Feb 21st, 2017

The long road map

From Thairath, February 3, 2017
Title: Road map… as long as you want it
At left, Prayuth is singing a song he wrote: Give us some time. We’ll keep our promises. [meaning the military needs to stay in power to reform the country]
On his shirt: A role model [perhaps harking back to Thailand’s military dictators who modeled themselves as ideal men who were an example to others]
On the soldier’s back at right: “Return the happiness” team [referring to another slogan of the junta]
On the top carpet: Reform-national strategy-power-power-power-power
On the middle carpet: Reconciliation 2560 [2017]
On the bottom carpet: Reconciliation 2552-2557 [2009-2014]
In front of the jail: People who have different opinions
Phi Nooring: Reconciliation as Uncle Tu’s favor [“Uncle Tu” is PM Prayuth]
Paper held by mouse man Phi Nooring: Release Pai [student activist Pai Dao Din who is jailed and charged with lese majeste]
Mouse: Justice must come first.

[This cartoon criticizes the junta’s new reconciliation plan and notes that this is just the latest of a long line of reconciliation plans. It also points out the “big man” dictatorial nature of the PM and how he seems to be following a plan of his own whims.
The cartoon contends that real reconciliation should include (or start with) a reform of the justice system and the release of those accused of lese majeste. It also expresses concern that the junta may use the reconciliation as the tool for prolonging their power and postponing elections.]

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Video of Bangkok Electric Trams (1893-1968)

More: Bangkok Trams (1894-1968) Main Page

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We are not muzzling the press!


From Naewna, February 2, 2017
Above the cage: Media Control Act
PM Prayuth: Ha, ha, ha… We aren’t controlling the media, but we are going to protect them….
[Normally the Naewna newspaper is pro-military and anti-Thaksin, but this cartoon chides the military government for enacting new measures to muzzle the press.]

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Unfair MOU

From Thairath, January 28, 2017
Title: The judge is neutral… no conflict with anyone else?
On the document being held by the “judge” who is actual a military man representing the ruling junta: MOU of harmony.
On the man who is being beaten: Democracy
On the hammer: Big power
Mouse man: Join in together to play outside of rules.
Mouse: Playing a harmony game.

[This criticizes the junta’s push to have all opposing political factions sign a memorandum of understanding that will outlaw further political conflicts including attempts to occupy Bangkok.
The cartoonist contends that the MOU is an unfair collusion between the military and groups who oppose Thaksin and his Red Shirts.
Those anti-Thaksin groups are represented in the cartoon by a protester with a whistle and hammer. These groups attempted to disrupt snap elections that the former Phea Thai government called to legitimize its rewriting of the constitution to allow Thaksin to return to power from his exile abroad.]

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Again: Thais won’t fight corruption!


From Manager, February 2, 2017
Man on the left: Hurry up… I bring people involved with the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal to feed to you.
On his shirt: NACC UK
A man on the right: No! You must thoroughly mash it up first!
On his shirt: NACC Thailand

[Refers to the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal involving Thailand (among other countries) that was uncovered by British regulators. Thai regulators never found this corruption which had been going on for decades. The cartoon criticizes the slow response of the Thai NACC (the National Anti-Corruption commission) toward this issue even thought they had knowledge that the UK was investigating the issue.]

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Collapse of State Enterprises

From Thairath, January 27, 2017
Title: Disaster day.
On the jet: Reveal bribery.
From left there is a Thai airways plane and logos from three state enterprises: PTT (Petroleum Authority of Thailand), PEA (Provincial Electricity Authority) and MEA (Metropolitan Electricity Authority)
Mouse man: Collapse of state enterprises.
Mouse: Cleaning up corruption.

[This cartoon points out that several Thai state enterprises have been recently been involved in corruption scandals.
During his time as prime minister, Thaksin attempted to privatize Thai state enterprises and this became a point of contention for pro- and anti-Thaksin groups.
Thaksin’s policy was in line with the international trend toward privatization to create more responsive, transparent and business-like running of these bodies.
Critics contended that the enterprises would be sold off at fire-sale prices and funneled to business entities connected to Thaksin allies–and often to overseas buyers.
To combat this, feelings of patriotism were fired up to create public opposition to the sales. This was the idea that protection of valued Thai resources should take precedence over converting these enterprises to businesses that put profits first and might possibly cut jobs for state workers–all the while enriching Thaksin allies.
The recent spate of scandals–especially after local Thai corruption bodies failed to find any wrongdoing–is ammunition to those who still wish to see Thai state enterprises privatized in the name of efficiency and transparency.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | 1 Comment

20 Years Ago: When Leonardo DiCaprio Hit ‘The Beach’

Hollywood Flashback: When Leonardo DiCaprio Hit ‘The Beach’ in Berlin
…However, the Fox thriller, also starring Tilda Swinton and Robert Carlyle, didn’t meet its blockbuster expectations and was altogether panned by critics. It was further clouded by controversy: the studio was sued for damaging the Thai environment during the shoot and, after its protest-filled premiere in the Asian country, Thai politicians called for the film to be banned for its depiction of local drug culture and disrespect to Buddhism…

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Thais can’t fight corruption

From Manager, January 26, 2017
PM Prayuth: This is the salary used to pay the NACC to fight corruption in Thailand… I will give all this to you because your work is more deserving than them.
On the table at left: NACC [Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission]
On the men’s shirts: UK’s NACC

[Refers to the case of the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office alleged that Rolls-Royce representatives, over decades, paid bribes to intermediaries in Thai Airways to buy their engines.
The cartoon jokes that Thailand’s Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission was unable to uncover the wronging and is not doing its job.]

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Prayuth and Thaksin feel the same way about the media!


From Naewna, February 1, 2017
Left: Freedom of the press in Thaksin’s era
Right: Freedom of the press in Uncle Tu’s [PM Prayuth’s] era
Caption: The same place at the same time

[This refers to how elected Prime Minister Thaksin and now military junta leader Prayuth both have worked to restrict freedom of the press. The bird represents the press.
The cartoon portrays a notorious incident from Thaksin’s time as prime minister when he started using an “X” paddle to refuse to answer questions he did not like (Thaksin surprises reporters with X sign). The current regime has pushed restrictive licensing rules for media which many see as a dangerous return to the past when the media had much less freedom.]

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Weekly News Magazines, February 3-17, 2017

From Matichon Weekly, February 3-9, 2017
Main cover picture: Mr. Deal

[Refers to a reconciliation plan led by Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan. Deputy PM Prawit is believed to be working behind the scenes with various political parties to accept the junta’s reconciliation plan.]

Top right: Namtan ‘sweet’ million views. The victory of the loser.

[Refers to Miss Thailand Universe Chalida ‘Namtan’ Suansane. Although she did not win Miss Universe, she was very popular in social media. All her clips posted through the social media had millions of views. “Namtan” means “sweet.”]

From Nation Weekend, February 3, 2017
Main cover reads: Secrets, Trickery and Camouflage. Underground radio on the [other] side of the Mekong

[Refers to the Federated Thai State underground radio station which is run by an anti-monarchy revolutionary group. This group is in Laos and broadcasts anti-monarchy programs to Thailand. This group is composed of hardcore Red Shirts and pro-Thaksin activists who fled to to exile in Laos to avoid arrest.
Implicit in the insistence that Thaksin be pardoned is a veiled threat that revolutionary opposition to the monarchy can be fomented if Thaksin is not treated fairly. Red Shirt media nearly always includes allusions to historical incidents of peoples’ movements overthrowing monarchies.
Recently, Laos’ defense minister visited Thailand and Deputy PM Prawit expressed his concerned about Laos allowing revolutionary groups to operate there. This is thought to mean that Laos will crack down on the revolutionary groups operating on their soil.]

Top-right: Tears of ‘Namtan’ and the crown strategy

[Refers to Miss Thailand Universe Chalida ‘Namtan’ Suansane who competed in the Miss Universe pageant. The article is about how to win the hearts of people and the competition.]

From Manager Weekly, February 4-10, 2016
Main cover reads: Reconciliation-bribery [black] Ask [red] ‘Jae’

[Refers to Thaksin’s sister Yaowapa Wongsawat whose nickname is Dang. “Jae” is a Chinese word meaning as big sister. Thus she is called “Jae Dang” by the media to imply she is the older sister of Thaksin and thus a powerful political player. She has been accused of benefiting from the rice pledging scheme and other related bribery issues including the Rolls-Royce scandal.
She is thought to be a key person to realize the junta’s reconciliation plan as Thaksin’s family would have to spread money around to placate the Red Shirt leaders who have risked so much for Thaksin. They would then also have to placate Red Shirt followers and get them to participate in the reconciliation.
The title also implies that Yaowapa is not interested in reconciliation, but only the enrichment of her own family.
For the translation ‘ถามเจ๊ดูสิ’ is is something like ‘ask ‘Jae’? The word ‘ดูสิ’ means ‘let’s ask her.’]

Top: Secret reconciliation deal part 3. Combine-Touch on

[Refers to the reconciliation plan led by Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwong. This plan will be the third reconciliation plan since Thaksin was overthrown in a coup ion 2006.]

Bottom left: Don’t you dare! Niece of [yellow] ‘Pat’ [white] beautiful and hard slap [yellow] ‘Naff’ is very hot.

[Refers to Naff, Napapa ‘Patt’ Tantrakul’s niece. She and Patt were in the news about having a fight with a woman who was the new girlfriend of Patt’s ex-boyfriend.]

Right: Difficulty which has to pass. To cheer up ‘Patt Napapa’

[Refers to Actress Napapa ‘Patt’ Tantraku’s life and recent pregnancy. Her husband, Benz Racing, is accused of being involved with the money-laundering drug network of Xaysana Keophimpha.]

From Lokwannee, February 11-17, 2017
Main cover reads: #Release Pai [small] 30 media organizations don’t forget to fight for people’s freedom
On the smoke below: Reform the justice [system]. Reform the military. Reform media. etc.

[This cover calls on the media to fight for the release of political student activist Pai Dao Din who was jailed for forwarding and commenting on a BBC article deemed insulting to the monarchy.
The cover implies that while the media and other organizations have called for reform for many issues (often echoing the junta’s calls for reform), they should not forget about ensuring the freedom of the people as well.]

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All must be humbled

From Arun, January 26, 2017
Box on the top: Arun cartoon; Arun Watcharasawad [referring to the name of the column and the cartoonist.]
Title on the right: Fighting partners
Left boxes from top to bottom: NACC [National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand]; Pheu Thai [political party oust in 2014; directed by Thaksin and his family]; PDRC [essentially the anti-Thaksin Yellow Shirts]; UDD [the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts]; political parties; military; democracy; dictator
Middle boxes: Reconciliation [the word is split between the two boxes]
Right box: Reconciliation

[This chart illustrates the conditions the junta has set to allow new elections. Like many of Arun’s cartoons, it subtly or shyly criticizes the junta and its constraints on society.
The cartoon suggests that all factions of power must be impossibly and unrealistically cowed for an election to take place.]

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Trump

From Daily News, January 25, 2017
On the tornadoes: Stop.
On the man’s back: Trump.

[Not entirely sure of the meaning here. Perhaps that Trump should stop causing problems (represented here by the tornadoes).]

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Weekly News Magazines, January 27-February 10, 2017

From Lokwannee, Feb 4-10, 2017
Main cover reads: 3 pictures stolen (Coup d’état is not a major offense?)
Under the frames from left to right: Freedom, equality and brotherhood

[This cover parodies the news of a Thai-high ranking officer from the Ministry of Commerce who inexplicably stole three paintings from a hotel in Japan. The public strongly criticized the official and called for strong punishment.
However, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam called the public to calm down as the Ministry of Commence set up a team to investigate the incident.
All of this–the arrogance and selfishness of a government official in stealing painting and the attempt by the government to downplay the incident and assign a committee to handle it–smacks of business as usual for the government. In particular, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam’s response creates the impression that the offense was a minor one.
In any event, the official who stole the paintings resigned his position over this “minor” incident.
The cover contends the military stole Thailand’s “Freedom, equality and brotherhood” (represented by the missing paintings) and for this “minor” offense, the military should step down from its role in government.]

From Matichon Weekly, Jan 2-Feb 2, 2017
Main cove reads: Mis [red] Ter [yellow] ‘Re’ [red] conciliation

[This cover implies that Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda is behind the scenes guiding the reconciliation plan of the junta–particularly for the yellow and red factions.]

On the left: Bribery of ‘Rolls-Royce’ impacts the world. Thai Airways-PTT affected. The NACC plans to investigate politicians involved.

[Refers to the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal in which senior officers of the company confessed to paying bribes to Thai Airways high-ranking officers, politicians and others.]

From Nation Weekend, Jan 27, 2017
Main cover reads: Lao mafia under the shadow of left-side influential person.

[Refers to Laos drug lord Xaysana Keopimpha (pictured) who was arrested in Thailand. His network has cultivated unprecedented connections with powerful persons in Laos including politicians and Thai celebrities believed to have assisted him with money laundering and asset concealment.
“Left-side” refers to Laos being on the left side of the Mekong River. This is because some non-Western cultures do not always conceptualize maps as having north at the top. For instance, Thais often visualize the Mekong River as an area from the river source (at the bottom of a map) to the direction headed to the sea (at the top of the map). Thus, Laos would be on the left side.]

66/23 Expired drug [yellow] ‘Tu-Pom’ refuse to leave [“Tu” refers to PM Prayuth’s nickname. “Pom” is Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan’s nickname.]

[66/23 is the reference number of a prime minister’s order on the measures to combat communism issued in 2523 or the year 1980 by then Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda.
This same model is believed to be behind present reconciliation efforts, thought to be spearheaded by Prem, who is now Privy Council President.
As the original orders included amnesty, the prospect of this reconciliation has grabbed the attention of those who fear Thaksin will try to use it to negotiate amnesty along with factions of anti-monarchy Red Shirts who have been living overseas.
“Expired drug” characterizes the order as old “medicine” used for the issue of communists. “Refuse to leave” implies that the powerful duo of Prawit and Prayuth will not cede power until their reconciliation MOU is signed by all parties.]

From Manager Weekly, Jan 28-Feb 3, 2017
Main cover reads: Cheaters shouldn’t have a place to stand?
On the podium: Anti-Corruption Organization (Thailand)
The man is PM Prayuth.
Company logos:
(1st column) Rolls-Royce, Thai Airways, Metropolitan Electricity Authority, GT200
(2nd column) PTT Plc., AOT, Sky Dragon
(3rd column) TOT, another we do not know
(4th column) Provincial Electricity Authority
(5th column) King Power
[This illustrates the ironic actions of the junta led by PM Prayuth. The junta has strongly committed to fight corruption. However, many companies and groups related to corruption still seem to be immune from meaningful investigations over alleged.]

Top: Secret deal on reconciliation part 3. Military kisses politician’s mouth [bold] to set up the national government

[Photos top: Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thaksin Shinawatra, [bottom] Anutin Charnvirakul, Newin Chidchob.
This refers to a supposedly secret deal between the junta and politicians and political groups to build reconciliation before elections.]

Bottom left: Crown or not crown! ‘Namtan-Chalida’ won the hearts of people around the world

[Refers to Miss Thailand Universe Chalida ‘Namtan’ Suansane. Even though she didn’t receive a crown as Miss Universe, she won people’s heart with her beautiful and glorious appearance.]

Right: Thairath TV didn’t hire him. ‘Chuwit’ bought the airtime.

[Refers to Chuwit Kamolvisit’s new TV show on Thairath TV. This reveals that Chuwit is not a celebrity hire for the network, but simply buys the airtime for his show.]

Posted in Thai Newspapers and Magazines | 4 Comments

Who to investigate?

From Thairath, January 13, 2017
Left: The story about me ordering the kidnap-murder of a tomboy is not true, the witnesses are framing me…
Middle: The investigators are clever, I know well because I was a superintendent [of a police station].
Offier: You know all very well, then what do you want us to do?
Right: Change the investigators team to the superintendent [of the police station] who was investigated the inTeacher Jomsup case.

[This refers to a case involving a love triangle that ended in murder. In the cartoon, the person jailed for the offense asks that his case be investigated by the same person in care of the notorious Jomsup case. In that case, the police appeared to have knowingly convicted the wrong persona. Thus, the person in jail (who is guilty) hopes the incompetent or corruptible police will not convict the guilty person.]

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Sucking time

From Thairath, January 24, 2017
Title: Sucking time to the past.
On the papers being sucked into the engine: agent commission fees; bribery; Thai Airways board
Skulls on right: Corruption
Mouse man: Can’t escape of what you did.
Mouse: Good people do not cheat.

[This refer to the bribery of Rolls Royce by Thai officials over the years.]

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CIA deputy director linked to torture at Thailand black site

CIA deputy director linked to torture at Thailand black site – The Guardian, February 3, 2017
…She briefly ran a black site in Thailand where suspected al-Qaida members Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were tortured in 2002, and Haspel later helped carry out an order that the CIA destroy its waterboarding videos, US officials told Reuters and Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
CIA cables on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah at the site, codenamed Cat’s Eye, were declassified last month. They revealed he was waterboarded 83 times in a month and had his head repeatedly slammed into walls.
…Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, said in an article endorsing Haspel on Thursday that she had drafted a cable instructing a “field station” to destroy videotapes of CIA interrogations…

Excerpts From Newly Disclosed Documents on C.I.A. Torture – NYT, January 19, 2107

Past articles on the Thai secret prison: “Cat’s Eye” (2003-2017)

Earliest mentions of the Thai secret prison

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Thaksin wasn’t involved

From Naewna, January 25, 2017
Left: The Rolls-Royce bribery year 2547-2548 [year 2004-2005]
Right: Thaksin’s government year 2544-2549 [year 2001-2006]
Caption: I wasn’t involved….I was just a bystander.

[Refers to the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal in which bribes were allegedly paid to Thai government and Thai Airways officials. This appears to be another of the seemingly endless scandals that that happened during Thaksin’s time as prime minister. The cartoon mocks the denials of Thaksin’s spokesmen asserting that Thaksin has never been involved in this sort of impropriety.]

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Weekly News Magazines, January 21-February 3, 2017

From Nation Weekend, January 20, 2017
Main cover reads: The death of ‘Sapae-ing’ The southern fire has not been ended yet.

[Refers to the death of southern separatist movement leader Sapai-ing Basor at the age of 81. He was in self-imposed exiled in Malaysia. Some observers hoped that his death would end the terrorism in the Thai deep south, but the articles explains that many complicating factors remain to be resolved.]

Top right: To grab a goat to match a sheep. The power fighting. [yellow] “Police-Justice”

[This words mirror the Thai proverb “to grab a goat to match a sheep” meaning as “haste makes waste” in English or literally something like “using a goat as a quick substitute for what you really want–a sheep”.
This refers to the case of Jomsap Saenmuagkote who claims she is a scapegoat in an accident charge and was jailed for years. Her case has caused infighting between the police and the justice system over police wrongdoing.]

From Matichon Weekly, January 23-26, 2017
Main cover reads: The strategy of release from ‘jail’ – Chuwit Kamolvisit

[Refers to outspoken former MP Chuwit Kamolvisit who was released under an amnesty granted to mark HM King Vajiralongkorn’s accession to the throne. He was jailed for the 2003 demolition of bars and shops at Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Square night entertainment area. Since his relase he has gone on a publicity blitz to promote his new TV network. In the article Chuwit shares his experiences serving time in jail.]

On the right: To grab a goat to match a sheep. Case of woman teacher’s accident. The bet is ‘high’ for the justice process.

[Another articles about Jomsap Saenmuagkote (also employing the “grab a goat to match a sheep” phrase) as explained above.
The article predicts that the results of the review of the case will bring justice.]

From Manager Weekly, January 21-27, 2017
Main cover reads: Mission to [white] order the goat to be the sheep

[Another articles about Jomsap Saenmuagkote (also employing the “grab a goat to match a sheep” phrase) as explained above.]

Secret reconciliation deal part 2. A big person in the NCPO kissing the mouths of politicians?

[The men in the photos from left to right: Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Somchai Wongsawat
Refers to concern about the relationship between the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and politicians on a reconciliation plan led by Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan. Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Somchai Wongsawat are politicians from the Pheu Thai Party. This headline uses the saying “to kiss someone’s mouth,” which in Thai means “to restore good relations.” “A big person in the NCPO” refers to Deputy PM Prawit who leads the reconciliation plan.]

Bottom left: Cut and will refresh! Disclose ‘Sai Nichamon’ Hot and sexy hairdresser

[Refers to the story of sexy hairdresser Sai Nichamon who became popular through social media. Many people have to wait in a long line to have her cut their hair.]

Bottom right: “A day” plays a trick. Selling 308 million of stock. Who wins and loses.

[Refers to the deal of ‘A day’ magazines owned by Wongthanong Chaiarongsingha selling its stock to the new owners. This raises concern about the company’s direction to become more commercialized.]

From Lokwannee, January 28-February 3, 2017
Main cover reads: Reconciliation
Words in background: Reconciliation
Word above the transistor radio: Please listen again

[This cover raises concern about the reconciliation plan of the junta and whether it will delay the election plan from this year.
We are not sure about the link between reconciliation and the transistor radio. Recently, the junta distributed thousands of radios in the flooded south of the country. It is possible that the cover implies that this is yet another meaningless plan that will have no impact.]

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The police made a mistake

From Daily News, January 20, 2017
Black box at top: Regular cartoon by Khaud [name of the cartoon column and the cartoonist]
Left, above man in pink shirt: Rubbing his eyes
Man in blue shirt: What’s wrong?
Right: Do I see something that’s a mistake.

[This cartoon accuses the police of framing someone. It shows the famous symbol of the police–a statue showing a police officer carrying a person in need. However, in place of the person there is a goat–indicating the police often place blame on a scapegoat so they can claim success in solving cases.
More specifically, it refers to the case of Jomsap Saenmuagkote. Jomsap is thought to have been a scapegoat for an accident charge and has been wrongly jailed for years.]

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Red and yellow–Sign the junta’s MOU!


From Manager, January 17, 2017
Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan: If you agree to breed to become a hybrid cross, then sign this MoU… If not, I will use force.
Caption: This fancier group is… rising.

[Here are two similar cartoons from pro- and anti-Thaksin cartoonists, both commenting on military pressure fro yellow and red political groups to agree to reconcile.
This first one is from the anti-Thaksin Manager. It shows the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on reconciliation supervised by Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan with the aim to return peace and harmony to the country as promised by the ruling junta.
The junta is pressuring both the pro- and anti-Thaksin political groups to sign the agreement, here represented by a whistle-wearing young urbanite and a red buffalo.
However, Deputy PM Prawit rejected the call from politicians for the military to sign this unity pact as well in order to guarantee that the military will not conduct another coup.
The caption jokes that a new “fancy” form of cattle will result from signing the MOU–meaning the yellows and reds are being forced to breed together by the military.]

From Thairath, January 19, 2017
Title: Could you sign this one too?
On the book held by a man at right: MOU on not taking power from the people [meaning the military should have to agree not to conduct another coup]
The men in the chairs prepresent yellow and red shirts. On the books they are signing: MOU on reconciliation
Phi Nooring: Reconciliation must have justice.
A mouse: Release Pai Dao Din

[This cartoon, from a pro-Thaksin cartoonist, comments on the unfairness of the military not having to promise to refrain from further coups.
The cartoon also calls the junta to release student political activist Pai Dao Din who has been jailed for lese majeste.]

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This train doesn’t end with reconciliation

From Naewna, January 20, 2017
Caption: [You will be in your] Next life, before reaching the destination [of reconciliation]
On train: MOU. Harmonize before election. [refers to the junta’s MOU that they are pressing all parties to sign and their desire to have all political sides reconcile before new elections are held]
Prawit (standing behind PM Prayuth) speaking to fugitive Thaksin and his sister Yingluck: Hurry up! This is the last train.
Bars under the train: Guilt in criminal cases. Not talking about amnesty bills. Section 112.

[This ridicules the government’s reconciliation MOU, noting that since there are no provisions to give amnesty to Thaksin nor pardon those accused of criticizing the monarchy, the “train” to reconciliation will not move at all.]

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Riches from hardship

From Naewna, January 9, 2017
Watana Muangsook: I’m not exaggerating… Thaksin will be richer and have ten billion mores from the business by set up as this company to test for cancer…
Caption: Money-seeking millionaire. Bragging of his riches from the people’s hardship.

[Refers to former Puea Thai party member Watana Muangsook who posted his a photo of himself taken with Thaksin. He praised Thaksin for jointly investing in UK’s Owlstone Medical to develop a breathalyzer-style tool to test for cancer.
The cartoon criticizes Thaksin and contends that his family’s wealth comes from corruption and making people suffering.]

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Weekly News Magazines, January 13-27, 2017

From Matichon Weekly, January 13-19, 2017
Main cover reads: Yuth who is coming with the flood

[Refers to TV news anchor Sorayuth Suthassanachinda who made his comeback using Facebook Live to report on the flooding. He was forced to resign his role as news anchor on Channel 3 over a scandal involving the misreporting of advertising revenue. His extremely popular Facebook reports comeback on social media has challenged the primacy of mainstream media in reporting the news and shocked the industry that thought he was finished.]

At top: Prayuth acknowledged the King’s order to revise the ‘draft constitution’ on royal power

[Refers to the request from King Rama X to the junta to revise the draft constitution on some points of royal power. This caused concern that the revisions might delay elections. PM Prayuth has since confirmed elections will be conducted according to the junta’s road map.]

From Manager Weekly, January 14-20, 2017
Main cover reads: Reconciliation deal [black] Thaksin-Newin
Above the middle circle: A chain holding those two together.
Men from left-right: Thaksin Shinawatra, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Newin Chidchob

[Refers to the rumor that King Power owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has become a middleman trying to rebuild the relationship between Thaksin and former politician from Buriram province, Newin. Newin is also know to have good relationships with several important cliques in the military so he would be an important Thaksin ally in a future government.
In 2008, Newin switched his support to a Democrat-coalition after Thaksin’s People Power Party was dissolved in 2008. This single act pushed back the necessity for elections and caused Thaksin to conduct the Red Shirt occupations of Bangkok in both 2009 and 2010 to force the government to fall or otherwise hold elections.
In the past, political blocks like Newin’s often switched allegiances, but Thaksin had been very successful at forcing loyalty to his leadership. For his treachery to Thaksin, Newin was constantly menaced by violent Red Shirt mobs who prevented Newin and his party members from campaigning in their own districts.
At the time, the central government was under siege from Red Shirts openly calling for the kidnap and deaths of Democrat Party members (and the Democrats were hardly close allies with the venal Newin anyway). Thus, Newin had no one to protect his political activities and was forced to publicly declare he was retiring from politics to escape constant harassment.
The present fear is that a rapprochement between Newin and Thaksin would mean Newin would return to politics (perhaps with the backing of his own personal Red Shirts made up of supporters of his football team) and help Thaksin in his goal to return to politics.]

Top: Sexy every angle ‘Jessie Vard’ – Real life is unlike the novels
[About internet idol Jessie Vard’s life who has been criticized after posting sexy photos.]

Bottom left: ‘Sorayuth Live’ Take the advantage during the flooding to come back. It’s just like that, the audience.

[Refers to TV news anchor Sorayuth Suthassanachinda who made his comeback using Facebook Live to report on the flooding. He was forced to resign his role as news anchor on Channel 3 over a scandal involving the misreporting of advertising revenue. His extremely popular Facebook reports comeback on social media has challenged the primacy of mainstream media in reporting the news and shocked the industry that thought he was finished.]

Right: ‘Messi Jay’ Thailand’s hope to break the wall to explore the ‘J-League’
[Refers to Thailand’s national football player Chanathip Songkrasin moving to play in the J-League after agreeing to a deal with Japan’s football team Consadole Sapporo.]

From Lokwannee, January 21-27, 2017
Main cover reads: To grab a goat to match a sheep [small] Justice process or liar gang?

[This cover mimics the Thai proverb “to grab a goat to match a sheep” meaning “haste makes waste” in English. The “liar” refers to the story of “the Shepherd’s boy and the wolf.”
This refers to the case of Mrs. Jomsap Saenmuagkote who has claimed to be a scapegoat in an accident case after being jailed for years. She has called for justice while the police denied they made a mistake and insist she is a liar.]

From Nation Weekend, January 13, 2017
Main cover reads: This year, there will be no election.

[Refers to the concern about the delay in elections due to further changes in the charter and ceremonies surrounding the funeral of King Rama IX.]

Posted in Thai Newspapers and Magazines | 1 Comment

Everyone wants to use Section 44!

From Thairath, January 11, 2017
PM Prayuth as he runs: Leave my section 44 alone..
[The bridge symbolizes “Thailand 4.0,” the junta’s slogan for the Thailand of the future.]
People on the bridge from left to right:
Solve the traffic and mini-bus problem;
Social organization to reduce the criminal problem;
Reconciled amnesty bill;
Economic problem;
Make a living problem
Mouse: Having the power to grant wishes.
Mouse man: Fond of power.

[This points out a reality of the military’s absolute power. This reality is that, despite criticism of the military wielding it, everyone is demanding the military use its dictatorial power to fix the ills of society.

This impulse has become even more frantic with elections drawing closer. Once elected politicians return to power, the reign of law and order that has prevailed since the coup will end. Thus, there are more pleas that ever for the military to summarily address long-standing issues.

The military has forced illegal vendors off the streets, tackled illegal beach occupation through the country, closed down casinos, approved long-delayed infrastructure projects, and summarily dealt with law breaking that the police always refused to address.

In every case where the media reports “a joint police-military operation,” it indicates the military is forcing the police to take action–often sequestering police before the raid or using non-local police to participate in the raid. This is because the local police have an interest in tipping off the wrongdoers since they collect tribute in exchange for allowing the activity.

The use of Section 44 to solve problems has slowly grown. Initially the military was reticent to use it, but there has been a constant drumbeat from all sides insisting that the junta should use its boon to help society.

Despite Prayuth running away from the requests in the cartoon, the cartoonist is also likely emphasizing the anti-junta contention that the military loves its absolute power and will not easily give it up.]

More on Section 44:
2015: Prayuth: “I cannot use Section 44 to solve every problem” after pressed to solve EU concerns on fishing
2015: Pressuring the PM to use his absolute power: Everyone loves Section 44
2015: Section 44 to solve the drought?
2015: The Withering of Section 44
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 Section 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 Section 44 to strip Thaksin of his rank

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More New Year’s Cartoons 2017

From Thansettakij, January 2-4, 2017
Title: Happy New Year
Men from the left: Constitution Drafting Committee president Meechai Ruchupan, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, Head of economic team Somkid Jatusripitak
On the right corner: Khunpol [name of the cartoonist]

[Refers to challenges the junta will face in the year 2017 such as the implementation of the new constitution drafted by Constitution Drafting Committee president Meechai Ruchupan and the improvement of the economy.]

From Matichon, January 1, 2017
On the yellow circle: Happy New Year ๒๕๖๐ [2017]
On the kilometer marker: Road map of Thailand
On the pink balloon: Year of the rooster

[The cartoon reminds readers that the year of rooster will be the year of having elections as the junta has already committed to this in their road map to democracy.]

From Khaosod, January 1, 2017
Title: Happy New Year 2560 [2017]
On a sign held by a man with glasses: Student
On the head of the man in a blue suite: Computer Act

[This shows PM Prayuth, trying to ride the new year of the rooster, being best by adversaries such as student protesters, former PMs Thaksin and Yinglcuk, fugitive abbot Dhammachayo and others that seek to attack the junta.]

From Daily News, January 1, 2017
Title: Hello the year of rooster

First row left: Wishing the year of the rooster will have a decrease in accidents during [the first] seven days
Rooster: Don’t drive while you’re drunk. Then, you’ll get home safely.
[Every year, there is a large number of accidents during the seven days of New Year festival.]

Right: Wishing the year of the rooster will see the concrete pilling of the bullet train
[Refers to the bullet train project which aiming to start this year after many years of discussion.]

Second row left: Wishing the year of the rooster brings a good price for agricultural products
On the bag: rice
On the tree in the middle: Rubble
Trees on the right: Sugar crane, etc.
[Refers to the decline of the price of agricultural products, particularly rice. These low prices have been used by politicians to cater to various areas of the country by offering price supports.]

Right: Wishing the year of the rooster brings an increase in GDP and that few people will lose jobs
On the board: Thai economy

Third row: left: Wishing that in the year of the rooster Thai people love each other
[Refers to the abiding Thai ideal of unity in the country. The political conflict of the last decade is seen, in the Thai mind, as a shameful transgression of normal polite interaction between people.]

Right: Wishing the year of the rooster brings a [higher] standard of law enforcement
[Likely refers to criticism of the junta for not enforcing the law equally for all parties.]

Fourth row: Wishing the year of the rooster brings an election.
[Refers to the junta’ road map to have an election this year. However, many groups believe that the junta may try to extent their power by further postponing the election.]

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Don’t build a bridge to Thaksin

ืก

From Naewna, January 13, 2017
Caption: The robber is still unrepentant. Why build the bridge to have this robber come back home..?
Left sign: The reconciliation bridge. Under construction.
Thaksin at right: Wake me once it already finished.

[The bridge symbolizes “Thailand 4.0,” the junta’s slogan for the Thailand of the future. In the Thai world, societal peace and harmony is the one of the highest virtue. Thus, “reconciliation” is often offered as a remedy to society’s ills. This sort of reconciliation means all are forgiven and no further questions asked. It is this sort of solution that pro-Thaksin forces have long pushed for.
The cartoonist cautions the junta not to reconcile with Thaksin and allow him top return to Thailand without any consequences.]

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Thailand becoming divided by politics and religion

From Thairath, January 3, 2017
Title: The Year of Thai Rooster 2017.
Between the roosters: Becoming divided by politics and religion.
Mouse man: Hitting until both dead.
Mouse: Thai people are victims.

[This comments on how there are now great schisms in both politics (Thaksin vs the establishment) and religion (the existing Buddhist hierarchy vs the Dhammakaya sect). These battles are represented by a traditional cock fight where two roosters do battle.]

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New Year’s Cartoons 2017

From Daily News, December 31, 2016
Monkey: Next time, hopefully it will be a bullet train.
Caption: Good bye, a year of monkey.
On a train: 2559 [2016]
Black box on the top: Regular cartoon by Khaod [The name of the column.]

[Refers to the government’s plan for a bullet train. This train plan was frequently discussed during 2016–or the year of money in the Chinese zodiac. So, this cartoon implies that it is hoped that this project will become reality in 2017.]

From Khaosod, December 31, 2016
Left: Goodbye year ๒๕๕๙ [2016]
Right: Welcome year ๒๕๖๐ [2017]

[Refers to the year of 2016 which is considered as a year of the great loss for Thai people as King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on October 13, 2016. The image is of a famous photo showing a young boy spontaneously bowing before the King.]

From Matichon, December 31, 2016
On the limb: 2559 [2016]
On the tree: 2560 [2017]
On the monkey: Year of monkey

From Arun in Matichon, December 31, 2016
Monkey in the middle: The year of monkey must say goodbye. Good luck, everyone.
Monkey on the left: Hey… why did he put his hands up?
Monkey on the right: You’ll be arrested.

[Refers to the three wise monkeys folktale. It jokes that the monekys, living under the junta, would face arrest if they spoke freely.]

From Post Today, December 31, 2016
From left-right: National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, Head of Economic team Somkid Jatusripitak, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong, Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.
On the tank: The man with a pen is Constitution Drafting Committee president Meechai Ruchupan. We do not know who the next man is.

[This is a more traditional Thai New Year’s editorial cartoon showing the movers and shakers of the year frolicking as the bid farewell to the old year.]

From Siamrath, December 31, 2016
Title: Goodbye 59 [2016]

[The Santa Claus in the cartoon is PM Prayuth who is mocked for freely spending to prop up the economy. At the bottom right seems to be the international symbol for anonymous hackers who relentlessly attacked government websites recently over Thailand’s single gateway plan.]

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The temple as hostage

From Thairath, December 21, 2016
Title: Holding temple’s wall and gates as hostage [meaning the police have closed off the wat entrances in an attempt to apprehend the temple’s abbot]
On the official notice sign: Stolen property under the crime no. 2283/2559. Don’t use, don’t move or doing anything which may cause a loss, damage. If someone violates, he can be charged. Klong Luang police station [This is a police notice to alert people that the temple is under technical seize of the police due to the siege to arrest the temple’s Abbott.]
On the wall: Hundreds of cases; Spreading rumors about Dhammakaya [the cartoonist means that the authorities have wrongly filed many legal cases and spread rumors about the sect]
Phi Nooring: Good people will not do something like this.
A mouse: Monks and novices are in trouble.

[This is an rare cartoon from the Thai-language media that openly supports the Dhammakaya sect in its standoff with the authorities. Most of the media have long ridiculed the eccentric beliefs and behavior of the sect and mocked the police for being unable to arrest its fugitive abbot. He is barricaded in the main Dhammakaya compound with his followers acting as human shields to prevent his arrest.

As Thailand’s economy took off in the 1980s and 1990s, newly affluent Thais were pulled between the traditional (and cultural) Buddhist definition of peace (the rejection of the world and self) and the newly gained financial ability to participate in the decadence of the world. Thus, Dhammakaya sect’s philosophy of buying merit and creating a nirvana-like state inside one’s own self while still being able to partake in luxuries of the world has a special lure for Thailand’s rich and powerful.

The Dhammakaya movement has long been allied with Thaksin and his attempts to undermine Thailand’s existing conservative Buddhist hierarchy. Since Thaksin was deposed it was feared (and billboards put up at strategic times seem to confirm this) that Dhammakaya monks would be recruited to protect the marching Red Shirts in Bangkok.

After the 2014 coup, the junta moved aggressively against the sect. It purged the mainstream Buddhist power structure of Dhammakaya allies and shifted the appointment of the Supreme Patriarch to the King to prevent a Dhammakaya-friendly monk from assuming the post.

Unfortunately for Dhammakaya, Thaksin and the Red Shirts have been entirely focused on making sure elections take place as soon as possible, so, aside from a few expressions of support in Red Shirt circles, there has been no move to mobilize mass action to support the sect. Any activity would provide a pretext for the military to delay future polls.]

Posted in Analysis, Dhammakaya Movement, Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | 1 Comment

Chuwit is BACK!

Above: Image from Chuwit Kamonwisit Facebook page with “I’m Back” in Thai and English.

[Chuwit was pardoned after serving time for being involved in the sudden destruction of a bar area on a piece of land he controlled on Sukhumvit Road. Chuwit’s subsequent publicly seeking antics were parlayed into a successful new career as a politician.
More on Chuwit]

Posted in Chuwit Kamolvisit | 1 Comment