- 11 years ago: Thai police to be reformed, Traffic police could face charges of extortion
- Eight Years Ago: Gen. Chavalit to lead “People’s Army”
- Foreign luxury brands plot against the junta!
- Not Richard Mille
- New Year’s Cartoon: News of the Past Year
- New Year’s Cartoon: Something for the Poor
- New Year’s Cartoon: From Rooster to Dog
- Wrong purse
- Final blow
- Thaksin shifts puppets
- Weekly News Magazines: Clever, Cautious, Creative in Democracy, January, 2018
From Naewna, February 24, 2018
PM Prayuth: Sorry, all of you have the knowledge and capacity, but not well enough
On the sign: RIP 7 new ECT
Caption: Bury on the stage with a prayer for their funerals.
[Refers to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) which rejected the seven new Election Commissioners of Thailand as they said they were not qualified enough to oversee the election.
Most observers saw this as a clear attempt to stall the mechanisms to have elections.]
From Thairath, February 22, 2018
Title: Not only massage… but also swing… Everyone likes it.
On a coin bag held by woman: Elder
On a coin bag over the baby: Children
On a man’s shirt: Chatchai
Phi Nooring: Becomes a national issue
Mouse: Return the happiness to the society
[Refers to the junta’s latest development project “Than Niyom Yangyuen” or “Sustainable Thainess.”
This shows Chatchai giving money to the young and old and rocking the baby’s cradle while massaging an elderly woman (massage being a common practice thought to be good for health).
Deputy PM General Chatchai Sarikulya insisted that this project has been welcomed from people as it aims to restore reconciliation, reduce disparity and to make people respect the law with emphasis on equality and fairness. He denied that it is only intended to woo the public support towards the junta.]
From Manager, March 4, 2018
Caption: Can you guess which letter “Po pla” refers to who? [Refers to the names of people starting with the letter “Po pla” or “P” in English.]
1st row left on the paper: New song
[This refers to PM Prayuth who always issues a new song to the public that extols the good intentions of the junta.]
The top middle letter refers to Deputy PM Prawit who is still a top government minister despite suspicious about the sources of his wealth including many luxury watches.
Right: Refers to Anupong Paojinda whose nickname is Pok. He is involved in a scandal over purchasing blimps for use by the military in the deep south.
Bottom left refers to Italian-Thai Development Plc CEO Premchai Karnasuta who is facing charges for illegal hunting in a wildlife sanctuary.
Bottom right refers to school teacher Preecha Kraikruan who was allegedly filing false complaints to the police claiming a lottery win.
From Naewna, February 22, 2018
Sudarat: Screaming… Boss makes Pheng park to block the position of the first woman leader of party… not enough, also block the position of the second woman prime minister of Thailand. I will not accept this.
On car: Burn Thai party [this anti-Thaksin party uses this phrase to refer to the Pheu Thai Party and alludes to the fires set in Thailand in 2009 and 2010]
Caption: Be careful..!! the next ill-tempered auntie.
[This cartoon combines two recent news events. First are the “furious aunties” who took a hatchet to an illegally parked vehicle.
IN this cartoon, politician Sudarat attacks Thaksin’s car for apparently removing her from contention to lead his party.]
From Thairath, February 21, 2018
Title: We want to apply.
On the paper held by the judge: Establishment of the Court Marshal
In front of the table: Court of Justice
On the men’s costume from front-back: Zhan Zhao, Wang Chao, Ma Han, Zhao Hu, Zhang Long
Paper held by Bao Zhen: Guarantee by Bao Zheng
Phi Nooring: Promote justice
Mouse: Court police
[Under the junta, the Court Marshal is used for cases related to groups that criticize the junta.
The cartoon shows famous legendary Chinese figures of justice applying to sit on the military’s court. This would supposedly embarrass the court which is thought to function as a rubber stamp of the junta.
Dubbed soap operas showing the life and times of these famous figures of Chinese justice are often shown on Thai TV. It is thought they reflect the desire of Thais to have an ethical, non-corrupt legal system.]
From Naewna, February 19, 2018
Left: A bottle of oil for each. Million people, million bottles to pressure them. [referring to past Red Shirt threats to use Molotov cocktails in their protests]
On the smoke at left: Want to have an election
Right: Don’t over-react. If you dare… burn it. Then, you will have an election as you wish, kids. [this is sarcasm, telling the young protesters that they will be in trouble if they challenge the junta]
Close to the baby: Ja New’s mob
Caption: Want to have an election VS Want to stay longer
[Refers to a pro-election group led by Sirawich “Ja New” Serithiwat, a co-leader of the New Democracy Group which threatened to rally to pressure the junta to have elections this year as promised.
The cartoon claims that Ja New and his supporters are like babies–still innocent.]
From Manager, February 25, 2018
Above: We have so many of these [tanks]. After three years we still cannot make any reforms.
Below: We only have these [axes]. In only 10 minutes we can reform all the illegal fresh markets in Bangkok.
[This contrasts the might of the military, which seized the government, but still cannot dent the popularity of the parties it overthrew, with two older ladies armed with an ax.
After being filmed vandalizing an illegally parked vehicle, the ladies’ action caused a scandal that exposed the city government’s collusion in allowing illegal markets to operate.
This seems to be a lesson that violent or precipitous action caught on camera can lead to results.
Other examples of this contrast were on the covers of recent news magazines.]
From Manager, February 19, 2018
Man: Want to have an election
Caption: Once they open their months, then we can see their uvulas.
[Refers to Thai idiom “Once someone opens his mouth, then we can see his uvula” meaning that once they speak even a little bit, but we know what their hidden intentions.
This cartoonist illustrates the belief that when protesters or politicians say they want to have an election, it is because they are speaking on behalf of Thaksin.
This also illuminates the motives of those who tolerate the junta despite their corruption and ineptitude. They might feel that a return of Thaksin to power ultimately represents a greater threat of dictatorship and freedom of the press than military rules does.]
From Manager, February 18, 2018
Caption: This one is the strongest… even if it is hit by a car a thousand times, it isn’t broken.
[Refers to a lotus vase in the Government House house which was found broken. Such an incident is regarded as bad luck for the future of the junta as the lotus vases were installed on the grounds to enhance the junta’s fortunes based on the Chinese beliefs.
More on Thai belief in omens
The cartoon shows a vase with the face of embattled Deputy PM Prawit. Despite multiple damaging scandals he has been involved in, there is no way to remove him from his government post.]
Trump’s nominee to lead CIA previously ran a secret prison that tortured terror suspects – nydailynews.com, March 13, 2018
…By 2005, she was working at CIA headquarters in Langley and ordered the Thailand black site torture videos destroyed, the New York Times reported last year.
But the agency, which didn’t immediately return a request for comment, maintains her boss, Jose Rodriguez, ordered the tapes destroyed – not Haspel.
The FBI investigated the tapes’ destruction, and no one was ever charged. President Obama closed the black sites in 2009 after he took office…
Or not: Media backtracking on Haspel’s involvement in secret Thailand base
…The New York Times, for example, appended corrections both to a news story about Haspel and an editorial printed on Thursday, “Having a Torturer Lead the CIA.” The Times said it had relied on its own reporting, and said in its correction that a “former senior CIA official” had confirmed that Haspel had arrived after the interrogation was complete.
The AP on Friday issued a correction to its own stories from Tuesday and Wednesday about Haspel. The AP said that it “suggested” she oversaw the Thailand prison at the time Zubaydah was waterboarded, but that the CIA now would not confirm any details about Haspel’s role in his treatment. The AP also wrongly reported that Hansel oversaw the prison between the years 2003 and 2005…
2003: Cat’s Eye: News on the Secret Thai Prison
2003: Bangkok denies report of al-Qaeda interrogations at base
2004: Washington Post: Thaksin is an undemocratic leader tolerated only because he follows U.S. orders
2005: The accusation about a secret prison and criticism of Matichon
2006: “We have no secret cell to hold terrorists” FM
From Daily News, February 20, 2018
From left to right: Close the ears. Close the eyes. Close the mouth. Close the nose. (smog is more than standard)
[Refers to “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” which adds something like “breathe no smog.”]
From Manager, February 21, 2018
Suthep: Khun Paiboon, what should we do… he is starting to smell…!!
Paiboon: Exactly…when we first started to carry him, he was very fresh.
On the sign behind Prayuth: We support PM Prayuth to be PM one more time.
Caption: The porters are feeling uncertain.
[Paiboon Nititawan is a junta insider who has founded a political party-supposedly to support military candidates.
Suthep likewise is forming a political entity to support PM Prayuth.
Such moves did not seem unwise after several years of relative popularity by a junta that continually painted elected politicians as compromised and not as good as the patriotic military.
However, a series of scandals–and the government’s inability to deal with them–has led to a stunning collapse of public faith in the junta and military rule in general.]
From Thairath, February 17, 2018
Title: Hunters in the concrete jungle
On shirt of running man at top: People
On his sign: Want the election
On sign held by running woman: Want elections
On sign held by running man at bottom: Want elections
PM Prayuth on the right holds a sign that reads: Human rights. Thailand first.
On sign held by man behind Prayuth: Do not want the election
Mouse man: Human rights for people who think differently.
Mouse: People, not black tiger.
[This cartoon shows the apparent attitude of the military junta that seems to want to delay elections as long as possible and, in the meantime, stamping out dissent to its rule.
The cartoon references the recent apprehension of the executive of a major company allegedly hunting protected animals, including a black panther. The cartoonist likens this to the police hunting down dissenter to continued military rule.]
From Matichon Weekly, March 2-8, 2018
Main cover picture: People’s “Democrat”
Men in the picture from left to right: Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban
[Refers to the news of the establishment of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee which will have former Democrat member Suthep Thaugsuban as head of a new political party.
This may cause competition with Suthep’s old party, the Democrats, led by Abhisit Vejjajiva.
The PDRC party pledges to support PM Prayuth to be PM of the next government.
This cover combines the words “People’s” from the new People’s Democratic Reform Committee and “Democrat” from the Democrat Party together to show their linkage.]
Top right: New blood “Thanathorn-Piyabutr” start up and establishes a new political party
[Refers to the new political party established by businessman Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and anti-junta Assistant Professor Piyabutr Saengkanokkul with the aims to get the country away from junta control.]
From Siamrath Weekly Review, March 2-8, 2018
Main cover reads: “Inappropriate time”
People from left to right: Yingluck, Peathongtarn, Thaksin, Pintongtha and Panthongtae
[Refers to a photo of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, former leader Yingluck, taken in Singapore.
The article suggests the apparently deliberate circulation of the photo may not be good for the Shinawatras as it puts pressure on the junta to make sure the Shinawatras face legal consequences over the various cases they have lost.
As in lead ups to other elections seasons, Thaksin has raised his profile to suggest to his supporters that he is still keen to join in the political race. The circulation of this and other photos and the meetings Thaksin has had with Pheu Thai Party members are all thought to be part of the message that Thaksin is still in charge.
More about this: Thaksin shifts puppets]
From Manager Weekly, March 3-9, 2018
Main cover reads: “Strange” like this [yellow] Pee See: can do.
Men in the picture from left to right: Premchai and Pol Gen Srivara
[Refers to Construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta who was caught allegedly hunting protected wildlife including a black panther and barking deer in a world heritage forest.
This case has received the public attention as the public does not trust the police to investigate this case as the rich and powerful never are subject to the same legal consequences as normal folk are.
This was underlined when a photo circulated of Deputy National Police Chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul greeting Premchai in an unusually polite manner when Premchai showed up at the police station.
“Pee” means elder brother or sister. “Si” mean color and a person with color refers to a person in uniform, mostly meaning police and soldiers. This suggests a cozy relationship which will protect a tycoon like Premchai from any legal consequences.]
Top left: The conclusion of the 30-million lottery scandal. “Teacher Preecha-Jah Babin” lied. But… when will “reform the police”?
Men in the picture from left to right: Charoon Wimoon and Preecha Kraikruan
[Refers to the end of the 30-million baht lottery scandal which finally revealed that teacher Preecha and Rattanaporn (alias Jeh Babin) were alleged to have filed false complaints and giving false information to the police with the intent to cause others to face criminal charges. Those people claimed that the first prize lottery was their not retired police officer Charoon Wimoon.
This torturous investigation renewed calls for reforming the police so the public can trust them.]
Right: Disclose the list of 3 dangerous boxers; next fights of ‘Srisaket’ [will have] a remuneration of 35 million
[Refers to professional boxer Srisaket Sor Rungvisai who recently beat Juan Francisco Estrada and defended his WBC super flying weight title. Due to his victory, his next fights are believed to be with very challenging boxing and his remuneration can go up to 35 million baht.]
Bottom left: Only ‘Mae Karaked’ is not enough. Channel 3 reorganises (again) to solve a loss problem.
Couple in the picture: Meun Soontrontewa and Mae Karaked
[Refers to the famous Channel 3 drama “Buppasaniwas” (meaning they were husband and wife in a previous existence). Meun Soontrontewa and Mae Karaked are names of the leading roles of the drama. This drama helps to increase the TV ratings for Channel 3. Still it is not enough to help lift the fortunes of Channel 3 amid intense competition in the TV sector.]
Right: Buppasaniwas is coming. “ThepThaug’s Party” forgets “reform” and supports “PM Tu” only
Men in the picture from left to right: Suthep Thaugsuban and PM Prayuth
[Refers to the news of the establishment of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee led by Suthep Thaugsuban which will field a party in the upcoming election. The PDRC party vowed to support PM Prayuth to be the PM for the next government. This headline mimics with the famous drama “Buppasaniwas” meaning people who were related to each other in a past life referring to the close relationship between Suthep and PM Prayuth (whose nickname is “Tu”).]
From Lokwannee, March 4-10, 2018
Main cover reads: We will do as our promise… not really
[Refers to the junta that promised the public to have an election soon. However, they have used every mechanism to delay elections. This cover illustrates that while the junta is saying that they will do as they promise, they also keep their fingers crossed which means that they do not really do what they say. Meanwhile, people of all political colors raise up the anti-junta three-finger salute.]
From Thairath, February 15, 2018
Left: The poll reports that 68 percent of Thai people believe that even if tycoon Premchai did commit a major offense, he is still not being jailed even the court ordered him to be jailed…
Middle, man on the right: …as there is a powerful person that helps him escape. This will help the country’s investment.
Man on the right: What can prove this?
Right: Thailand ranks no. 1 of the world’s best countries for investment.
[We are not sure we understand this correctly. Perhaps the joke is this: If construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta (who was arrested for allegedly hunting wildlife) can escape from the law, this will encourage foreigners to invest in Thailand because, if they have money, they can do whatever they want.]
From Thairath, February 13, 2018
Title: Sustainable poverty alleviation?
On big bag held by Gen. Chatchai: Than Niyom Yangyuen [Sustainable Thainess]
On his suit: Chatchai
On small bags from top to bottom: Low income people; baby; elder
Phi Nooring: Improve the quality of life
Mouse: Does it really return the happiness?
[Refers to the junta new development project Than Niyom Yangyuen or “Sustainable Thainess.” General Chatchai Sarikulya said that this project is welcomed from people as it aims to restore reconciliation, reduce disparity and make people respect the law with an emphasis on equality and fairness. However, there is a concern that this project is just the junta’s populist project to distribute free cash and woo public support.]
From Thairath, February 11, 2018
Title: How can anyone think like this?
Top left: [How can anyone think like this?] Set a thief to catch a thief
[Refer to the junta’s recent development project “Sustainable Thainess.” The cartoon seems to equate this with U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” policy.
This part of the cartoon uses the idiom “Set a thief to catch a thief” to equate PM Prayuth’s “Sustainable Thainess” initiative with Trump’s much derided “America first” policy.]
Top middle: [How can anyone think like this?] Swear in front of the god to judge who is the owner of the 30 million baht lottery ticket!
[Refers to a lottery prize dispute. One of the persons who claims to be an owner of the lottery called the other claimant to joint him to swear in front of a shrine to show he was telling the truth. However, the other person did not show up. Thus, the person who swore in front of the shrine said it proves he is the owner of the winning lottery ticket.
The joke is that it is ludicrous to depend on this sort of superstitious pledge to determine the veracity of a person’s claim.]
Top right: [How can anyone think like this?] Sometimes, the mother gives [her daughter] to a senior [boy] in Mattayom 3 [a grade in Thai schools around 15 years old]. Sometimes, she gives her [daughter] to the school principal [meaning she lets her daughter choose between staying with her two lovers–a student and the school principal].
[Refers to the scandal where a young girl had affairs with both a fellow student and her school principal. According to her mother, she said to that her daughter used to stay with her boyfriend. Then she also started an affair with the school principal.
Her mother at first insisted that it was up to her daughter to decide which person she wanted. However, as rumors of this situation spread and she was pressured by the public, she decided to report this situation to the police.
The cartoon shows the young girl drowning as she was in a situation where she was too young and no one cared to help her.]
Bottom left: [How can anyone think like this?] Enjoy nature like a tycoon who has a close ties with the officers
[Refers to construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta who was arrested for allegedly hunting wildlife including a black panther in the World Heritage Thunyai Naresuan sanctuary. People are afraid that he will use his money as a bribe to the officers to help him escape from the charges.]
Bottom middle: [How can anyone think like this?] Being a police chief as a sideline
[Refers to former national chief Somyot Poompunmuang who admitted that he is a close friend with the fugitive owner of the Victoria’s Secret Massage brothel. He said that he borrowed money from Kampol several times due for stock investments. Also, he said that he was a businessman who liked to invest in the stock market while being a police was his sideline job. This was a shocking statement coming from a person who was once the head police officer in the country.
The cartoon shows the police chief as being just another prostitute offering himself for money. Women who engage in the profession sometimes refer to it as a “sideline” (as opposed to main) job thus echoing the police chief’s statement.]
Bottom right: [How can anyone think like this?] Recommended menu waiting for Michelin to give the stars, black panter’s tail soup from a sanctuary.
[Refers again to Premchai Karnasut who was arrested for allegedly hunting wildlife including a black panther in the World Heritage Thunyai Naresuan sanctuary.]
From Siamrath Weekly Review, February 23-March 2, 2018
Main cover reads: Signs of horror
[Refers to events happening around Government House recently. These raised concern that they may indicate bad luck for the junta. The incidents were broken lotus pots and the two crows spotted killing a pigeon. After these incidents, red Chinese lanterns decorated Government House. These were thought to be an attempt to reverse the bad luck.
More on Thais and the belief in portents and omens]
From Matichon Weekly, February 23-March 1, 2018
Main cover picture: Crisis on ‘having faith’
Men in the picture include Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam
[Refers to the decline in of junta’s popularity and its obvious attempts to delay elections.]
Top right: From a lotus pond–Streblus asper pot [a type of ornamental tree grown in a pot]. From red lantern-incense-36 incenses. The fortune teller sees ‘intense politics’
[Refers to the supposedly weird incidents that occurred inside the grounds of Government House. Some people believed it may be a sign of the bad fortune of the junta amid a decline in their popularity.]
From Manager Weekly, February 24-March 2, 2018
Main cover reads: #auntyteam
[Refers to cases of two women using an axe to attack a pickup truck parked in front of their house. Those women received a support from the public as it became clear the area they lived in had several large markets that were operating illegally with full knowledge of city officials. Social media used #teamaunties to show support for these women. After the publicity, government agencies were forced to investigate the illegal markets that were causing traffic jams.
The axe over a map of the nation might suggest that the aunties’ success in taking matters into their own hands to expose corruption might be a model to be applied for many issues in Thailand.]
Top: “I’m so crazy. All the money I spent could pay a down payment for a Ferrari car. Ota who eagerly paid unlimited amounts for “BNK48”
[Refers to an interview with Mina Wongchanapibol, part of a fan club for the popular girl group “BNK48.” This band is a sub-band from Japanese famous girl group franchise “AKB48.”
The word “Ota” comes from “Otaku” meaning a person who is a huge fan of something.
Mina is a fan of both AKB 48 and BNK48. He paid a huge of money to attend the groups’ concerts and gatherings and to buy goods related to the groups.]
Bottom left: Explore the kingdom of Assumption, ABAC Saint Gabriel’s College” Interest and conflict (billion)???
[Refers to a recent protest from hundreds of teachers, parents, students and alumni of Saint Gabriel’s College calling its director, Brother Assistant Professor Vinai Viriyavidhayavongs, to resign due to an alleged lack of transparency in the way the school operates. This article talks about the allegedly large amounts of money and conflicts of interests among three linked schools.]
Right: Shark smells the blood. Somyos sideline wrong move causes damage to the football association.
[Refers to former police chief and now President of Thailand’s football association Pol Gen Somyos Pumpanmuang. He has been criticized after he admitted borrowing Bt300 million from a wanted brothel owner. He also admitted he only did police work “as a sideline.” The admission that a man who held one of the most consequential posts in the country only considered his work there as a “sideline” shocked many.
“Shark smells the blood” may imply that those who considered Somyos as one of the most corrupt police figures in Thailand are eager to pursue his connections to the underworld.]
From Lokwannee, February 24-March 3, 2018
Main cover reads: #auntyteam… the trendiest
[Refers to the case of two women using an axe to attack a pickup parked in front of their house. After the clip of this incident went viral on social media, the women received support from the public as it became clear that government officials were colluding to allow illegal markets to operate in the area which caused traffic jams.
Social media used #teamaunties to show support for those women.
As is common in pro-Red Shirt media, the cover seems to suggest that people should take assertive action against Thaksin foes such as the military junta.]
From Naewna, February 16, 2018
PM Prayuth: We are on the same boat, love each other, will never leave each other.
On boat: Government cabinet
Above the head of left fighting man: Teerakiat
Above the head of right fighting man: Big Pom [nickname of Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan]
[This refers to comments made by Education Secretary Teerakiat Jaroensettasin implied that a cabinet member embroiled in a scandal should just resign.
Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan has been engulfed in controversy over luxury watches he was seen wearing and the sources of his income.
The inability or unwillingness of the prime minister to sack Prawit over this distracting scandal has hurt the image of both the cabinet and military rule.
This cartoon shows the dissension is also impacting those in the cabinet itself.]
From Manager, February 12, 2018
Caption: Bad deeds… do not have to wait for the next life.
Black panther: Hey… you know now how it feels to be shoot and surrounded until dead… how much torture it is…
[Refers to the capture of an Ital-Thai Company executive at a hunting came in a protected nature reserve. The carcass of a protected black panther was at the camp.
There was an uproar on social media attacking the official for allegedly hunting protected animals.
The cartoonist jokes that castigation on Facebook is punishing the official in the here and now where formerly punishment would have to wait for karmic retribution and suffering in a following life.]
From Thairath, February 9, 2018
Title: The last picture
On panther: Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary
In the panther’s right eye are the scales of justice with a bag of money outweighing the other side in which “law” is crossed out.
Mouse man: Prey of some bad people.
Mouse: Feel sorry for the black tiger.
[Another reference to the Italian-Thai Company executive caught allegedly hunting animals in a wildlife refuge.]
From Manager, February 8, 2018
Premchai: I do not hunt… these carcasses, I borrowed them from a friend of mine.
[President of Italian-Thai Development, Premchai Karnasuta, was been arrested for alleged poaching in the Thung Yai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary.
Such hunting scandals have long been a fixture of Thai business, politics, and military with “big men” affirming their status and untouchability with furtive hunting trips for rare and endangered animals.
Here, Premchai, shown in the widely circulated photograph taken during his arrest, employs the same excuse as Deputy PM Prawit.
When commenting on how he came by the many expensive luxury watches he was photographed wearing, he claimed that they were all borrowed from friends.]
From Naewna, February 8, 2018
Premchai: Take it easy… I’m not wrong… This gun belongs to my friend which I borrowed it from 555
On Premchai’s body: Tycoon trespassed a sanctuary for hunting
On the park ranger’s back: Law
[Same idea as the above cartoon, this time with Premchai claiming the guns were borrowed.
“555” is the sound of laughing as the number 5 is pronounced “ha” in Thai.]
From Thairath, February 8, 2018
Title: You’re more black-hearted than the panther’s hide
On Premchai’s back: Tycoon set up a tent to hunt protected animals such as barking deer and black panthers in Thungyai Sanctuary.
On the paper on the tree: Country’s law
Phi Nooring: The elite challenge the law
From Manager, February 20, 2018
Thaksin: I am sorry Noi [Sudarat Keyuraphan]… I think puppet Pheng [Phongsak Raktaphongphaisaan] is easier…
At right in the darkness is a discarded puppet of former PM Yingluck.
Caption: The boss has a new puppet
[“Noi” is the nickname of Sudarat Keyuraphan. “Pheng” is the nickname Phongsak Raktaphongphaisaan.
This cartoon shows the intense speculation about who Thaksin will pick to head his Pheu Thai Party in the next elections.
Initially Thaksin seemed to indicate Sudarat would head the Pheu Thai. This caused much consternation in the party as Sudarat is a Bangkok-based MP not connected to the bulk of Pheu Thai power brokers and supporters in the Northeast.
She is also a conventional politician with her own power base and its attendant obligations. This meant that, unlike all former prime ministers appointed and controlled by Thaksin, Sudarat might have the influence to manage the party for her own ends and not for Thaksin’s goals.
It was thought a more conventional politician like Sudarat might be necessary to lead a credible challenge to a junta that had been relatively successful in governing and was sending signals it would field a military party to contest elections.
However, in recent months, the junta has endured a near collapse of credibility in a series of scandals. These scandals exposed how the military government cannot even live up to the standards of normal elected governments which they have long derided.
Thus, future leadership of the Pheu Thai may have again shifted to a less prominent figure, Phongsak Raktaphongphaisaan, who is seen as more directly controllable by Thaksin from overseas.
Underlining the rising optimism about opposition prospects in a future election, Thaksin emerged on the world stage again with multiple meetings with Pheu Thai Party figures in nearby countries. This has been normal procedure for Thaksin in the run up to elections to send the message to wavering MPs that the party is still his and decisions go through him.
The junta’s precipitous loss of public approval comes at a perfect time for Thaksin as there were rumors nearly every month throughout 2017 that chunks of MPs, formerly aligned with Thaksin’s political machine, were investigating new political groupings.
With the junta struggling and Thaksin openly displaying his mastery of the Pheu Thai once again, rebel MPs will think twice before jumping ship.
No Thai political season is complete without warnings and threats of violence. Those who seek to decisively send the military back to its barracks warn that a repeat of the bloody political events of 1973 or 1991 is guaranteed if the military dares to “cling to power” by returning an unelected military figure to the premiership or otherwise stymie a Pheu Thai return to government if it wins a majority of MPs.
At the same time, analysts outside of Thailand, both Thai and non-Thai, are busy advising their clients (and anyone else who will listen) that Thaksin has retired from politics and has no connection with politics in Thailand. There is also a concerted effort to paint the present Thai political situation as having nothing to do with Thaksin, but really simply being a desire by Thais to end the military dictatorship and return democracy.]
From Manager, February 6, 2018
Caption: Feeling pity for Pom… wherever he goes, he will be made fun for the watch scandal.
On the sign: ASEAN Defense Minister Retreat
[Refers to Deputy PM Prawit who attended the the Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM Retreat) in Singapore from February 5-7, 2018. After facing public pressure for resignation due to the luxury watch scandal, Deputy PM Prawit, whose nickname is “Pom,” still continued his work as usual.
This cartoon reflects a certain Thai feeling that foreigners will react with ridicule to a Thai who is under cloud of shame at home.]
From Naewna, February 3, 2018
Prawit: If you people do not want me, I am ready to go –forward
[Deputy PM Prawit, perhaps the most powerful person in the junta, has been best by scandal over his alleged ownership of luxury items far beyond what a career military man could ever afford.
He mentioned to the press that, if the people did not want him, he would resign from his position. However, there seems little possibility he can be ousted from his post as long as he and the military hold absolute power.]
From Manager, February 2, 2018
Left, PM Prayuth: Will you choose me… or him, like the same [as the past]?
On the suit of the dirty man: Politician
Caption: In the past, it was easy to choose.
Right, PM Prayuth: Will you choose me… or him, like the same [as the past]?
Caption: When he stays longer… it is difficult to choose
[After the coup, the junta received general support from the public with their bold claims that they were different from politicians, particularly in terms of corruption.
While the military has never performed well in the past when they seized power and governed the country, this time they were lucky for several years with no major scandals. They had the upper hand and continually stated that they were superior to elected politicians.
However, Prawit’s luxury watch scandal–easily dealt with by having him leave his post–exposed the military as actually inferior to elected politicians. Any civilian government who had a cabinet member under such a scandal would have been quickly replaced.
As perhaps the most powerful military figure in the entire junta, Prawit’s “big man” military mentality could not allow him to accept having to humiliate himself and be forced from his post.
This made junta proclamations of how they were better than the elected officials they overthrew seem empty. It also threw their multiple changes of the election date into a harsher light.
So, junta supporters have been disappointed and pro-Thaksin forces have been cheered that the military seems to be willing to exhaust their credibility over the inability to remove a single military officer from the cabinet.]
From Manager, January 28, 2018
Left, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat: He changed the name of my Article 17 to Article 44.
Right, Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram: Same as me… he changed the name of “state conventions” to “Thai values.”
Caption: Two idols of Tu [“Tu” being the nickname of PM Prayuth]
[Refers to PM Prayuth who once again allowed the date for new elections to be extended, supposedly to allow time for more political reforms.
This cartoonist sarcastically notes that what the junta is trying to do is not the democratic way and is more similar to the era of two dictators, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat and Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram.
Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat made sure his edicts were technically legal and exercised absolute power under Article 17. The present junta has Article 44.
Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram attempted to modernize Thai culture with a series of behavior-modifying rules for citizens. In Thai is this is something like “popularisms” but is usually translated to something like “state conventions” meaning the standards of behavior people should follow. The present regime promotes its own “Thai values” to instill its own moral code into the populace.]
From Thairath, January 27, 2018
A foreigner: The US Ambassador and EU representatives would like to know when Thailand will have an election as mentioned in the road map.
Middle: Man with glasses: Let me tell you something first why Thailand is number of 1 of the most popular countries for the tourists even ahead of the US and EU.
Right: Because Thai people are friendly, polite, and do not intervene in the elections of other countries.
[Refers to the pressure from outside countries, particularly the US and EU, on the junta to have elections as they have promised in their road map.
This cartoon reflects a common perspective of Thais in relation to advice from foreign powers. This perspective essentially translates to “it’s none of your business.”
This attitude stems from the Thai inability and disinclination to firmly explain their positions to outsiders. In the present case, the military is playing a game to stall and dismantle Thaksin’s political coalition that still threatens to return to power after elections.]