Jul 2nd, 2020

I can’t breathe Thai style

From Manager, June 8, 2020
Caption: Thai police don’t use a knee to compress the neck.

[Refers to the case of George Floyd in the U.S., and seems to contend Thai police have other methods of bullying common people. Does anyone know what the plow and iron refer to in the cartoon?]

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I love cobras

From Naewna, June 13, 2020
Sudarat: I hate to raise a cobra.
On the pot close to Sudarat: Pao Thai
On the pot close to Thanathorn: Kaothalai

[Refers to the term “cobra” to mean a person who betrays their group or switches allegiances. It is most commonly used to refer to a politician who betrays their party and moves to other parties for their own benefit.
The cartoonist illustrates an ironic action of Phua Thai’s Sudarat who always said she dis not like cobras. However, her party was alleged to have paid money to attract politicians from the Kaokai (Move Forward Party) established by former Future Forward party led by Thanathorn.
The cartoonist ridicules the parties’ names. He calls the Phua Thai Party the “Pao Thai” as a reference to Thaksin’s Red Shirt agitation in the past and the arson that resulted as “Pao” means “burn.”
The text on the pot close to Thanathorn is “Kaothalai.” It mocks the name of the former Future Forward Party named “Kaokai” or “Moving Forward.” In the cartoon, instead of “Kaokai,” it is “Kaothalai” meaning “slipping.” So instead of using “Kao” (walk or step), it is “Kaothalai” (slipping).]

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Buffet government again

From Naewna, June 4, 2020
Caption: The war of four legs in PALANGPRACHARATH PARTY.
On the dog: PPRP [abbreviation of Palangpracharath party.)

From Thairath, June 4, 2020
Title: Exercise as an appetizer.
Prayuth: One million million loan to restore [the nation] after covid-19
On chairs: PPRP [abbreviation of Palangpracharath party.]
On suits: PPRP [abbreviation of Palangpracharath party.]
Mouse man: Splitting the chairs [the payment] on the special meal.
Mouse: Will not starve.

[Massive spending has always been key to government stability as MPs and MP groupings typically have little ideological leanings. In most cases, they are groupings of regionally based tycoons, power brokers, mafia types (and their offspring) who have banded together to promote their own interests and that of their clans.
Governments always take any opportunity to spend big and those who can control ministries can reap the benefits of overpriced spending and kickbacks which are a ubiquitous part of the Thai world.
In these cartoons, the cartoonists note that the present spending, done under the cover of the pandemic and the emergency decree, has even less oversight that usual.
This has caused massive riffs in the government coalition as cabinet seats are coveted to be able to control this windfall.
The situation has even caused the Phea Thai to further fracture since a party cannot remain on the outside of controlling such large amounts and survive for long.
Adding to this is that the government’s conduct during the pandemic has created a groundswell against the military-led coalition.
All politicians are looking to a future where they can be positioned to be a part of a government both acceptable to the voters and acceptable to a military which has clearly singled it has the resolve to prevent a Thaksin-controlled or Future Forward-type party from gaining control of government.
This will lead to a future government that will not be able to be clearly labelled in one way or another. It will be a stew of non-ideological figures. This is a return to the “buffet cabinets” of Thailand’s boom years before Thaksin and the 1997 people’s charter when personality-based political cliques formed governments and were held together by government spending that ultimately rewarded those in power.]

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Stole minister’s seats!

From Manager June 16, 2020
Left, on sign: Palang Pracharath
Left: Stole minister’s seats!
Left, running men: Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana (acting party leader) and Paiboon Nititawan, acting deputy party leader are being chased by Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin
Right, on sign: Democrat
Right: Have a lot of free time… So, don’t know what to do.
Right, running men: Commence Minister Jurin laksanawisit (party leader) and Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on being chased by Thepthai Senapong and Sathi Wongnhongtoey
Caption: The reason for starting to overthrow party’s leader.

[Refers to the intense internal conflict in the Palang Pracharath party and the Democrat party. There are many factions inside these parties and each of the groups is racing to control various ministries due to the mammoth spending bill the government has approved.
The joke is that there is really no reason for a cabinet reshuffle now as the country is in the midst of the pandemic. The cartoonist implies that the politicians’ priorities are getting control of the vast amounts of money that will be spent.]

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Fracturing parties

From Naewna, May 28, 2020
Left: We will survive if we stick together. Otherwise, we will die.
Right: If we are together and do nothing, then we should separate even it will cause us to die.
Caption: From now on, we are not going to attend the funeral even one or the other dies.

[Refers to the intense conflict within the Phea Thai party as Thaksin supposedly attempts to reassert influence as new parties and factions are forming and the “Progressive Movement” gains traction with the public.
The cartoon shows a separation of the letters that make up the party’s logo–“PT.” Here the “P” (พ) and “T” (ท) are walking away from each other.
We think the caption plays on the Thai idiom, “Even if you die, we will not attend the funeral” meaning that there exists hate and an unforgiving attitude between rivals.]

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I can’t breathe–in Thailand

From Thairath, June 2, 2020
Title: From the U.S. to Thailand
On book held by PM Prayuth: The borrower from the Chao Phraya River
On PM Prayuth’s shirt: State emergency
Man: I can’t breathe.
On his shirt: People
Paper in font of him: Business bankrupt. Jobless. No income. Suicide.
Phi Nooring: Compel them to die.
Mouse: Don’t be too cruel.

[Refers to the allegations that the government is taking advantage of COVID-19 period to lessen people’s freedoms and spend massive amounts of money. Such budget-busting spending is essential for the stability of any government and current government is accused of using its powers to push through spending with inadequate oversight.
The cartoonist equates the plight of common Thai people with that of George Floyd, who appeared to have been murdered while being restrained by police in the U.S. “Borrower from the Chao Phraya River” we think is a sort of alias implying the location of a person or indicating where a person comes from (i.e. Bangkok).]

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Government tracking you?

From Thairath, June 11, 2020
Title: Co-opting COVID-19… to ‘abduct’ #save people’s mobile phone
On left: #SAVE Sgt Arm #SAVE Wanchalearm
On Covid virus: Ask for the location. Mobile. People.
Phi Nooring: Violate rights and freedom
Mouse: Use for threatening
On mobile’s screen: Freedom

[Thailand has principally used contract tracing to control the spread of covid-19. This has included the requirement that people use an app to check into and report their location.
Particularly after the abduction of dissident Wanchalearm in Cambodia, anti-government groups have accused the government of accessing people’s mobile phone data to track and destroy the opposition.]

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You can view the “beautiful sight” from your window

From Manager, June 2, 2020
President Trump: Your toilet is on fire. It is a beautiful sight to behold… ha… ha…
President Xi: Ha… ha… your house is on fire. It is so beautiful… ha… ha… ha… ha…

[Chinese social media has been quick to point out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments that the Hong Kong protests were “a beautiful sight to behold,” and that now U.S. lawmakers can witness such beautiful sights from their own windows.
“Toilet” here used sarcastically as if Hong Kong is a small part of China overall.]

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Going broke during the pandemic

From Manager, May 26, 2020
Spokeswoman: Good news… Today the number of infected case is O.
Woman: Bad news… Today our remaining money….is O!

[Refers to a impact of the COVID-19 lockdown measures which has caused many people, especially the poor, to face difficult times due to business closures and joblessness.]

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Where is he?

From Thairath, June 8, 2020
Title: Oh! can’t breathe.
On the spotlight: Pressed the charge by the NCPO [meaning he was under charges related to coup-era violations]
On the picture: #Wanchalearm
Phi Nooring: Why so heartless?
Mouse: Why kidnap him?

[Refers to the alleged disappearance of a Thai activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit who has been exiled in Cambodia. He was apparently kidnapped off streets and bundled into a van.
After his disappearance, human rights groups and anti-government groups called on the Thai government to investigate and also accused the government of being behind his abduction.
According to his sister, his last words as he was being abducted were “I can’t breathe,” mirroring cases of police brutality in the U.S.
This abduction is part of a long string of disappearances and deaths of activists who have agitated against the Thai government from neighboring countries.]

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America’s karma

From Manager, June 14, 2020
Title: Revenge
Top: After establishing the country… America caused the genocide of millions of native tribes people.
Second row, left: Followed by the genocide of millions of Vietnamese people…
Seocnd row, right: …and Iraq… Syria… many countries in the Middle East. Millions were killed.
Third row, left: Spirits of those millions of victims with revenge… have been born into new lives…
Right: To become the Corona virus
Fourth row: And return to America… for revenge
The corona virus says: Kill the whole country; Kill it!

[This cartoon reflects commonly held beliefs related to karma. It contends that U.S. actions in history are being punished by the severe toll caused by the corona virus.]

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Keep your guard up

From Thairath, May 26, 2020
Title: Don’t stop keeping your guard up or “doing the wrong guard?” [meaning that the government measures during the pandemic are hurting people rather than preventing the spread of the virus]
PM Prayuth: State of Emergency. Curfew
Men on the right: Treatment for the second wave of COVID outbreak; Commission for State Quarantine
Men in the front: Don’t receive fund assistance; Hoarding goods for speculation.
On their backs: [left] CCSA [right] Government
Phi Nooring: Afraid of hunger rather than infection
Mouse: Cartoon picture idea from Dr. Or [this is the nickname of a person who suggested the idea for this cartoon to the cartoonist]

[Refers to the dilemma of government measures meant to handle the COVID-19 situation. While the government led by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) calls on the public for keeping their guard up to prevent the spread of infection, many people have been advantages from this measure, such as hoarding medical goods or corruption on the place provided for the state quarantine.]

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Causing trouble in Hong Kong

From Manager, May 31, 2020
Man: Why do you burn there… it’s so subpar!

[Refers to the rioting in the U.S. due to the death of George Floyd.
This cartoon reflects the viewpoint, promoted by China and accepted by media in neighboring countries, that protests in Hong Kong are not organic, but are being caused by other nations, like the U.S. and U.K., that seek to harm China.
Chinese social media has also been quick to point out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments that the Hong Kong protests were “a beautiful sight to behold,” and that now U.S. lawmakers can witness such beautiful sights from their own windows.]

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Remember the Chiang Mai dog!

From Manager May 21, 2020
Thanathorn: Even if we parade the Red Shirt’s dead body, we still can’t call for the rally… We have run out of the issues to bring them out.
Pannika: Not yet… We still have P. Tia MCU.

[Refers to Thanathorn and his Move Forward Party raising the tragedy of the 2010 Red Shirt protest to call for a rally to oust the government.
However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, such protests cannot be held and it is likely that people are focusing more on their daily living during the pandemic making the appetite for long-term, chaotic protest, at least for now, unattractive.
The cartoonist ridicules the Progressive Movement for taking up Red Shirt issues by saying it is all desperation. He jokes that they could use the death of beloved Chiang Mai University mascot P. Tia to generate anger and gain support. P. Tia (meaning “short”) was run over and killed recently.]

Also: Taking up the Red Shirt mantle

Also: When you shine the light

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When you shine the light

From Thairath, May 19, 2020
Inside skulls: People who ordered it are still free and the killers are also free.
On the laser: 10 years [later]
On signs: Khok Wua intersection; Ratchaprasong [places where there were fatalities during the protests]
Hashtag: Seeking the truth

[Red Shirts and Pheu Thai-led governments have long tried to hold Democrat Party chiefs Abhisit and Suthep accountable for the protests deaths that occurred under their watch, but have thus far been unsuccessful.]

From Manager, May 19, 2020
Red Shirt groups: I-…Thorn!!! [You] Pillory us!!!
Red hashtag: Seeking the truth
Caption: The refection of the laser

[Another take on the political campaign allegedly carried out by the Progressive Movement led by Thanathorn that projected anti-government messages on landmarks.
These messages showed an interesting shift of focus for the Progressive Movement to traditional Red Shirt/Thaksin talking points such as demanding redress for the deaths that occurred during the clearance of the Red Shirt protest in 2010.
One of the strengths of the Progressive Movement was its fresh and direct focus on getting the military out of politics (a traditional political stance that has widespread appeal) and its collection of novice politicians untainted by “big man” clique obligations.
The pivot to Red Shirt issues has been a peculiar one. It is perhaps a misstep as it makes it easier to disparage Progressive Movement motives as being part of Thaksin’s political muscle and Thailand’s revenge politics.
The cartoonist contends that promoting this issue just reminds people of the rhetoric and threats of the Red Shirts. The cartoonist has the Red Shirts insult Thanathorn by calling him “I-hia-Thorn” (“hia” is a water monitor in Thai, thought to be a despicable creature). The resulting expression means something like “Shit Thorn.”

Also: Taking up the Red Shirt mantle]

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Taking up the Red Shirt mantle

From Manager, May 13, 2020
Thanathorn: I can borrow this to call for a mob? We ran out of the reasons for one.
Red Shirt leader: How come? This is our tool for living.
Caption: Asking the permission from the owner yet?
On the sign: Ratchaprasong

[Even before the pandemic lockdown occurred in Thailand, the drumbeat had started for a new push to oust the government.
The Future Forward Party was disbanded and its executives had launched the “Progressive Movement” promising angry street protests. Stories were floated in the local and foreign media noting how angry and ripe the nation was for change. Originally, the protests were to go on despite the pandemic and catchy slogans were floated (“If we burn, you will burn with us” and “It’s just the beginning.”). However, the lockdown likely dampened the urgency and perhaps the attention the public had toward long, paralyzing protests again.
In the interim, the opposition, as well as most of society, focused on the injustice and supposedly uncaring attitude that the government had toward helping common people during the pandemic. A spate of economic suicides were extensively covered in the local media.
Now, as the end of the lockdown and emergency decree seem in sight, once again local academics are being covered by the media expressing how Thailand’s democracy has failed and future conflict is inevitable.
In recent weeks, the Move Forward Party led by Thanathorn began invoking traditional Red Shirt grievances, such as finding out why no one has been punished for the deaths during the 2010 Red Shirt protests.
The cartoonist mocks this, contending that there is little urgent reason to try to oust the government now, other than the typical revenge politics of a disbanded party.]

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Failure of Democracy

From Thairath, May 13, 2020
Title: 120 years of birth anniversary of Pridi Banomyong
On the sign close to skulls: Ratchaprasong [referring to the deaths that occurred during the clearance of the Red Shirt protests in 2010]

[Refers to 120 years of anniversary of the birth of Pridi Banomyong who was a former PM and statesman. He was one of the leaders of the 1932 coup. He has often been extolled as the only true hope of democracy in Thailand in the twentieth century and was hounded from office and the country, dying in exile.
At right Pridi hovers over the marker that memorialized the 1932. This marker mysteriously vanished along with other reminders of the 1932 coup in recent years.
In the center of the cartoon, a tank is blowing up Democracy Monument to symbolize the long involvement of the military in what can only be called Thailand’s pseudo-democaries and dictatorships over the decades since the 1932 coup.]

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They just don’t care

From Thairath, May 5, 2020
Title: Craving is no mercy to anybody.
Left: Hunger for meals.
On sign at bottom left: Sufferers of Covid-19.
Center, foreigner carrying boxes: Hunger for liquor
On boxes: Beer; liquor
Right: Hunger for…?? On boxes: Bullets; guns
Mouse man: Use money for buying meals is better.
Mouse: Disrespectful to people.

[This is criticism of the military-dominated government, alleging it is more interested in bolstering its budget than helping people. This is part of the gleefully uncaring concept of Thai political rhetoric.]

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It’s a slow process

From Manager, May 4, 2020
Right: Congratulations, you passed the checking process to receive 5000 baht… Please wait…

[Refers to government’s fund support to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each person can receive 5,000 baht for three months.
However, the automated approval process has been criticized for slowing or preventing many vulnerable people from getting support.]

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Just open the schools

From Manager, April 27, 2020
On the sign in the background: International School
Pleum: Silly government…. why did you close the schools… or you wish the kids to become silly like you are?… Start the school now!!!
Viruses in background: Yeah!; Yes… Pleum is right; Yeah! Fight, Pleum; Yeah!
Caption: There are millions of Pleum supporters

[Refers to TV host and moderator Nattakorn ‘Pleum’ Devakula who recently criticized the government for shutting down schools until July to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.]

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Get angry

From Naewna, May 11, 2020
Thanathorn: Come out with one bottle each. No need for oil because we will fill in for free. [This mimics a famous Red Shirt slogan that encouraged people to bring bottles to protest so that they could be made into Molotov cocktails.]
On the sign: Don’t receive 5,000 baht assisting fund [meaning these are people who were not able to collect the pandemic stipend from the government and are thus angry]
Caption: The second fund raising of Kao Nao Party

[This refers to former Future Forward Party’s executives led by Thanathorn and Piyabutr using the fallout of government’s management of handling the COVID-19 crisis to call on people to protest and oust the government. This cartoon, from a very pro-establishment newspaper, ridicules this by comparing it to the Red Shirts when they called on similar actions in 2009/2010.
The cartoon mocks the name of the new successor party to the disbanded Future Forward Party from “Kao Na” to “Kao Nao” (meaning something like “move to be rotten.”]

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We must change our sadness to be a rancor for changing the country

From Naewa, May 7, 2020
Piyabutr: We must change our sadness to be a rancor for changing the country.
Caption: Piyabood’s rancor from the previous life…

[Refers to former secretary of the Future Forward Party Piyabutr Saengkanokkul who is calling on his supporters be angry and to fight against the government.
The party has been critical of the military and royalists. Here the cartoonist (very much hostile to the Future Forward ideology) shows Piyabutr putting a boot on himself with the date of the revolution of 1932 (B.E. 2475).
The cartoonist spells his name “Piyabood” instead of “Piyabutr.” In Thai, “bood” means “being rotten” to contend he is trying to start trouble during a national crisis–the pandemic]

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He dare not speak it directly

From Manager, May 10, 2020
Libery (from the painting “Liberty Leading the People”): Kick him out! Wants to overthrow, but he dare not speak it directly… Always speaks indirectly… so cowardly!!
Caption: If he was in that period… he must be done with like this.

[Refers to former Secretary-General of Future Forward Party Piyabutr who is alleged to admire the French Revolution. In the same way the Red Shirt media once referenced revolutions and assassinations while claiming they were not implying anything to do with Thailand, Piyabutr is alleged to have invoked revolutions for his own political ends.
The cartoonist implies, perhaps unfairly, that Piyabutr should just speak directly that he wishes to see such a revolution occurring in Thailand.
However, due to Thai law, it is difficult for him to express and show his views directly regarding such issues.]

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Social Distancing of the Bangkokian

From Thairath, April 23, 2020
On the sign: Can I have some food please?
Wording close the sign: Social Distancing of the Bangkokian
Phi Nooring: Current Bangkokian in Lumpini Park
Mouse: Thai people will not starve.

[Refers to the impact of COVID-19 outbreak causing a number of people to become jobless and wait for food donations for their living.
While this is a clever and apt observation, it is also part of the ongoing highlighting of the situation by the political opposition who seek to portray the government as purposefully uncaring about common people.]

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Political beggars

From Manager, April 22, 2020
Chaturon: Oh… Beggar government!
Caption: Perspective… often reflects their identity [meaning that calling the government a “beggar” highlights that the Phea Thai and Red Shirts are the real beggars as they continue to be “owned” by Thaksin]

[Refers to the opposition Phea Thai Party led by Chaturon Chaisang (far right) and Sudarat Keyuraphan (women in the middle). Along with Red Shirt groups they criticized the government for planning to send a letter to the 20 richest men in Thailand to ask for suggestions and financial support for handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cartoonist jokes that Pheu Thai and the Red Shirts are the real beggars as they continue to act on Thaksin’s behalf and depend on his support for their loyalty.]

From Naewna, April 28, 2020
Thanathorn: I wish to be the PM. If we become the government, I believe I can surely be the better PM than Khun Prayuth.
Caption: Begging for power

[Another cartoon on the theme of begging. Here, former Future Forward party leader Thanathorn was one of a chorus of opposition voices that criticized the government for asking billionaires to assist in giving aid for pandemic relief.]

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He still has a nice dream

From Thairath, May 2, 2020
Title: He still has a nice dream
Left of the ropes: Daily suicides
Right of the ropes: From consequence of Covid-19
On the bed: State of emergency

[This cartoon contends that PM Prayuth is purposely uncaring about common people, instead only wanting to prolong the crisis to maintain the state of emergency.
This sort of contention is common in Thai politics–that a politician is purposely taking actions knowing they will hurt people and that they like to hurt people (as opposed to just being neglectful or incompetent).
This is part of the rationale towards being “pushed too far” meaning people are forced to take action against a force that is actively hostile to them.]

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The real virus is corruption

From Thairath, April 29, 2020
Title: This disease is… a chronic outbreak!
On the viruses: Corruption; Cheating; Commission; Supporting funds
On the sword: House committee on anti-corruption
On the man’s shirt: T
On the paper: Disclose corruption on the daily subsistence allowance
Phi Nooring: Can’t defeat it.
Mouse: This disease destroys the country.

[Refers to the recent corruption case raised by Veera Somkwamkid, secretary-general of the People’s Network Against Corruption, together with a military officer. They submitted a case of corruption in the military’s daily subsistence allowance to Pol. Gen. Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, head of the House committee on corruption.
This cartoon ridicules efforts made to address corruption cases related to government, such as corruption involving supporting funds for renovating temples or receiving commission fees for government projects, contending that corruption is endemic and cannot seem to be stopped.
Does anyone know the meaning of the “T” on the man’s shirt?]

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From Thairath, May 1, 2020
Paper held by hanged woman: Don’t have money to buy milk for the kids.
Paper close by PM Prayuth’s picture: Heartless, black-hearted
Paper hanging from the Thai Airways plane: Hundred billion bailout from dying [going bankrupt]
Caption: Ordinary people are the ones who can die
Phi Nooring: Help bail out the poor
Mouse: Let them be hungry.

[Refers the government’s planned bailout for national carrier Thai Airways which is apparently on the verge of collapse. This cartoon alleges that the government does not adequately help common people and instead focuses on large businesses.
There have been a spate of highly-publicized suicides. One person drew a sketch of PM Prayuth which was left by their body. It was alleged that she could not qualify for the government’s 5000 baht assistance and was destitute. Some reports noted her boyfriend cheated her out of the payout.]

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Little help

From Manager April 20, 2020
Gods: Thank to the MEA for reducing electric fees for those users with less than a 5 amps meter.
Caption: Beneficiaries from this measure for reducing electric fees

[Many people, working or quarantined at home, have discovered the surprising added expense they have–higher than expected electric bills.
The Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) responded by reducing electric fees for three months for households with 5 amps or less meters. Many ridiculed this measure as most modern homes have higher capacity meters and will thus not see any savings. The cartoonist jokes that only Thai spirit houses will benefit from this.]

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Two Thai views of the pandemic

From Thairath, April 16, 2020
Title: Help us first
On the bags: Help bonds, Help stocks
On money: Assist people affected by COVID-19
The poor: We are starving to death. Don’t have food to eat. We are suffering. Help us all.
Phi Nooring: Stealing money which is the hope of people.
Mouse: Help the poor first.

[This accuses the government of help big business over the common man impacted by the pandemic.]

From Manager, April 16, 2020
caption: This group of kickboxing aficionados makes a huge bet on the COVID.
Somkid in the distance: Prayuth is starting to make a move… left punch … right… left… right… strike, covid is starting to lose…
Phua Thai Party chief Sudarat, standing with other opposition politicians: Khun Sompong, this time we sure lost…

[This makes light of the perception that the opposition is using the pandemic as an opportunity to attack the government with claims that the government is neglecting the poor and using the state of emergency to prevent anti-government protesting.]

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