Chuwit memes – The power of change

Since the coup, political gadfly Chuwit Kamolvisit has been using Photoshop to create humorous graphics about the political situation. Many of these have become memes widely circulated in Thai-language social media.

Above: Real life is different from a book. [Chuwit holds Suthep's book, "The Power of Change"]
Gen. Prayuth has shifted from the Army’s Commander-in-Chief to become prime minister;
Suthep [leader of the anti-amnesty protests] from a politician to a monk [Suthep went into the monkhood recently];
While Sondhi [founder of the anti-Thaksin PAD] has changed from a journalist to prisoner [Sondhi was jailed after a ruling on a fraud case].
It must be “The Power of Change”.

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Thai Land’s Ku Klux Klan hey…hey…!

From Thairath, August 18, 2014
Cartoon title: Thai Land’s Ku Klux Klan hey…hey…!
On the KKK men’s hats, from left: NLA [National Legislative Assembly]; NFA [National Reform Assembly]; CDC [Constitution Drafting Committee]
Sign in hands of the CDC: Thailand’s reform, loathing politicians
Phi Nooring: Don’t do it with a discriminatory attitude
Mouse: Want democracy back.
[Pro-Thaksin and pro-Red Shirt cartoonists are slowing becoming more confident again in their criticisms. Here Sia points out the apparent anti-elected politician attitude that has become prominent in the new government.]

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Chuwit memes – Old virtue

Since the coup, political gadfly Chuwit Kamolvisit has been using Photoshop to create humorous graphics about the political situation. Many of these have become memes widely circulated in Thai-language social media.

Above: Old virtue [behind si the iconic tower of Thammasat University]
[There is a Thai saying "benefiting from a person's old virtue" which means a person can live well at the present time because of what he inherited and not what he has done. This seems to refer to the rector of Thammasat University who has supported the coup and been the target of anonymous posters put up at the school. More on this here.]

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They are all the same

From Manager, August 19, 2014
Green bean: Mr. Spokesman… I am the Long Green Bean… from… the province…
Caption: Who said this NLA [National Legislative Assembly] has a lack of variety?
[Meaning the NLA's members are only superficially different. In fact they are obedient and handpicked to fulfill a function for the military junta.]

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One Year Ago: Pheu Thai Tries Its Own Reform Council

One Year Ago: Pheu Thai Tries Its Own reform Council

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10 Years Ago: Thaksin firms try to crush censure debate criticism with billion baht lawsuit

10 Years Ago: Thaksin firms try to crush censure debate criticism with billion baht lawsuit

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One year ago: New York Times corrects opinion article about Thailand

One year ago: New York Times corrects opinion article about Thailand

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Every applicant is valuable

From Manager, August 18, 2014
Man: Khun Leena Jung… please… don’t withdraw… It’s hard to find any applicants now… please…
On wall: NFA [National Reform Assembly] application
Caption: When needed… every applicant is valuable.

[Leena Jungjanja is a businesswoman and former candidate for Bangkok governor in 2004 (when she was disqualified for dancing while campaigning), 2008 (when she famously fell into a klong while campaigning) and 2009.
She ran for senator in 2014 and was barred from politics for five years for a campaign promise to lower the price of petrol to 20 baht per liter--something that is not in the purview of supposedly neutral senators. This also barred her from the National Reform Assembly.
She is the female version of the more common "boisterous Thai man." This sort of person is an iconoclast who constantly seeks attention by opposing or criticizing everyone. Leena has attacked Thaksin, the Red Shirts, and now the coup.
This cartoon makes a joke of early reports that few people wanted to apply for membership in the National Reform Assembly, suggesting that the desperate assembly might even want a politician like Leena who no one takes seriously.]

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Travel Singburi, Land of Harmony and Sacrifice

The billboard reads: Travel Singburi, Land of Harmony and Sacrifice
Bottom right corner: the Monument of Bangrachan Patriots

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Nine Years Ago: Thaksin Allies Try to Takeover Matichon & the Bangkok Post

Nine Years Ago: Thaksin Allies Try to Takeover Matichon and the Bangkok Post

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Weekly News Magazines, August 22, 2014

Nation Weekend_22 Aug 2014

From Nation Weekend, August 22, 2014
Cover reads: Premier ‘Too’, from Warrior of the East to Government House
[Reference is to new role of Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha as the 29th Prime Minister of Thailand. His nickname is "Too." He is a member of the "Eastern Tigers," a group of top officers opposed to Thaksin.]

Matichon Weekly_22 Aug 2014

From Matichon Weekly, August 22, 2014
Cover reads: Tiger with ‘wings’
[Reference is to Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who was appointed Thailand's 29th prime minister by the National Legislative Assembly. As a member of the Eastern Tigers, he has taken flight to reach the highest office in the land.]

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The Democracy Returning Team

From Thairath, August 16, 2014
Cartoon title: The Democracy Returning Team, Sir
On document: Certifying Thailand’s reform
Stamp on the left: NLA [National Legislative Assembly; the man on the NLA rubber stamp is Pornpet Vichitcholchai, the assembly's spokesman]
Stamp on the right: NRA [National Reform Assembly]
Phi Nooring: Write the rules carefully.
Mouse: [We want] Justice back.
[This cartoon insinuates that the two military-appointed groupings will be rubber stamps for the military's reforms of the political system.]

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Let’s share the cake

From Thairath, August 13, 2014
Cartoon title: Let’s share the cake
On suit of man on the left: Civil servants
On suit of man on the right: NLA [National Legislative Assembly]
On the cake: 2015 budget
Phi Nooring: Think about the maximum benefits.
Mouse: Share it with the people.
[This reflects the fear that the handpicked military assembly will curry favor with civil servants by gorging themsleves on the national budget.]

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Imposing a curfew is really not democratic

From a graphic circulated on social media: The U.S. isn’t democratic. Imposing a curfew is really not democratic–just like what Ambassador Kristie said.
[This is ridiculing U.S. calls, made by U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney, for quick elections and the lifting of martial law in Thailand and contrasting these statements with rioting in the United States.]

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A trick?

From Komchadluek, August 12, 2014
The words read: Suppression of corruption
[The cartoon shows the concern over the suppression of corruption. People are happy with the junta’s performance on suppressing corruption and enforcing laws that the police formerly ignored. However, it is thought that much of this "law and order" campaign is simply a trick to curry the favor of the public and not a real desire to suppress law-breaking.]

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“Women in national legislative assembly no cause for alarm”

If you have seen BK Magazine over the last few weeks you might have read the sarcasm directed at the junta and its handpicked assembly. Above is from the August 14 issue.
Interestingly, the short, humorous pieces are apparently not online.

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The story of the VIP

From Arun, August 14, 2014
Title: The story of the VIP; Thai Airways executive’s transport allowance is 43.38 million baht a year… DD [flight code for executives] is requesting to cut this 20% while the Union has to reduce 50%.
On a man’s suit: Executives
[This cartoon criticizes on the Thai Airways’ spending for its executives. The airline has recently decided to reduce the executives’ transport allowances to tackle losses.]

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Chuwit memes – Insider wants out, outsider wants in

Since the coup, political gadfly Chuwit Kamolvisit has been using Photoshop to create humorous graphics about the political situation. Many of these have become memes widely circulated in Thai-language social media.

Above: Insider wants out, outsider wants in
["Insider" refers to anti-Thaksin campigner Sondhi Limthongkul, who was sentenced to prison for corruption. It is assumed, that like most Thai "big men" he is not willing to serve time for his crimes and wishes to flee abroad and live in luxury. "Outsider" refers to Thaksin Shinawatra who fled Thailand due to corruption charge. However, since his ouster as prime minister in 2006, he has been desperately trying to find a way to reenter the country and return to politics.]

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Eight years ago: Countdown to the 2006 coup

Countdown to the 2006 coup

* Thai Rak Thai “will bring millions to city”

* Random bombings

* Public beatings

* Prem leads army top brass in show of unity

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Thai-language Newspaper Headlines on the Military Prime Minister

From ASTVManager, August 22, 2014
Top right: NLA [National Legislative Assembly] gave landslide votes to support Prayuth, immediately submit name of the premier to the King; Speedily form new cabinet in line with road map
Middle left: Another death! Japanese student, victim of a drunken Thai driver; FM [Foreign Minsiter] monitors the case closely
Middle right: Finance-Energy take the ball, performing alchemy, to run PTT’s pipeline separately; demands for release of energy reform’s leaders [This means that the Finance and Energy Ministries, in response to the junta's policy, ordered PTT to establish a new company to run the gas pipeline business which is considered a national asset and not part of PTT's value for its upcoming listing on the stock exchange. PTT has been allegedly dragging its feet and responded by filing a lawsuit against people protesting against it. More here: Prayuth seeks quick end to PTT dispute.]
Bottom: Scandalous! Thai women infected with Ebola, PH instantly denied claiming an investigation is needed

From Komchadluek, August 22, 2014
Main headline: NLA 191 landslide votes: Prime Minister named Too [nickname of Prayuth]
Bottom left: Pornpet submits the name to the King, the man [Pryauth] said no worry about his new duties
Bottom right: Private sector supports Prayuth, continuously unlocking economy, await new cabinet
In blue frame: Young Prayuth Noh. Doh. 8969, the Nual Noradis Temple [school] [profile of the new PM's past]

From Krungthep Turakit, August 22, 2014
Main headline: Business confident [that Pryauth is] taking the country out of crisis; NLA’s unanimous vote of 191, submitting Prayuth’s name to the King
Bottom: Boonyasit worried 2nd-half [of the year's] purchasing power hard to revive

From Matichon, August 22, 2014
Top, in red: Southern rubber planters threaten big mob–7 day deadline [rubber planters in the south are demanding the government urgently tackle falling rubber prices]
In frame on the left: Barging Petchaboon, ‘surrogate’ mother fled; Dr. ‘Pisit’ contacted to see police on Sept. 6
Main headline: NLA’s unanimous, 191 votes; Big Too ready, not worried about taking the premier’s office; Pornpet submits [Pryauth as PM] to the King; Finance’s permanent-secretary’s fingers crossed, await economic team expecting to recover confidence; 3 candidates for Labor, ‘Big Chat’s mentor’ outstanding [We are not sure who Big Chat is.]
At bottom: Arrested, seized assets of ‘Sua Roj’ drug gang

From Thaipost, August 22, 2014
Top: Panic! Ebola infected, ‘PH’ denies [it is ebola], saying it is only hives [PH is the Public Health Ministry]
Top left: Abhisit afraid of missing the trend, accepts the ice-bucket challenge
Main headline: Provoking anti-Prayuth [sentiment], ‘unlawful freedom’, some opposed to his premiership, Pornpet already submitted [Prayuth's name] to the King
Right: EC [Election Commission] emphasizes no specification for NRA selection [refers to the selection of member of the constitution-drafting body]

From Thairath, August 22, 2014
Main headline: Landslide votes for ‘Big Too’, the 29th Prime Minister, name was submitted [to the King], holding another seat in Defense [meaning Pryauth will likely act as Defense Minister as well]
From top: Investigating teacher doing students’ homework for pay; Education jumps [takes action quickly], orders disciplinary punishment indicating [the teacher was] copying the actions of a senior [Meaning the offending teacher is copying the actions of those higher up at the school. This indicates such corruption is widespread and institutionalized at the school.]
Arrested more bank robbers claiming have to do it for out of jobs
Ungrateful grandchild, killed grandparents in bed, bought a gun and shot one by one, revenge for being scolded for being useless
PH monitors Thai women return from Liberia [PH is the Public Health Ministry.]

From Daily News, August 23, 2014
Main headline: Empower fortune to welcome Premier Prayuth, planting yellow Ixora [a type of flower] at Government House, announced to move the country forward [it has become a tradition for each new administration to improve the Government House's Feng Sui ordering new plantings around the building, this "empowers fortune" to favor the new government]
Middle left: Sent to quarantine room, Thai woman suspected of being infected with Ebola, PH announced no disease, ordered to take care of relatives and close contacts [PH is the Public Health Ministry.]
Bottom left: Snatched and ran, ‘karma’ on a rocket, the thief rode into a pole and died [meaning a thief snatched a purse and rode off quickly on a motorcycle, but ran into a cement pole]
Bottom right: Collided, 4 deaths, 7 injured; Grape-loaded truck collided with public coach, tragically young construction contractor had no chance to see his new-born baby
At bottom: Barged into 4 villages for surrogacy [meaning the investigation of the surrogacy scandal has moved to several villages where women were carrying babies for hire]

From Khaosod, August 23, 2014
Top: PH quarantined Thai woman-suspected of Ebola [PH is the Public Health Ministry.]
Main headline: Big Too announced not to worry about him being PM, waiting for the royal appointment; NLA unanimous, 191 votes, ordered to improve Government House’s Feng Sui by planting colorful Gardenia–yellow Ixora, Surat rubber planters threaten–demand [government] to solve the plummeting prices
Bottom right: Saudi envoy left without schedule to return

From Matichon, August 23, 2014
Top right: Foreign Ministry insisted Saudi did not downgrade diplomatic relations, [diplomat] just returns to his country
In frame above main headline: Southern rubber planters give NCPO a deadline in 7 days to solve the plummeting prices–threatening that they will hold a big mob [protest]
Main headline: ‘Big Too’ ready for the Premiership, no worry; NAL voted 191; Pornpet submitted the name to the King; Renovating Government House; Finance’s permanent-secretary await the economic team expecting to build confidence; Army’s big shots expected to control Labor
In frame next to main headline: Crowds of people line up at Booth 12 hospitals, Matichon Health Care vigorous
In frame under main headline: Seized assets of ‘Sua Roj’ drug gang, trafficking from the North to Big Bike gang

From Thaipost, August 22-23, 2014
Headline: A vendor weeps after being burglarized 8 times..p. 3
Sign reads: Dear all individuals and groups of thieves. This house doesn’t have any assets left to be stolen any more… this year 8 times. Please stop breaking windows, cutting the curved steels [windows bars], prying and breaking doors. We cannot keep up with finding money to have it fixed now.

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Eight years ago: The car bomb targeting Thaksin

Eight years ago: The car bomb targeting Thaksin

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10 Years Ago: Thaksin Praised for His pro-GMO Stance

10 Years Ago: Thaksin Praised for His pro-GMO Stance

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You don’t have to ask me…

From Manager, August 5, 2014
Caption: It’s that clear!
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha: You don’t have to ask me what criteria I used in selecting members of these two assemblies.
Left: NLA [National Legislative Assembly]
Right: NRA [National Reform Assembly]
[The meaning is that the hand-picked bodies will do anything Gen. Prayuth orders them to.]

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10 Years Ago: Fear of Thaksin Lawsuits: Press Struggles to Mention Senate Voting to Benefit Shin Corp

10 Years Ago: Fear of Thaksin Lawsuits: Press Struggles to Mention Senate Voting to Benefit Shin Corp

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Remembering Thaksin as PM: Thaksin surprises reporters with X sign

PM sets off weekly meet with press

Thaksin surprises reporters with X sign

From the Thai-language press: Reactions to Thaksin’s ‘X’

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Chuwit memes – Thaksin and Sondhi

Since the coup, political gadfly Chuwit Kamolvisit has been using Photoshop to create humorous graphics about the political situation. Many of these have become memes widely circulated in Thai-language social media.

From top: Thaksin [Shinawatra] cannot return to Thailand. Sondhi [Limthongkul, owner of the ASTV Manager Group] cannot leave Thailand.
[Sondhi] Drove Thaksin out because of corruption, yet he himself has to be behind bars because of corruption cases.
Beginning to be scared as a new monk in Surat now.
[This pokes fun at the similarities between the plights of enemies Thaksin and Sondhi.]

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Anonymous Posters at Thammasat University

Left sign reads: Oh Somkid, NCPO is here. [Somkid Lertpaithoon is the current Rector of Thammasat University.]
NLA brothers, don’t be disharmonious.
Just one lawsuit, still, you don’t try to protect.
The salary paid to you comes from many sources.
The salary paid to you comes from many sources.
Middle sign reads: Democracy; Thai people are equal.
Right sign: “Don’t make this coup wasteful.” (Somkid Lertpaithoon) [showing that the rector is cooperating with those who conducted the coup]

These are the anonymous signs ridiculing the Thammasat University rector’s support of the post-coup government (Anonymous Posters at Thammasat University Denounce Pro-Coup University Rector).
Thammasat University students have played a historic role in resisting dictatorships and military governments of the past and academics there are among the few in the country willing to openly discuss issues like the relevance of the monarchy in Thailand. Protest and sacrifice are part of the history and pride of the university.
These anonymous postings are meant to show the hypocrisy of the rector this university cooperating with the coup plotters. However, it is uncertain how widespread this sentiment actually is.
In the past, there has been little student interest in supporting Thaksin-directed governments and their struggles to maintain power. From time to time the Red Shirt movement has either claimed student activists supported Thaksin or openly complained that students were not marching for the cause as they did for democracy movements of the past.

Sign: Upholding this standpoint is like an armor protecting the honor of the university. In the past, Thammasat University always played the outstanding role in leading the fight. Until today, it seems that you admire the undemocratic power…

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WOW! Thailand’s first tunnel under the Chao Phraya River is underway

Country’s first river tunnel below Chao Phraya River is underway – ThaiPBS, August 22, 2014
The ‘Blue Line’ subway train route which will extend the existing line from Sanam Chai – Tha Phra is making progress with now a tunnel is being bored underneath the Chao Phraya river…

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Chuwit memes – Chuwit’s advice

Since the coup, political gadfly Chuwit Kamolvisit has been using Photoshop to create humorous graphics about the political situation. Many of these have become memes widely circulated in Thai-language social media.

Above: Members of the National Legislative and National Reform Assemblies [bodies being formed by the junta to reform politics], no matter what your backgrounds are, I ask for just one thing. Don’t do what these people did.
[Refers to the many, many incidents of ill behavior in parliament over the years including members playing games on iPads, showing the sole of a shoe to another member (this is an insulting gesture), looking at porn photos, and a Democrat member of parliament who threw a chair to protest Pheu Thai parliamentary maneuvers.]

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The rubbish talks back

From Thairath, August 1, 2014
Rubbish: You can’t clean up this place because the interim constitution doesn’t give you power to do so.
On the rubbish: Politicians who lost their power
On the rubbish truck: NCPO

[In the cartoon, Gen. Prayuth, head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), is attempting to clean up persistent problems caused by politicians. This sort of attitude toward the elected--that they act for themselves without thought of the greater good--is a prominent Thai assumption, not just an attitude of the "elite."
This is key to understanding and predicting in the Thai world--especially for Westerners who see elections as a solution for political strife.
The nature of the Thai political system--depending on the intervention of the military or the monarchy in times of political crisis--encourages political parties to grab all the spoils they can while knowing that eventually they will be eased out of power.
The 1997 constitution was designed to remove the necessity of extra-electoral powers like the military and monarchy from having to intervene. The constitution created independent organizations and authorities like the auditor general and the election commission to oversee government actions.
However, the Thai Rak Thai Party reacted strongly against this and attempted at every turn to dismantle these checks and balances, citing their unfairness.
Thai Rak Thai's successor parties like the People Power Party and the Pheu Thai even more openly vowed to rewrite the constitution to remove the power of independent organizations and the courts from having sway over an elected government's actions.
The gutting of the checks in the 1997 constitution and the years of political strife since then has now had the effect of returning Thailand to its pre-1992 political state--a marginally-democratic system dominated by a handful of "big men" who make deals behind closed doors and who are closely checked by the firm, and often overbearing, hand of the military.]

2Bangkok.com Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.

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