces were split in their support for the junta. More about this here.
In the cartoon, Red shirt leaders exit the TV, including Thida, Nattawut and Jatuporn.]

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Minimum wage

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From Manager, May 4, 2015
Left: Man 1: What do you do?
Man 2: I’m looking for a new job because my boss refused to increase my salary so I quit.
Middle: Man 1: I’m also looking for the new job.
Man 2: What did you do?
Right: I used to be a [business] owner who had to close a factory because I couldn’t bear the minimum wage of workers.
[Refers to the latest call from the labor organizations to increase the minimum wage from 300 baht to 360 baht per day. This reflects the fear of Thai factory owners that the populist promises of the Pheu Thai have made Thailand too expensive to serve as a production hub when compared neighboring countries.]

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12 Years Ago: Democrats to self-destruct?

Democrats to self-destruct?

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Considering a human as inhuman

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From Thairath, May 6, 2015
Title: Considering a human as inhuman. Only see them as the slaves and goods…!
On corpse: Rohingya
Mouse: Trying to escape from hardship to a better place.
Phi Nooring: Facing hell on earth.
[Refers to the discovery of Rohingya corpses in the south of Thailand.]

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Thailand, one year on…

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Khon Kaen: Students Set to be Charged for Anniversary Protest of the Coup – isaanrecord.com, May 22, 2015

Bangkok: 38 students arrested after staging a symbolic anti-coup protest in front of the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre – Bangkok Post, May 23, 2015

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Above: Foreign Policy quickly had a change of heart and switched the title of their article, although it is still in their url…

The Strongman of Siam – FP, May 21, 2015
…In other words, Thailand’s latest military father figure may well find his “children” growing restless.
[This is a typical filler article on Thailand that was being written by other international publications months ago. It features quotes by professional dissidents, attempts to show Prayuth is growing insane and that the military’s grip on power is slipping, and, of course, a warning that resistance will grow.]

One year of NCPO’s rule: civilians on trial by military court – Thai PBS, May 22, 2015
…Anurak was reported to have raised his three fingers, a symbolic sign of defiance against the coup, at Terminal 21 shopping mall. He was bound in his hands and his head covered in a hood as he was escorted by military personnel into a sedan toward a military barrack for interrogation. After that he was held at the detention cell of the Crime Suppression Division police for five days before he was charged in the military court…

Thailand: Deepening Repression One Year After Coup – HRW, May 22, 2015

Thailand one year later: Stable but stuck? – CNBC, May 22, 2015

The Year of Living Crazily: Thailand One Year After the Coup – http://thediplomat.com, May 21, 2015
…It may seem like just a cruel joke, but the reality is tragic. Thailand has become a military dictatorship enforcing authoritarian rule. Its prime minister is an army general who chairs a junta, whose military has a record of committing human rights abuses. There is no reason to believe that any of this is going to improve in the near term without strong international pressure from Thailand’s democratic allies – countries like the United States, European Union countries, and Japan…

Even theater reviews: Thailand’s Banned ‘King’ – NYT, May 19, 2015

Earlier:

Yesterday: More from the international media: After Yingluck court appearance & election delay, foreign media unloads on junta

Yesterday: One Year Ago: Another Coup in Thailand

Yesterday: Is it a mistake for the military to tackle land encroachment?

Yesterday: Thaksin says Privy Council ordered Suthep to protest & the military to stage a coup

For some perspective on what is going on (rather than just reading the same article over and over that states Prayuth is an insane dictator):
May 10: Everyone loves Section 44
April 10: Charter drafters firm on preventing ‘one-man rule’
April 2: Was Gen. Prayuth really unable to answer a “gutsy” foreign reporter?
February 24: Download a free chapter from The Thai Book, A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations: Big Men Always Go Too Far
February 13: Four years of rule for PM Pryauth?
January 31: U.S. Criticism, the Junta’s Reply, and the Fate of Pheu Thai Party
January 23: The Yingluck Ruling in Context
December 22: Forbes: “Thailand’s Military Junta Destroys Democracy, Enjoys Exercising Power: Generals Postpone Elections Before Rigging Them”
September 11: Is Gen. Prayuth really growing “eccentric” or “superstitious” as Time Magazine claims?

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The new US Ambassador to Thailand reads the book “Four Reigns”

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From Thairath, April 29, 2015
Left: The new US Ambassador to Thailand reads the book “Four Reigns.” To understand Thai society, he needs to read another book too…
Middle: Thai man: Then, he will deeply understand Thai democracy.
Foreigner: Which one?
Right: “Si Thanon Chai”

[“The Four Reigns” is a classic Thai novel written by former Thai PM Kukrit Pramoj. The book helps the readers to understand deeply about Thai society through various periods. Meanwhile, “Sri Thanonchai” is a famous folk tale about a man who uses his wit and tricks to deal with problems. Thailand here is humorously compared to Sri Thanonchai because of its ability to adjust to get through difficult situations.]

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12 Years Ago: The gangs that control motorcycle taxis

The gangs that control motorcycle taxis

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Thaksin says Privy Council ordered Suthep to protest & the military to stage a coup

Above: From Daily News, February 12, 2012

Thaksin raps coup ‘masterminds’ – Bangkok Post, May 22, 2015
…Thaksin said in the interview that he and his younger sister Yingluck ended up being treated the same way. “I’ve told prime minister Poo that what happened to her is exactly the same as what happened to me,” he said.
Poo is Ms Yingluck’s nickname.
“The armed forces might admire Myanmar-style democracy. But it’s over in Myanmar,” he said in the interview, which was conducted in Thai…

[Privy Councilor Prem Tinsulanonda has long been held up to Thaksin’s supporters as the ultimate villain in his repeated downfalls. The Red Shirt calls to overthrow and slay “aristocrats” are meant to show they are unafraid of facing down the Privy Council and all it represents. As recently as 2013, the idea was floated that the Privy Council should be reorganized as part of Pheu Thai moves to strip power from organizations that could impede the activities of an elected government.

When prime minster in the 1980s, Prem faced down two unsuccessful coups from the so-called “Young Turks”–ambitious officers that not only were trying to overthrow the government, but top army officers as well.

Many key figures in modern politics were players during that time–Chavalit Yongjiyut (who put down the Young Turks coup in Bangkok), Manoonkrit Roopkachorn (elected to the senate after being disqualified for buying votes, he allowed the investigation against Constitution Court judges who inexplicably ruled for Thaksin in his asset concealment case), and Ekkayuth Anchanbutr (financier of the Young Turks clique and financial scammer who became an arch-Thaksin critic and later died under uncertain circumstances).

As former prime minister, Prem maintained enormous power after leaving office and is credited with ending both the Communist and separatist Muslim insurgencies in the Thai Deep South.

Thaksin’s statements targeting the Privy Council and criticizing the junta, made as he strategically emerges in Seoul as Yingluck appears in court, indicate he is not giving up the struggle for political power.]

Prem and the Privy Council rarely figure in international media accounts of Thai politician turmoil, but he is a staple of the Thai media:

2005: Privy Council president rebukes Thaksin
2007: Thaksin’s First Target: UDD Surprise Raid on Privy Council President’s House
2007: Banners Encouraging Prem
2009: Red Shirt Publications: It’s all about Prem!
2012: Thaksin: Thai King’s Advisers Key to Lese-Majeste Reform
2012: Yingluck attempts detente with Privy Council President Prem
2012: Red Shirt Publications: Prem Named as Coup Leader
2012: Thai editorial cartoon: How to Explain the Prem Meeting to the Red Shirts
2012: Thai editorial cartoon: Thaksin Confuses His Buffaloes
2012: Thai editorial cartoon: Prem Attacks the Government
2014: Thai editorial cartoon: Who is stronger? Prem or Prawit?

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No barking… no fighting… or even threatening…

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From Manager, April 28, 2015
Lizard: See what a human does!! Once they enter the parliament, they absolutely destroy our standard… See, no barking… no fighting… or even threatening… because they do like this, our image in parliament is damaged.
Caption: If former owners see this… they may be upset.

[The cartoon compares old politicians to animals who create a bad image for parliament through their actions. Represented are the Democrat Party (the cockroach), known for their attempts in 2013 to physically prevent the Pheu Thai from passing constitutional amendments without debate.
Also represented are the traditional “dangerous animals” used to indicate power people who are dangerous to be around.
Beyond this, for decades now the Thai parliament has been the venue for crass provincial men to threaten each other while using foul language. Chalerm Yoobangrung, in particular, is famous for his profane (and some allege, drunken) harangues that make televised sessions of parliament unfit viewing for children.
The cartoonist contrasts this with the civil and serene “debates” of the junta’s puppet parliament that has produced reforms that threaten the prerogatives of Thai politicians.]

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Stop Meddling, President Obama

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From Manager, May 7, 2015
President Obama: What should we do… Thailand doesn’t want to become a democracy?
[The cartoon shows a Thai viewpoint towards U.S. statements calling for quick elections. It shows that, while President Obama is supposedly trying to intervene in the internal affairs of Thailand, the U.S. is the scene of riots protesting injustice there.]

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Several ways for the Thai police to earn their living

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From Manager, April 27, 2015
Title: Several ways for the Thai police to earn their living
Top left: Set up the check-points to collect money [Thai police set up check-points to extort money from people who are violate rules, such as driving when drinking. Most people prefer to pay money to the police as a bribe to end the cases or avoid being ticketed.]
Top right: Guard the massage clubs… guard the gambling den.
On posters in the left and middle: Bathing sauna massage
On a sign in the right: Mr. Kor gambling den.
[Police are often assigned to protect illegal businesses, such as massages parlors or gambling dens.]
Bottom left: Receive money for helping a position promotion.
[Refers to the custom in the Thai police of paying for a promotion.]
Bottom right: Eating the temple’s chicken.
In a red box: New!
[Refers to Thai idiom “an abbot eats the temple’s chicken” meaning as “the boss has the affair with his female staff.” The cartoon refers to the recently case related to the National Police Chief Somyot Pumpanmuang. He recently denied the rumors that he had an affair with a female subordinate who was murdered by her husband.]

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