Mar 30th, 2017

Bad fortune comes from what?

From Thairath, March 10, 2017
Title: Misery from bad deeds or temptation by the evil doer?
Sign near soldier at left: Article 44.
On monk’s robes: Monk of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.
On man with glasses: Reform of religion
The man is picking to pocket of a monk’s bag. On the bag: Money from donations
On paint can: Fake Buddhist
Mouse man: [They] Commit a sin together.
Mouse: Monk’s grief.

[This cartoon defends Wat Dhammakaya by contending that evil authorities are attacking it. The title of the cartoon asks if the ill-fortune the sect has received the result of past bad deeds (according to Buddhist belief) or simple the result of evil outsiders harassing the innocent sect. We think the man in glasses is religious expert Surapot Taweesak.]

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Weekly News Magazines, March 17-31, 2017

From Nation Weekend, March 17, 2017
Main cover reads: Tax for three-four lives

[Refers to the junta’s attempt to collect the taxes from Thaksin’s family from selling Shin Corp in 2006. “Three-four lives” implies the long period of time it would take to pay off the tax. Many critics have expressed their concern that the junta may fail to collect the tax or let it expire in exchange for political reconciliation with Thaksin.]

Top-right: Dhammakaya must leave. ‘Wat Suvarnabhumi’ new center for ‘new millionaires’

[Refers to Suvarnahumi Buddha Jayanyi temple which has recently become well-known for its ambition to speak on behalf of world Buddhism and for its ability to attract rich and powerful supporters.
This was previously the profile of besieged Dhammakaya temple which is now facing restructuring as authorities continue to attempt to arrest its abbot.]

From Matichon Weekly, March 17-23, 2017
Main cover reads: Repeating decimal

[Refers to the mission to arrest Dhammakaya temple’s abbot Dhammachayo. The cover implies the battle between the authorities and Dhammakaya will be endless until Dhammachaya is arrested.]

Top right: Yuwadee Tunyasiri ‘Piaja’ of Surapol Donavanik

[Refers to veteran journalist Yuwadee Tunyasiri who passed away at age 71 due an abdominal bleeding. “Piaja” is the title of famous song composed by the well-respect musician Surapol Donavanik about Yuwadee when she was young. “Pia” in Thai means pigtails.
Yuwadee visited Surapol after he was arrested and he then wrote the song about “a beautiful lady with pigtails” who inspired him when he was in jail.]

From Manager Weekly, March 18-24, 2017
Main cover reads: Power of [red] ‘political counsel’ pull out ‘Oak-Aim’

[The people are Thaksin’s son Panthongtae ‘Oak’ Shinawatra and his daughter Pintongta ‘Aim’ Shinawatra Kunakornwong. This cover is about well-known political counsel Wissanu Krea-Ngam who has served as legal advisor for both Thaksin’s government and the current junta. Critics question whether he is brokering a deal to end the attempt to collect taxes from Thaksin’s family in exchange for a reconciliation deal with Thaksin.]

Top: End of the beautiful world. Can we accept that ‘Dhammachayo’ won.

[Refers to the mission to arrest Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhammachaya. The article heaps ridicule on authorities for failing to capture him.]

Bottom left: Summer hot and a drama of photo book

[Refers to Passarana Ussadamongkol, known as “Beer the Voice,” who will first issue a photo book of sexy photos for summer. However, before the book was launched, she posted a sad and disappointed message on her Facebook and caused people wonder about her state of mind.]

Right: Investigate the secret land ‘Thai PBS’ after ‘Doctor Krisada’ resigned due to the stocks

[Refers the article disclosing about the problem inside Thai PBS after its chief Krisda Rueangareerat, a former dentist, resigned after he came under criticism for investment in debentures from Charoen Pokphand Food (CPF).]

From Lokwannee, March 25-21, 2017
Main cover reads: Even though times have passed, the ‘magical’ has never changed.
On the newspaper: Find the secret tunnel in Thammasart to keep the powerful weapons.
In the parentheses: Do whatever you please

[Implies that the government is lying about Dhammakaya temple having secret tunnels and other fortifications. To make this point, the cover references claims the government made in 1976 about the siege at Thammasasat University. The government justified the massacre of protesting students at the time by claiming that the students has a secret tunnel where they stored powerful weapons to be used in a communist takeover of Thailand.]

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Lesson of patience


From Manager, March 9, 2017
Caption: Just think–this temple teaches about being ‘patient’ to the people

[This cartoon mocks the actions of Dhammakaya monks as they tried to prevent the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) from arresting their abbot. The sect (and Buddhism in general) teaches serene patience with the world as a virtue and this cartoonist contrasts this with the furious actions of the monks in resisting the police instead contending the police are the patient ones.]

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A LOT of leave!


From Thairath, March 7, 2017

Title: Good people… carry a basket.
Two men at top right (we think the man at top right is Pronpetch Wichitchochai, NLA president):
On basket: Receiving incomes from various posts
On ribbon worn by the man at right: NLA [National Legislative Assembly]
On ribbon worn by a man next to left of him: Civil officer
On his shirt: NLA
On basket on the floor: Application for leave. Don’t skip voting.
On the papers in the basket: Application for leave
On the shirts of men at left: NLA
On his basket: Application for leave. Don’t skip the meeting
On papers in the basket: Application for leave
On a basket held by man at far left: Correct application for leave as said by the President.
On papers in the basket: Application for leave
On his shirt: NLA
On his ribbon: Civil officer
On basket held by a man at top left: Application for leave. Don’t skip the meeting.
On papers in the basket: Application for leave
On a basket in the front right: Salary from people’s taxes
Phi Nooring: The world’s most awesome application of leave. In 1 year, you can take a leave for 5,836.
A mouse: The privilege group.

[Refers to the scandal of PM Prayuth’s brother Gen. Preecha Chan-ocha who was found to not be attending any National Legislative Assembly meetings despite drawing a salary for it. This was explained away by the government who said the proper applications for leave had been filed.
Critics have called on the NLA’s secretary-general to be brought up on dereliction of duty charges for approving as many as 5,836 applications for leave for the assembly–all for seven NLA members in one year.]

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Informing the U.N. on the junta

From Thairath, March 2, 2017
Left: The UN will only come to interfere for problems between country to country…
Middle: …what position are you taking when you want to complain to the UN?
Right: Our position is that we are a new country called the People’s Democratic Republic of Dhammakaya and we were trespassed on by our neighboring country from “Article 44.”

[In recent years, opposing factions in Thai political squabbles have asked the U.N. to intervene on their behalf.
The joke here is that, when a Dhammakaya monk is confronted with the fact that the U.N. will not likely intervene unless they are a country, the monk claims their sect’s temple is a country being invaded by the Thai junta.
This also references ridicule the junta has received for being unable to access the compound easily despite their absolute power under Article 44.]

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Weekly News Magazines, March 10-24, 2017

From Nation Weekend, March 10, 2017
Main cover reads: Thung Rangsit battlefield. Ending the game before raining

[Refers to an attempt by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to arrest Dhammakaya abbot’s Dhammachayo at the sect’s temple in Rangsit in the north of Bangkok. This cover warns officers to accomplish their mission before the seasonal rainy season arrives.]

Top: ‘Phra Paisal Visalo’ [white], the future of Dhammakaya

[Refers to a rumor about well-respected monk Phra Paisal Visalo who will become the new Dhammakaya abbot after Dhammachayo was stripped of the title. However, Phra Paisal has denied the rumor.]

From Matichon Weekly, March 10-16, 2017
Cover reads: The party…. almost ends.

[Refers to the mission to arrest Dhammakaya temple abbot Dhammachayo. National police chief Jakthip Chaijinda believes that this mission needs to be ended soon or the long, drawn-out mission would damage the government side. Increasingly, critics have questioned the junta’s heavy handed response to the sect’s followers and the use of its absolute power to effect the capture under Article 44.]

Top: Amazing masks [red] The Mask Singer brings Workpoint’s rating up [black] overtaking [channels] 3 and 7 to become number 1

[Refers to the popular TV show ‘The Masked Singer’ produced by Workpoint. Recently, the ratings of the show beat the mainstream media on channels 3 and 7. This show invites famous celebrities and singers to join a singing competition under the condition that their identities are hidden. The loser of each competition has to remove their mask. This is a Thai version of a popular Korean show.]

From Manager Weekly, March 11-17, 2017
Main cover reads: Born Live Die

[The photos (left to right) are photos of Dhammachayo and Phra Dattajivo as young men and adults. The article refers to lives of both famous monks of Dhammakaya temple– Dhammayacho, the former abbot the temple, and Phra Dattajivo, a key monk of the sect. Both were were stripped their titles recently as authorities attempted to locate and arrest Dhammachayo.]

Top: Evidence shown on the secret of the reconciliation [black] ‘Anutin’ a middleman who wish to be the PM [red]; Let the ‘Shincorp’ tax to be expired.

[Photos are of Thaksin Shinawatra, Anutin Charnviraku, and Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin.
Refers to a long series about the supposedly secret reconciliation deal the junta is trying to negotiate with Thaksin.
This article alleges that a plan to let the tax collection on the sale of Shin Corp expire at the end of this month was agreed to by the junta and Thaksin.
Bhumjaithai Party’s leader Anutin Charnviraku is believed to be the middleman for the deal. He has a close relations with Thaksin as well as the military clique that led by former army chief Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin who led the coup in 2006. However, the junta has dismissed these rumors of a secret reconciliation deal.
It is indeed highly unlikely that the junta would give away its political advantage under the new charter by allowing Thaksin to return to the country after his incessant attempts to return to power over the years (not to mention the persistent anti-monarchy rhetoric of his Red Shirts during this time of transition). Even more unlikely would be anyone believing a promise from Thaksin that he would refrain from engaging in politics after returning to Thailand.
Recently these preposterous rumors from the Manager Group have found their way into the international press as information from “envoys” (Thai Prime Minister Prayuth’s grip starting to slip).
Perhaps non-Thai news media do not understand the context in which these claims are being made. This Manager Group article is one of many over the years that seeks to rabble rouse anti-Thaksin groups and warn the junta that there are powerful forces in society that will not accept the military making a Thai-style “forgive and forget” deal with Thaksin. These hyped-up rumors are meant to keep politics hot and warn the military off any temptation to sell out to Thaksin.]

Bottom: Signal of danger for the mainstream media [orange] “Workpoint” beats 3-7 [white] “E-Jeab” gets advertisement fees [orange] 1 hundred thousand per post.

[Refers to the TV ratings of the mainstream media, particularly the Channel 3 and 7 which lost to Workpoint’s channel broadcast on digital TV. Also, famous Facebook page ‘E-Jeab Leabduan’ gains big money from advertising. This leads to a question about paying taxes by the bloggers who receive income from their Facebook or other social media pages.]

From Lokwannee, March 18-24, 2017
Main cover reads: Pa [small] why we have him for?
Veera Somkwamkid at bottom says: Fake poll
On his shirt: Veera Somkwamkid
Baby: Don’t call me ‘Pa’ I’ll get angry.
Dog: Real poll

[We are not sure about this cover and its connection to Prem. It heaps sarcasm on the junta and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda. It refers to a recent poll that showed that the junta’s popularity was still high. However, Veera Somkwamkid, one of the yellow shirt leaders, disagreed with the poll. The word “lick” in Thai is also an idiom meaning “to flatter.” The dog implies that the group who conducted the poll is trying to flatter the junta with the good results.]

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We will protect our religion!

From Manager, March 1, 2017
Caption: We will protect our religion… we will not let anyone destroy it!

[The monks who are preventing authorities from apprehending the Dhammakaya sect’s abbot for money laundering charges have said they are simply protecting the sanctity of Thai Buddhism from an overzealous military.
The cartoonist jokes that they are really protecting their fugitive abbot here represented by a black foot. This is because spokespersons for the sect have claimed that that the abbot is too ill to be arrested and his foot has turned black because of his illnesses.]

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It’s not about Dhammakaya, it’s about Article 44

From Thairath, February 25, 2017
Title: Only one power of the people.
On the sword the PM Prayuth holds: Article 44
Mouse man: There still a place for freedom.
Mouse: Stop violating rights.

[This is another cartoon seeking to cast the Dhammakaya siege as being about the overuse of junta power instead of enforcing legal charges for money laundering.
The military, seeking to remove an unpredictable Thaksin/Red Shirt ally, has pushed forward money laundering charges against the Dhammakaya Movement’s abbot, known for his innovative or heretical (depending on your perspective) teachings on Buddhism.
More on Article 44
More on Dhammakaya]

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Hanged for Article 44

From Thairath, February 28, 2017
Title: Buddhist country? Article 44
On the paper held by the hanged man: I am asking for your consideration in revoking Article 44. If you don’t do it by 21:00 today, collect my body.
Mouse man: Mourning.
Mouse: Protect the religion.

[This refers top the recent incident where a Dhammakaya supporter hung himself in protest of the government attempting to apprehend the sect’s abbot using the absolute powers of Article 44.
Most of the media have continually ridiculed the Dhammakaya Movement in recent months.
Since late last month, pro-Red Shirt voice, like the artists of this cartoon, have begun to defend Dhammakaya against the moves of the military junta to dismantle the sect, here contending that military absolute power is being used to attack Thai Buddhism.
More on Article 44
More on Dhammakaya]

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Inspiration for the foot soldiers

From Manager, March 2, 2017
At left, Red Shirt Jatuporn and another man: Money… money
On the wall: Maew’s [Thaksin’s] feeding pipe
At right, Dhammakaya sect followers: Heaven… heaven
On the wall: Thammy’s [Dhammachayo’s] feeding pipe [the temples on clouds represent heaven]
Caption: The differences of two pipes

[This compares how Thaksin and Dhammakaya temple abbot Dhammachayo motivate and control their followers. Thaksin is believed to provide financial support to Red Shirt activities while Dhammachayo gets his followers to donate money to support him so that they will go to heaven.]

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Dhammakaya requires money to get into heaven

From Manager, February 28, 2017
Man: What? You even killed yourself to protect the priest. Why can’t you get into the heaven’s gate?
Man: I’m poor… I don’t have money to buy a hammer.
On the entrance gate: Heaven naja. [mocks fugitive abbot Dhammachayo’s eccentric way of speaking–he adds a feminine suffix to the end of his sentences instead of a male suffix]

[This cartoon ridicules the Dhammakaya sect’s principles that ask people to buy merit by donating to the temple, rather than doing good things or following traditional Buddhist precepts.
Recently, an old man hung himself at the temple to protest the junta’s use of its absolute power under Article 44 to arrest fugitive abbot Dhammachayo.
The cartoon implies that even thought his man killed himself for the sect, he would not be able to get into heaven under Dhammakaya’s precepts as he did not have the money to buy one of the ceremonial hammers produced by the temple.]

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Weekly News Magazines, March 3-17, 2017

From Nation Weekend, Mar 3, 2017
Main cover reads: Ko Tee catches up with the Dhammakaya issue

[The man on the cover is Wutthipong Kodthammakun, known as Ko Tee, a hardcore Red Shirt. He has been broadcasting revolutionary messages to the Thai northeast from his underground radio station, believed to be operating from Laos. Recently he began calling on Red shirts to join Dhammakaya followers at the sect’s main temple to fight officers attempted to arrest the temples abbot.
All of this might explain the shifting Thaksin/Red Shirt attitude toward the Dhammakaya issue. Initially, they were silent, wanting to avoid any conflict that would give the militay a pretext to further delay elections. However, in recent weeks, Red Shirts have been more vocal on this issue–focusing in on the supposed unfair used of Article 44 to enter the temple to arrest the abbot. This shift, along with the new radical messages from Ko Tee calling on Red Shirts to join the fight, indicates the Dhammakaya will likely be used to bolster to popularity of a future pro-Thaksin party that points out the perceived unfairness of the Bangkok elite towards Thailand’s poor and towards Dhammakaya.]

Top right: Who are they? [yellow] ‘Pongporn-Rungroj’ [white] 2 police, 2 Buddhist principles

[Refers to the appointment of Pongporn Parmsneh, Director of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI)’s Bureau of Taxation Crimes, as the new head of the National Office of Buddhism to accelerate the DSI mission to deal with Dhammakaya.
Another officer, Rungroj, a retired police general, was detained after police searched his car and found bulletproof vests and knives. He was suspected of being a Dhammakaya supporter who was trying to impede the officer’s work to search the temple.]

From Manager Weekly, March 4-10, 2017
Main cover reads: Not involved… Not involved
1st row left to right: Pojaman Na Pombejra, Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck Shinawatra, not sure who the last person is
2nd: Sudarat Keyuraphan, Dr. Weng Tojirakarn
3rd: Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Leelavadee Vajropala, Ko Tee
4th: Suchart Thada-Thamrongvech, Nattawut Saikua, the last two are Red Shirt security guards
Inside the white box: The attack on Dhammakaya temple with strong accusation [that it is a] fake Buddhist sect is like throwing a spear to destroy the Buddhist group that is the centerpiece of the Red Shirts, the anti-junta group, and former PM Thaksin’s supporters. Dr. Weng Tojirakarn

[Dr. Weng is a Red Shirt leader and intellectual thinker for the movement and has often been quite candid when acknowledging the Red Shirt movement’s role as political muscle for Thaksin Shinawatra.
Here, is quote is used to show the long association between the movement and Thaksin and his Red Shirts. Normally Thaksin and his political clique (as shown on the cover), deny any connection to Dhammakaya temple.
The words ‘ไม่เกี๊ยว…ไม่เกี่ยว’ (“Not involved… Not involved”) are the same meaning, but the first one is written with a high tone to indicate the person saying it is lying.]

Top right: Fired-arrested ‘Jumpol Manmai’ taking a benefit and having a political interest. Threatens national security

[Refers to Police Gen. Jumpol Manmai who was fired from being a senior figure in King Rama X’s household.]

From Lokwannee, March 11-17, 2017
Main cover reads: Shitangma… Pong… Kruay Roptupjub [yellow]seuk

[Refers to the attempt of officers to arrest Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhammachayo. The phase ‘Shitangma…Pong…Kruay’ mimics Dhammachayo’s famous phase for wishing to be rich ‘Shitangma…Pong…Ruay.’ “Ruay” means rich in Thai. Such sentiments coming from A monk, are quite unusual, but this is also what ahs caused the Dhammakaya sect’s teachings to be attractive to many newly rich in Thailand.
The cover changes the meanin use use the word ‘Kruay’ meaning a traffic cone. The traffic cone in the cover refers to the traffic cones used by the officers to block people from entering to Dhammakaya temple while they are carrying the mission to arrest Dhammachayo. The cover also plays with the sound of the word ‘seuk’ Thai. The original phase ‘รบทัพจับศึก (Roptupjubseuk) means ‘fighting on the war. ศึก (Seuk) means war. However, in the title, สึก (Seuk) means to disrobe (disqualify) a monk. So, a whole phase in the cover means to fight (with Dhammakaya temple) to be able disrobe its abbot.
All of this is part of the recent push by pro-Thaksin/Red Shirt media to begin to openly support the sect again by focusing on the issue of the unfairness of the actions of the government. This is an important issue in the Thai world and sympathy is easily directed to those who have been treated, if not unfairly, then in an unequal way to others.]

From Matichon Weekly, March 3-9, 2017
Main cover reads: 1st death from the Article 44
On the white poster: Please end Article 44 before 21.00 or I will die.

[Refers to the suicide of a man to protest the use of Article 44 to capture Dhammakaya’s abbot.]

Top right: The result is in the ‘wrong envelope’ but the movie is not ‘wrong performance.’ Moonlight beats La La Land to win the ‘best picture’
[Refers to announcement of the wrong best picture Oscar at the Academy Awards.]

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Stars in Thailand


From Thairath, February 26, 2017
Title: NASA found 7 dao [stars] orbiting Thailand [this uses wordplay to comment on recent events that involve a variation of the Thai word for star.]

Top left: Daoreuang [Marigold]
[Refers to Dhammakaya’s past pilgrimage though downtown Bangkok. It disrupted traffic and was seen as a demonstration of the chaos the sect could cuase if it was pressured. Along the way of their pilgrimage, their followers spread marigolds on the road as the carpet for Dhammakaya’s monks to walk on as they believe the marigold refers to the riches and wealth.]

Top middle: Daotok [Shooting star]
On the shooting star: Rolls-Royce bribery
[Refers to the Rolls-Royce bribery which is thought to involve many former politicians, particularly during Thaksin and Yingluck’s administrations, as well as executives of Thai Airways and PTT companies.]

Top middle right: Daoyour [Temptress]
[Not sure about this one. Perhaps refers to recent foreign reports about Pattaya being a city of prostitution. It also perhaps shows junta attempts to tempt opposing political groups to sign a binding reconciliation pact.]

Top right: Daokhro [planet]
[Refers to the police who are always criticized for trying to catch a scapegoat instead of the real perpetrator of a crime. This caption plays with Thai word “khro” meaning “getting into trouble.” However, when it combines with the word “dao” it means means “planet.”]

Bottom left: Daohang [comet]
[We are not sure of the connection here, it implies that bad politicians are in parliament and that they are water monitors. To refer to someone as this kind of lizard is an insult. The word “hang” in Thai means “tail.” More about the tiger-lion-bull-rhinoceros reference.]

Bottom middle: Daolukkai [Pleiades]
On the sleeve: Fuel price
[Refers to Thai idiom “a chicken in one’s hand” meaning as “in the palm of one’s hand.” This refers to the fuel price–which is thought to be manipulated by powerful groups for their benefit. The word “lukkai” means “chicken.”]

Bottom right: Daorung [Rising star]
[Refers to recent foreign reports about Pattaya being a city of prostitution.]

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Two similar cartoons: We need “Black Foot!”

From Manager, February 28, 2017
Caption: Needs of each side

[Refers to the attempt to arrest Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhammachayo. Dhammakaya’s monks have called for food as officers have blockaded the temple and claimed that Dhammachayo is ill and his foot has turned black. The authorities have responded for Dhammachayo to be surrendered. Thus, the authorities are demanded that “Black Foot” be handed over.]

From Manager, March 3, 2017
Title: Each side… each request
On the monk’s banner: We need food [in English]
On the officer’s flag: We need Dhammachayo.
On the fences: Hunger strike. Stop Article 44 [the junta’s absolute power]
Phi Nooring: Arrest the monks or take control the temple
Mouse: Make the monks have trouble

[Refers to the attempt to arrest Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhammachayo. This expresses sympathy for the monks and blames the military for using absolute power to attack the sect.]

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When Dhammakaya saved Thailand from the A-bomb


From Manager, March 5, 2017
Caption: It proves that Article 44 is scarier that an atomic bomb.

[This references a Dhammakaya story about the power of their movement. The story that a nun named Chan, who was the teacher of Dhammakaya abbot Dhammachayo had the power to stop an atomic bomb which the allies tried to drop on Thailand during WWII.
These claims were once touted by the sect in English years ago, but these seem to have been removed as the sect tried to position itself as the mainstream voice of Thai Buddhism. Indeed, many foreigners today see Dhammakaya as a laudable Buddhist movement and know nothing of the cult of personality, weird beliefs, use of Nazi imagery, and involvement in Thai politics that the sect is known for in Thailand.
The cartoon implies that even though Dhammakaya claimed that they had the power to stop an atomic bomb from destroying Thailand, they still can halt the power of the junta’s Article 44 which allowed the officers to search for Dhammachayo in the sect’s headquarters.]

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High speed trains… and coal???

From Manager, February 22, 2017
Left: Vision 2000…
Right: …run by the engine of the year of 1800

[Ridicules the junta’s promotions of high-tech train while also demanding coal-fired power plants be built.]

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Just think that you are sacrificing for the country

From Thairath, February 21, 2017
Title: Just think that you are sacrificing for the country
On the bag held by the soldier: Budget for free education, health care card [he is pouring this into the military’s submarine program]
At top right on the bag: Fees for the consultants; Salaries for many positions
On his back: Allied groups [meaning that groups allied to the military are reaping benefits from the big money deals]
Left on a man with glasses: Disabled peoples’ fund
On woman’s shirt: 30 baht universal coverage health care program
On a man next to her: Impose taxes
Phi Nooring: Want the neighbors to be afraid.
A mouse: For the security. [meaning they hope people will be afraid so they can justify spending for more weapons for security]

[The cartoon criticizes the junta for increasing spending on security with contracts that benefit their allies while cutting budgets for the public warfare.]

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The temple’s assets

From Daily News, February 24, 2017
Title: Sitting on… hot stuff
On the broom: Revise the Monk’s Act… manage the temple’s assets…

[Refers to the case of Dhammakaya temple. As Dhammakaya’s activities supposedly violate traditional Buddhist precepts, there is a call for the junta to reform the laws that comprise the Buddhist Acts in order to restore credibility and the trust in Thai Buddhism.]

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Weekly News Magazines, February 28-March 10, 2017

From Lokwannee, March 4-10, 2017
Main cover reads: Real Buddhism [grey] Fake Buddhism [white] Real media [grey] Fake media [white] Real law [grey] Fake law [white] Real good people [grey] Fake good people

[Refers to the current situation in Thailand where many people on social media are branding those with opposite political views as “fake” rather than to considering the facts of that matter. This viewpoint defends against junta claims that some masked monks seen guarding Wat Dhammakaya are not monks at all, but Red Shirt-style provocateurs. It says that the junta and those attacking Wat Dhammakaya are the real fake people.]

From Matichon Weekly, February 24-March 2, 2017
Main cover reads: Battlefront of [underlined] ‘Khlong Luang’ The event [underlined] unchanged.

[Refers to the fight between Dhammakaya’s monks and officers who tried to search for Dhammakaya’s fugitice abbot Dhammachayo who is facing a charges for money laundering. Khlong Luang is a name of district where Dhammakaya is located.]

Top right: 7 superheroes of the NLA. Parachuting Unlimited [meaning not showing up for an obligation] hits ‘Nong Tik’ [nickname of Prayuth’s younger brother Gen. Preecha Chan-ocha] impacts ‘Pee Tu’ [nickname of PM Prayuth]

[Refers to the absence of Prayuth’s younger brother Gen. Preecha Chan-ocha from the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). According to assembly regulations, a member who fails to appear for over one-third of votes in 90 days will be removed. However the assembly’s acting secretariat stated that Gen. Preecha together with other 6 NLA members had permission not to attend the meeting due to other assignments. All of this strikes the general public as a typical example of funneling a salary to a family member for doing nothing.]

From Manager Weekly, February 23-March 3, 2017
Main cover reads: Next Step Dhammakaya [black] new denomination, new doctrine, new religion
Man on the cover is Anan Asawapokin, Chairman and the President of Land and House company
The monk on the cover is Dhammachayo
The woman on the cover is Sasina Wimuttanon, TV anchor

[Refers to Dhammakaya temple case and fugitive abbot Dhammachaya. The junta has used its absolute powers under Article 44 to arrest Dhammachayo. However, Dhammakaya temple followers, including famous people and businessmen (such as those pictured), have pressured authorities to dismiss the use of Article 44 in this case. The famous followers as pictured on the cover are being ridiculed for following the often unusual ceremonies of the sect which include non-standard costumes and mass spectacles meant to emulate Nazi rallies.]

Bottom left: The coal-fired power plant: if you will blame ‘Big Pom,’ if you will criticise ‘Big Tu,’ you must not forget the ‘Big of the EGAT’

[The boy in the picture is a protester against the plan to build coal-fired power plants. This refers to the junta’s controversial plan to force the building of coal-fired power plants to ensure the energy security of the country. This plan raises concern about environmental problems and the impact on local communities.
“Pom” is the nickname of Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan while “Tu” is PM Prayuth. “EGAT” is the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand that will run the project.
The headline implies that it is not really the junta that is behind the building, but powerful tycoons and business interests that will benefit from the megaprojects. It all implies that the junta is pushing these projects as part of back-room dealing to support the regime and pay political debts.]

Bottom right: So what. No one cares!! Rumor that Channel 8 is linked with ‘Film’ to do PayAll.
The men in the picture from leftto right: Ong-Art Singlumpong and Rattapoom ‘Film’ Tokongsup

[Refers to actor Rattapoom ‘Film’ Tokongsup’s company PayAll Group Company. The Bank of Thailand has complained that the company is illegally providing an mobile-based e-money service. In this case, there is a rumor that Ong-Art Singlumpong, Channel 8’s executive, may be connected with the business.]

From Nation Weekend, February 24, 2017
Main cover reads: The Masked Monks

[Refers to an attempt of authorities to capture Dhammakaya abbot Dhammachayo. To prevent officers from searching for their abbot, Dhammakaya monks have been used as human shields and have fought with police. Some of the front line monks and other monk “guards” have worn masks. Authorities and media have questioned whether these are real monks or fake ones who have infiltrated to temple to assist its defense as the temple is a long-time Thaksin/Red Shirt ally.]

Top right: ‘Phra Paisal’ Question-Answer ‘State and Dhammakaya’

[Refers to the articles by the respected monk Phra Paisal on how the government should deal with the Dhammakaya temple problem.]

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Dhammayoyo consecrated a lot of Buddha amulets

From Thairath, February 20, 2017
Title: Yesterday, Dhammayoyo consecrated a lot of Buddha amulets.
Left to right: 1st Buddha posture locking on the woman; 2nd Buddha posture to hit the camera; 3rd Buddha posture to hit people’s chest; 4th Buddha posture on pretending; The monk says: “don’t attack the monk”

[Refers to the government’s attempt to arrest Dhammakaya abbot Dhammachayo on charges of money laundering. Dhammachayo was being protected by human shields who fought with authorities who tried to enter the temple to arrest the abbot.
This cartoon references the practice of an abbot blessing amulets symbolizing various postures of the Buddha or his followers. Here, the cartoonist jokes that the amulets portray the very unBuddhist-like actions the temple’s monks took to fend off police trying to arrest the abbot.
Some of the monks attacked a woman officer which violated the Buddhist principle of not touching a woman. Monks were also filmed fighting with the media and police officers.
The media sometimes makes fun with Dhammachayo’s name by calling him “DhamaYOYO” as is done in this cartoon.]

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A mouth keeps speaking

From Thairath, February 19, 2017
Title: The mouth keeps speaking [meaning something like the rhetoric says reconciliation, but the reality is different]
Soldier on the left: Reconciliation
Soldier on the right: Reform
On sign held by man with glasses: Being slandered
On sign held by man at far left: False charges
Phi Nooring: Will be able to have reconciliation in this lifetime?
A mouse: [They] Love to use power

[Refers to the junta saying they want reconciliation. However, they then aggressively confront the Dhammakaya sect by trying to arrest its abbot.]

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Once the tallest building in Thailand, the Dusit Thani Hotel will be demolished

Bangkok’s Dusit Thani Hotel Gets Date With Wrecking Ball – khaosodenglish.com, March 7, 2016
…Once the tallest building in Thailand, the Dusit Thani Hotel will be demolished and replaced with a complex consisting of a hotel, residences, an office space, a shopping mall and green space, according to the announcement. The 36-billion baht project is a partnership between the hotel group and Central Pattana, which owns 30 shopping malls nationwide under the Central brand…

More: Bangkok’s tallest buildings over the years
Also: The Phra Ya Sombat Phaisan Building

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Suan Dusit Poll: Using Article 44

[The junta’s absolute power under Article 44 has recently come under seemingly coordinated attack as the authorities try to capture the fugitive abbot of Wat Dhammakaya.
Most often Article 44 has been condemned for being dictatorial while, at the same time, people press the junta to use it before democracy returns and the window for reform ends.
Below is a translation from Suan Dusit Poll on the public’s preferences for the junta to use the military’s special power.]

More on Article 44:
2017: Everyone wants to use Article 44!
2016: Article 44 got dull
2015: Prayuth: “I cannot use Article 44 to solve every problem” after pressed to solve EU concerns on fishing
2015: Pressuring the PM to use his absolute power: Everyone loves Article 44
2015: The Withering of Article 44
2015: The power of Article 44 won’t last for long
2015: It is important to realize that the military does not really have absolute power. Power in the Thai world is highly decentralized and it is extremely difficult for the military to control everything. In the following case, the police refused to strip Thaksin of his rank as ordered by the military by throwing up procedural hurdles. The use of Article 44 to strip Thaksin of his rank in this case demonstrated the failure of the junta to to be able to control the police: Bypassing official channels, Prayuth uses Article 44 to strip Thaksin of his rank

Suan Dusit Poll: Using Article 44
March 1, 2017

Since Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, the Prime Minister and the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has used his power through the Article 44 of the interim Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, BE 2557 to reconcile, maintain peace and suspend and prevent potential offenses occurring in the country, there is still the criticism about the use of the Article 44 from those who are satisfied and dissatisfied. To reflect the people’s views, Suan Dusit Poll by Suan Dusit University conducted the survey of people across the country with the total of 1,180 people during February 20-24 February 2017. The results are as follows:

1. Which the use of the Article 44 satisfies the public the most?
1st Suppress corruption 86.61%
2nd Suppress influential people and the mafia 80.68%
3rd Suppress [illicit] drugs 74.83%
4th Police appointment and rotation 72.03% [meaning to prevent the widespread buying of police promotions and stopping appointments to benefit political parties–both characteristics of Thaksin-controlled governments which the junta opposes]
5th Organize society 68.47% [various acts for the perceived good of society]

2. Besides the existing Article 44 uses, what else does the public want the Article 44 to be used for?
1st Manage welfare to cover from birth until retirement 78.30% [meaning to create a social welfare system]
2nd [Combat] Violent crimes causing a terror to society 73.81%
3rd Solve traffic problems, urban development, mass transit systems 62.71% [the junta has forced through dozens of long-delayed mass transit plans–this is particularly disheartening to political parties which have long used the approval of such plans to reward business allies and kick back money into the party]
4th Deal with issues that impact natural resources and the environment 61.78% [the junta has been doing the opposite of this in some areas–particularly forcing local communities to accept the construction of coal-fired power plants in their area]
5th [Regulate] Youth behaviors, such as fighting, gaming addiction and incorrect use of social media 55.76%

3. What do the people want to ask Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the PM and the head of the NCPO, to take into account for using the Article 44?
1st Use this special power with transparency and justice 82.97% [this is also the claim of the junta itself which claims it only uses the power in a transparent way to benefit the country]
2nd Carefully use and consider about the pros and cons of it 75.25%%
3rd Seriously and decisively use for a concrete outcome 67.46%
4th Clarify to the public on the background and the reasons for using Article 44 60.68%
5th Use for solving special cases–not using it repetitiously [using it too much] 58.29%
Suan Dusit Poll

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Making Yellow and Red love each other

From Manager, February 13, 2017
Cupid Pom [Cupid Pom is Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan who is pushing the reconciliation plan.]: Your rose arrows… will not make these two fall in love with each other… back off and let me do it!
Caption: This Valentine’s… Cupid Pom wants to show…

[This references the attempts to force pro- and anti-Thaksin factions to reconcile. In practice this means both sides agree to rules of conduct and accept military enforcement of this agreement.
In the wider context of Thai history, it foreshadows a future where misbehaving parties can expect to be “liquidated” by the military. This is in keeping with the military’s self-appointed role as the “protector of the nation” and Thai attitudes about protest.
Not only is protest considered a shameful breach of the normal unity of society, but the fact that the Red Shirts in particular are obviously directed by a politician for his own benefit would lead the military to categorize them as insincere hired hands that can be dealt with harshly.
The Yellow Shirt faction has also long been under pressure too for steadfastly resisting any concessions at all for Thaksin. Even during the previous Pheu Thai-led government, anti-Thaksin forces were on guard against any efforts to bring Thaksin into reconciliation efforts.
The present junta realizes that in some way Thaksin must be assuaged and thus it needs to bring the Yellow Shirts under control to allow an eventual solution that includes Thaksin.
Despite any promises for a return to democracy, no elections will be held until the present military junta feels that have cowed all political factions into binding reconciliation agreements.]

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Black May for Dhammakaya temple?

From Thairath, February 23, 2017
Title: May I ask for alms, please.
On the monk’s yellow robe: Dhammakaya temple
On a military’s hand: Article 44 [holding the arm of the news media meaning they are controlling infomation]
On man’s hand: A mission of IO.
Phi Nooring: Models of 6 Oct 19 and May 53…
Mouse: People who love sadism.

[Refers the junta’s attempt to arrest Dhammakaya temple’s abbot Dhammachayo and controlling information by the Information Operation (IO). THis has been the claim of Wat Dhammakaya and its followers.
The cartoonist implies that this is leading to a mass killing of monks at the temple like previous political incidents of October 6, 1976 and Black May in 1992 when the military gunned down protesters.]

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The future is coal-fired power plants

From Thairath, February 17, 2017
Title: The goal is for the future.
On the flag: A coal-fired power plant in the South
On the small model held by PM Prayuth: Clean, Modern, High technology
Words on four people at bottom right representing typical southern people: Security of the power generation
On man biting PM Prayuth’s leg: Local politicians
On man next to him: Groups who have a benefit [meaning vested interests that might oppose the power plant plan]
On the NGO man: Against the power plant
Phi Nooring: Don’t wait until the day with a blackout.
On the mouse: Develop the South.

[Refers to the junta’s controversial plan to build coal-fired power plants in the southern province, Krabi, under the national power development plan.
This plan is opposed by many groups due to the concern on environmental impact on local residents.
This pro-Red Shirt and pro-Thaksin cartoonist seems to support the plan, possibly because it is creating dissension between the junta and anti-Thaksin, pro-Democrat Party people in the Thai south.]

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The prime minister wants coal-fired power plants!

From Thairath, February 15, 2017
Title: Decide… for happiness
Paper in PM Prayuth’s hand: A future of coal-fired power plants in the South.
Left, poster held by a man on the top: Want to use the electricity, but don’t want the power plant
Poster held by a man at the bottom left: Against the power plant
Poster held by a man close to PM Prayuth: Don’t want a coal
Mouse: Please help to develop the South
Phi Nooring: Before didn’t have electricity
Right, poster held by the woman: Want the power plant
Sign in from of the power plant: Clean power plant
Posters help by the children: (left) Reduce the risk. Electricity fee is decreased. (right) Strengthen the security of power utilization.
Boy in the boat: Safe

[Refers to the controversial junta plan on to push through the building of coal-fired power plants in Krabi, a southern province heavily reliant on tourism.
This is opposed by many groups including local people, NGOs and other environmental activists.
This cartoon is from a pro-Red Shirt and pro-Thaksin cartoonist. His treatment of the power plant issue, which has ignited protests from areas that generally oppose Thaksin and his political parties, is unusually neutral in tone and even positive towards the junta.
It could be because the government’s push for the power plants threatens to alienate junta supporters in the southern part of the country.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | 2 Comments

Weekly News Magazine, February 17-March 2, 2017

From Matichon Weekly, February 17-23, 2017
Main cover reads: Flowers at the end of a gun

[Refers to the reconciliation plan headed by Gen. Chalermchai Sitthisart, the army chief. It appears that the military is forcing all groups to agree to the plan and to army enforcement of their commitment.]

From Nation Weekend, February 10, 2017
Main cover reads: Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhist group

[Refers to Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, an abbot of Wat Ratchabophit, appointed by the King Rama X as the 20th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand. The article explains that the public welcomes this ordination and hopes the new Supreme Patriarch will help recover the image of Buddhism after the controversies surrounding the Dhammakaya sect.]

From Manager Weekly, February 18-24, 2017
Main cover reads: Joy of trust

[Refers to Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, an abbot of Wat Ratchabophit, appointed by the King Rama X as the 20th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand.]

Below left: “Article 44” ends “Tammy” – Dhammakaya falls from the heaven of “the Trayastrimsa” – It’s time to reform religion

[Refers to the junta’s decision to use its absolute power under Article 44 to apprehend Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhammachayo who has been evading arrest on money laundering charges.
“Tammy” is the nickname the media uses for Dhammachayo. It changes the word “Dhamma” to the feminine “Tammy” to ridiculae the monk’s eccentric use of the female suffice “ka” in speech.
“Trayastrimsa” is the name of the second heaven in Buddhist cosmology where the gods live.]

Below right: Big Tik of the NLA receives a monthly salary, but works like a part-timer.

[Refers to the absence of Prayuth’s brother, Gen. Preecha Chan-ocha (nicknamed “Tik”), from the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) despite his receiving a generous salary. According to assembly regulations, a member who fails to appear for over one-third of votes in 90 days will be removed. However, the assembly’s acting secretariat said that Gen. Preecha had permission not to attend due to other assignments.
The point of the criticism is that it appears that the junta is giving high-paying jobs to friends and family members who do not serve any real function.]

From Lokwannee, February 25-March 2, 2017
Main cover reads: Is there any hidden agenda?
Paratrooper: No one pays attention on the news about my parachute. Ha ha ha
On the parachute: NLA

[The word “parachute” in Thai can be used to mean skipping a class, a meeting, or work. This refers to PM Prayuth’s brother, who is a high-paid member of the junta’s legislature, but who never attends meetings of the body. This leads to accusations that it is giving no-show jobs it family members. The covers implies that the timing of the raids on the Dhammakaya temple are meant to divert attention from this scandal.]

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Cancel 112

From Naewna, February 10, 2017
On the paper on PM Prayuth’s back: Cancel section 112 [referring to Thailand’s strict lese majeste law]
On the sword: UN
Caption: The message to show concern from friends… to friends… !!

[Refers to the unusually frank UN condemnation of Thailand’s lese majeste law. The cartoonist is protesting the criticism of Thailand’s laws by the international body. Thais traditionally assume that, like ASEAN, international bodies should refuse to comment on the activities of any certain country.]

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Trampling on those who died for the cause

From Manager, February 7, 2017
On the tombstone: Gen. Romklao [along with his date of both and death which are too small to read here]
On the flag: Reconciliation [this word is also used to mean “harmony”]

[This shows the many groups involved in the junta’s reconciliation plan following Deputy PM Prawit’s banner of “harmony.” As they march, they trod over the grave Col. Romklao (posthumously promoted to general) who was gunned down supposedly by “men in black” during a pitched battle between the military and armed Red Shirt protesters in 2010.

These men in black were a conspicuous part of Red Shirt protests displaying their weaponry and were often seen at the front lines resisting attempts to disperse their protests in Bangkok.

The cartoonist is chiding the junta for ignoring the deaths of its own in a rush to create harmony. The Manager/ASTV newspaper in particular has often harshly attacked the military when it feels it might seek a political peace that includes a pardon for Thaksin and an absolving of the Red Shirts.

It has been difficult to assign legal culpability for actions taken during the Red Shirt sieges of Bangkok. When Thaksin-directed governments are in power, legal cases against Red Shirts are dropped or dismissed and charges are drummed up against opposition parties. When Thaksin-directed governments are out of power, the reverse happens, and the Red Shirts and Thaksin-allied politicians find themselves under legal threat again.

In all of this the military is essentially immune from legal action. The military has a self-appointed role as the protector of the nation and will brook no oversight of its decisions. Perhaps even more consequential, all sides seek to ally themselves with the army to some extent to provide backup and stability for their political ambitions.

Implicit in the Thai conceptualization of harmony (or reconciliation) is the idea that the attainment of harmony means no one is blamed and the past is forgotten. This is why activists react so strongly when these ideas are brought up. They know harmony and reconciliation mean unconditional forgiveness no matter who did what or if any wrong was done. It means protest-related deaths will remain forever unsolved. It also lays bare political groups like the Red Shirts as hungering after martyr’s deaths so they can be traded away in a future amnesty deal that absolves all sides as long as their political goals are met.

But those who protest amnesty are the minority. They are pushing back against the wider, more dominant themes of their culture. These beliefs are quite different than the beliefs assumed to be simply common sense by the Western world.

Western beliefs that free speech is the highest value and that the open airing of truth is cathartic do not apply here. The Thai focus on unity means that deference and the careful editing of one’s speech is thought to be very important. Blaming and any open discussion of issues that might cause others to “lose face” is believed, in the Thai world, to cause a violent and unreasoning reaction. To prevent this, the open truth-telling of the West is to be avoided in the name of preserving the unity of the nation’s metaphorical village. This is the impulse that underlies Thailand’s “forgive and forget” reconciliation plans over the years.

The desire for unity and Thai-style reconciliation means that during future political squabbles the army or political pressure groups like the Red Shirts will again be incentivized to provoke situations to create martyrs for their cause. This is with the aim of insisting that only a pardon or amnesty will solve the situation and usher in a political reset devoid of any finger-pointing or justice for those who died in the process.]

See also: Analysis: Thailand’s Half Democracy

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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