Thaksin shifts puppets

The last time a coup
leader became PM
after a return to

Prem Tinsulanonda in Context


Who will come crawling?

Who will come

Analysis: Thailand’s Half Democracy

Analysis: Thailand’s
half democracy

Do all Thai roads
lead to Singapore?

The Missing Marker & Thai Democracy

The missing marker &
Thai democracy

How many died in the Thai drug purges?

How many died in the Thai drug purges?

Black May 1992

Remembering the Red Shirt protests of 2010

Remembering the Red Shirt protests of 2010

Remembering the checks & balances of the 1997 charter

Remembering the checks & balances of the 1997 charter

During Red Shirt rally, Thaksin kids withdraw 10 billion baht

During Red Shirt rally, Thaksin kids withdraw 10 billion baht

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They can’t dissolve the party

From Manager, February 20, 2020
Piyabutr: The Constitutional Court can’t dissolve the Future Forward Party!!! The constitution doesn’t give the power to them!
On the book: Constitution version French revolution B.C. 1789

[Refers to the Future Forward Party’s legal expert Piyabutr who questioned the Constitutional Court’s ability to dissolve his party over allegations of violating the election law by receiving funds an illegitimate source.
The cartoonist insinuates that the Future Forward Party is hostile to the present Thai political system and would not be unhappy with a violent overthrow of the system like the French Revolution.]

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The story of hand signals

From Thairath, February 13, 2020
Left: The story of hand signals.
Middle: People impressed
Right: People astonished [meaning people were amazed or taken aback in a negative way]

[Refers to a mass shooting in Nakhon Ratchasima province during which a gunman shot many people before being killed the police led by police chief Gen. Chakthip. In the middle picture, it shows Gen. Chakthip’s hand signal instructing the police during the situation, the photo of which has become symbolic of the enter incident.
The right picture shows PM Prayuth giving a mini-heart sign to the people during his visit in Nakhon Ratchasima after the event. His signal and facial expression was criticized as inappropriate and frivolous during the sad time. Another version of this idea is in the cartoon below.]

From Manager, February 12, 2020
Left, PM Prayuth: Mini-heart.
Right, Pol. Gen. Chakthip: Big heart.

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“Kam” and death

From Thairath, February 12, 2020
Title: The sadness ‘Kam’ in Korat
Left: Sokkanattakam [tragedy]
Phi Nooring: Express deepest condolences to the loss.
Mouse: Must be hurry to help recovery.
Middle: Visamankattakam [extrajudicial killing]
Right: Attavibatkam [suicide]
Above: 84,000 cells

[Refers to the mass shooting in Thailand’s northeast province of Nakhon Ratchasima known as ‘Korat.’ This cartoon plays with Thai words ending with “kam” to express the incident.
The first “kam” refers to the sadness and tragedy which the gunman caused to innocent people.
The second “kam” refers to the Korat gunman who was eventually killed by authorities to send the siege. It is expected that people that transgress laws or might embarrass the military or police will end up essentially being executed.
The last “kam” refers to PM Prayuth who was criticized by showing the sign of a mini heart when he visited the tragedy area. Although later PM Prayuth said he made this sign to cheer up the people, the public considered it was a frivolous and inappropriate action during a time of incredible sadness.
“84,000 cells” refers a strange and incorrect statement made by the PM that people have 84,000 brain cells. On social media people immediately made fun of him suggesting he should increase his own brain cells to help him to govern the country better.]

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Graveyard of the charters

From Arun, Matichon Weekly 24-30, 2020
On the gravestones: Constitution

[This points out the last century of Thai history where the military repeatedly overthrew constitutional governments.]

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Distracted from overthrowing the government

From Naewna, January 31, 2020
Thanathorn, at far right, as vulture: Prayuth get out!
Thaksin, second from right, as vulture: Big Tu [Prayuth] get out!
On Thailand’s map: Wuhan fighting… fighting [meaning people in Thailand are focused on combating the spread of the coronovirus]
Caption: Nowadays, Thai people don’t about the sound of bird and crow.

[Refers to the Thai idiom “the sound of bird and crow” meaning the “opinions of unimportant persons.” This cartoon implies that Thai people are now focusing on the spread of the coronovirus from China rather than being interested in toppling the government of PM Prayuth as the Future Forward Party and its allies are always working for.]

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Virus politics

From Manager, January 30, 2020
Doctor: Khun Noi is infected with liar virus!
Caption: This is more dangerous than Corona.

[Refers to Pheu Thai Party’s Sudarat who criticized the government for its handling of the spread of coronovirus. She also claimed that Thaksin’s government did a better job of handling the spread of the SARS and MERS outbreaks. Khun is common Thai honorific title meaning Ms, Mrs, Mr. or Madam. “Noi” is Sudarat’s nickname.]

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Police turmoil

From Thairath, January 28, 2020
[This references apparent turmoil in the police department exposed by the sudden transfer of high ranking police officers and a drive-by shooting of the former immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn in Bangkok.
This was thought to reveal the tussling over big procurement contracts by various factions in the department.
The statue in the cartoon is at police headquarters in Bangkok and is a symbol used to promote the image of the police as benevolent protectors.]

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Sick of you!

From Thairath, January 23, 2020
Title: Put all power to attack
People shouting (the huge letters in the circle): Sick of!
Prayuth: Blame people; Beautiful people have no brain; Wearing the mask to prevent an air pollution [these are all PM Prayuth’s supposedly weak responses to difficult conditions in the country]; Protect his own group [from investigation]
On paper: Don’t know how to govern the country.
Phi Nooring: Upgrade the hatred.
Mouse: Being sick of and hating

[Refers to an increase in people’s dissatisfaction with the government led by PM Prayuth in handling current situations and how the government is trying to protect its own allies from oversight.]

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Illuminati Idea

From Neawna, January 22, 2020
Thanathorn: Ha… ha… I told you that undermining the governing system is just an idea. They couldn’t sue me.
Inside his brain: Illuminati idea
Caption: Don’t only think… but you need to carry it out to complete it, Thanathorn.

[Refers to the Future Forward Party led by Thanathorn which was recently acquitted by the Constitutional Court on the change of seeking to overthrow the country’s constitutional monarchy.
This cartoon is from an anti-Thaksin, rabidly nationalistic newspaper that is very skeptical of the Future Forward Party and its supposed motives and backers.
The caption reflects the sarcastic idea that the party was lucky to escape disbandment this time, but they need to carry out their actual goals as they may not get another lucky break in the future.]

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The Right Meaning

From Manager, January 16, 2020
Man: On your shirt, it says if someone likes Prayuth, you will fuck him?….I like Prayuth!!!
Caption: Be careful about Thai people’s English understanding

[Refers to a shirt worn by some anti-Prayuth activists. It was copied from a similar shirt meant to insult Trump supporters.
The cartoonist makes a rape joke, contending that a typical Thai man, with his limited understanding of English, may not understand that the word “fuck” does not mean “copulate” in this context, but instead is meant to indicate derision and disgust.
This cartoon reflects a more establishment view that looks down on the provocative protests and actions of the Future Forward Party.]

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It’s all good

From Thairath, January 7, 2020
Title: Is it mass hysteria?
PM Prayuth: In the next 20 years, you won’t be poor.
On men’s backs at left: Supporters. Businessmen. Government coalition parties.
Men at left: Economy is still good. Economy is still good. Cheer the uncle. [the “uncle” being PM Prayuth]
Signs above the suicides: Poor; Rubber farmers; Bankrupt; Farmers
On the paper at right: Killing the whole family. 4 deaths. Husband savagely hit his wife and kids on the heads before committing suicide by hanging to escape from the debts.

[Refers to the slowdown economic problems. Recently, there has been news about people killing themselves due to economic problem. This cartoon is critical of the government painting a rosy scenario despite the problems.
The cartoonist sarcastically asks PM Prayuth, “Is this hysteria?” He means to ask if the spate of dissatisfaction and suicides is actually hysteria (since things are good as the government claims) or if they are motivated by real issues.
Suicide is a common opposition theme. More on Economic suicides]

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Siamese Fighting Fish Unite

From Manager, January 13, 2020
On the left: Lumpini Park
On the right: State Railway Public Park
Caption: Today, they are still in different bowls.

[Refers to anti- and pro-government groups. A pro-government group organized an event to show their support at the Lumpini Park while an anti-government group held another event at the State Railway Public Park. As protest is thought of as sort of a shame in the Thai world, this cartoon laments that people are protesting instead of uniting even after so many years of political conflict.]

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Thais infected with fake news

From Manager, January 29, 2020
Sign on the booth at left: Quarantine place for people infected with coronavirus
Doctor: They are infected with the fake news viruses that are worse than what you guys have.
Panicked people at from top left to bottom right: Evacuate immediately; Doomsday; Death! death!; A million people infected with coronavirus may have died already!?… They said 20 million.

[This references the current spate of alarmist and fake news circulating on Thai-language social media about the virus outbreak.]

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New Year’s Cartoons: Run, Govt, Run

From Daily News, January 1, 2020
Title: Happy New Year B.E.2563

[Refers to the political situation in the Year of the Rat. Starting from the first month of the year, there will be a running event named “Wing Lai Lung” (Run to oust the Uncle) organized by the anti-government groups.
This is shown in the background with Future Forward Party leader Thanatorn holding the Democracy Monument plinth. Those groups are going to call for the public to support the revision of the constitution which they accuse only being written to benefit the military and the establishment.
In the foreground is the present government.
At far right in the foreground is government MP Parina who is facing allegations that her chicken farm encroached on protected areas.
The cobras refer to the MPs who betrayed their parties or change to other sides–particularly the government. This comes from the Aesop fable titled “the Farmer and the Viper.”
The bananas refer to the quote from a government MPs who referred to other coalition members as monkeys hungering for bananas.
All of this mocks the government and its many apparent hypocrisies.]

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New Year’s Cartoons: All Celebrate

From Matichon, January 1, 2020
On the flag: Happy New Year B.E. 2563
On Anupong’s shirt: Moto 1
On Jurin’s shirt: Democrat party

[Refers to the new year 2020, which is a year of rat in the Chinese zodiac. This cartoon shows many politicians, both the government and opposition, cerebrating the new year and wearing traditional dress.
From the front row, there are (left) Deputy PM Prawit, (middle) PM Prayuth and (right) Deputy PM and Interior Minister Anupong. “Moto 1” on his shirt refers to the Ministry of Interior.
In the middle row, starting from the left, is Deputy PM Somkid, Deputy PM and Minister of Commerce and the Democrat Party’s leader Jurin, Speaker of the House of Representatives Mr. Chuan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Mr. Thammarat and Palang Pracharath MP Mrs. Parina.
In the plane is Future Forward Party’s leader Thanathorn indicating the belief he will flee the country like Thaksin rather than face charges. This year, the Thai political situation is expected to be tough due to many controversial issues, such as dissolving the Future Forward Party and the economic slowdown.]

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We knew before!

From Thairath, January 11, 2020
Name of cartoon series: This home this city
Artist: Jaoh
Foreign Minister Don Pamudwinai: We knew it one day before.

[Refers to Foreign Minister Don Pamudwinai who boasted that the U.S. informed Thailand of the intended drone attack which killed Iranian forces leader Qassem Soleimani.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly denied this and affirmed Thailand has a good relationship with both U.S. and Iran and that saying otherwise could cause damage to Thailand’s relation with Iran.]

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New Year’s Cartoons: You Must Follow the Old Chinese Man

From Thairath, January 1, 2020
Title: Happy New year
Poem: New year with happiness. No sadness. Life is full of energy. Having a huge amount of money always. Wishing Reua Pae in the year of Rat to be able to handle problems and help wipe people’s tears out for staying in peace.
Thongchai Na Nakorn
On the boat: Reua pae

[The cartoon hopes the government, specifically led by PM Prayuth, can solve problems to help people live a better life.
“Reua Pae” refers to the government. It comes from the Thai proverb “Getting down to reua pae, then you have to follow pae.”
“Reua” means a “boat” while “pae” is an old Chinese man. In the past, traveling by boat was very popular in Thailand and many boats would have old Chinese men rowing them. Thus, if you wanted to get somewhere, the old Chinese man has to take you.
This phrase was used by Deputy PM Wissanu to indicate that, if you want to work with the government, you have to follow the leader, Prayuth.]

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New Year’s Cartoons: Poo Left From Last Year

From Matichon, December 31, 2019
On the flag: Goodbye the Year of Pig B.E. 2562
On the pig: Year of Pig B.E. 2562
On the rat: Year of Rat
On pig’s blue poo: Politics, Economy, Environment

[Refers to the change to the new year of Rat based on the Chinese zodiac. The cartoonist shows that in 2020, the country is still facing the old problems from the last year (symbolized by the pig’s poo), such as political instability, economy slowdown and the environment.]

From Thairath, January 3, 2020
Title: Happy New Year B.E. 2563 with a huge amount of pig’s poo.
Pig: Bye Bye
On pig: B.E. 2562 wanted to stay longer. Old power [this is equating the negative things of last year and the pig with the military men who remain in government]
On pig’s poo: Economic problems. Corruption. Political problems. Social problems. Gap. Poverty
On a sign: Best wishes B.E. 2563

[Refers to the ongoing problems from last year, the year of the pig, such as economic, political and social problems which are expected to continue to challenge the government in this year of the rat.]

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New Year’s Cartoons: It Will Continue

From Daily News, December 31, 2019
Title: Farewell to the chaos… bye bye… the old year…B.E. 2562
On PM Prayuth’s bag: Budget for expenditure in the year of B.E. 2563
On the flag: Revise the constitution.
On man’s head: People

[Refers the political challenges which will be expected to occur in the new year. The cartoonist contends that the political chaos from last year will continue with the revision of the constitution, the government’s massive spending to bolster their popularity and intensive political competition among politicians being top issues.
The cartoon at top right refers to the Thai proverb “string the guts” meaning disclosing other person’s bad deeds or secrets.]

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Would the Prime Minister run to oust himself?

From Manager, January 10, 2020
Thanawat: I would like to invite the PM to join Wing Lai Lung!!!
Caption: Their parents may forget to teach them to behave appropriately.

[Refers to the organizer of the running event Wing Lai Lung (“Run oust the uncle”) led by student political activist Thanawat. The run is meant to spark a movement to cause the government to fall by targeting Prayuth (“Uncle”) as the coup leader who ended up as prime minister after elections.
In a smart-alecky way, Thanawat visited Government House to personally invite PM Prayuth to join the event meant to oust his government from power. This was meant to be a humorous and media-grabbing event, highlighting the boldness and confidence of the anti-military movement.
However, as it happened during a mourning period for PM Prayuth’s father who had passed away, critics seized on this to question whether Thanawat was right to make his cheeky invitation.]

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Knives out for Sudarat

From Manager, December 26, 2019
Sudarat: Time is up for Prayuth. [meaning it is time for the government to fall]
Thaksin: Time is up for Noi. [meaning it is time for Sudarat herself to lose her leadership position]
Caption: This word is so true!

[Refers to an internal conflict in the Pheu Thai Party which seeks to oust Sudarat from her leadership role in the party.
Until recently, the major rural factions have been agitating for her removal, but Thaksin seemed to support keeping her on. However, news leaked that Thaksin rejected her request to field a candidate from the Phea Thai Party to compete in the Bangkok Governor election. Instead, a stealth, supposedly non-political candidate is being fielded, who is still clearly loyal to Thaksin’s factions.
In the event of a win, this prevents Sudarat from gaining more influence as the candidate is not under her party’s control. It allows a splitting of influence that ensures actions are taken which are in Thaksin’s best interest–being able to return to politics in some way.]

Also: Run to oust Sudarat

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Chase the government!

From Manager, January 8, 2020
Foreigners: See!… The whole world is worrying about the World War… Thais are running to chase him. [in the Thai “running” is literally something like “playing running” which adds to the feeling that the run is a frivolous event in light of all the problems of the world]
On the sign: Border THAILAND

[Refers to a running event “Wing Lai Lung (Run to oust the uncle)” organized by the anti-military government opposition. The cartoonist ridicules the opposition, contending that instead of focusing on the nation’s issues or the current world situation, such as bush fires in Australia or the US-Iran conflict, the group is only focusing on ousting PM Prayuth’s government.
The underlying meaning to this pro-government cartoon that the opposition’s big, planned protests to oust the government are only to benefit certain politicians (like Thaksin) who seek a return to power by any means necessary.]

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Don’ Let Death In the Car

From Matichon, December 31, 2019
Title: Don’t let them in the car
On ghosts: Drinking. Sleep. Careless

[Refers to a number of accidents occurring during the long holidays as people travel back to their hometown or visit other provinces. This cartoon warns people to be careful not to drink and drive.]

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New Year’s Cartoons: The Only Happiness

From Thairath, December 31, 2019
Title: Goodbye last year
Poem: 365 days passed. The only happiness is the King’s coronation and marriage. It is still beautiful in our memory. On the other hand, there were many problems the whole year, such as marijuana, toxic [things], declining economy, bad society, solving injustice and struggling in parliament.
Thongchai Na Nakorn. Composer.

[Refers to the significant incidents occurring during 2019 in Thailand. The poem highlights the royal coronation and marriage as the happiest things for Thai people last year while others, including political problems and the economic slowdown, caused dissatisfaction in the people.]

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Kissing in parliament

From Manager, December 19, 2019
Water monitors: Hey!… Why didn’t you do it in the private place like we did. That is the parliament.
Caption: It make MPs scary!

[Refers to MPs from the Future Forward Party calling for equality for LGBT people. During the press conference, a same-sex couple kissed each other.
This is part of a series of bold, attention-grabbing pronouncements from the Future Forward Party as it faces many legal challenges.
Here the cartoonist criticizes this action since it took place in parliament and shows even the reviled water monitors criticizing the open show of emotion in parliament.
This sentiment is possibly due to opposition to homosexuality. However, it also is an opportunistic criticism of the opposition for overstepping the bounds of Thai propriety. Thais are typically open to nearly any form of sexuality as long as it is conducted in the proper place and circumstances (according to their viewpoints). Thus a man can be an upstanding family man and have a young girlfriend as long as he does not flaunt it and embarrass his wife. Open emotion such as kissing is never to be conducted in public as is common in many European nations.]

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The proxy crisis

From Thairath, December 25, 2019 Title: Who is a proxy crisis?
Gen. Apirat (standing in the center wearing glasses): They is a proxy crisis.
On his shirt: Rao Cheer Lung. [We support the uncle, meaning PM Prayuth]
Man on the left: We have already grown up so we can think by our own.
On shirts on the people on the left: Wing Lai Lung [Run to oust the uncle; this is a run to be held in Jan 12 to protest the government]
Prayuth: Creative… sulk
On paper held by female journalist: Siang Kong Government
On paper held by male journalist: Angry Pot Calling the Kettle Black
Phi Nooring: Who is really behind this?
Mouse: Afraid of the kid’s running

[Refers to Army chief Gen. Apirat who said that the country is facing a “proxy crisis” where the instigators cannot face the government directly so they have to created agents to do so.
He is of course referring for former PM Thaksin who has conducted a relentless campaign of pressure on governments that oppose his pardon and return since his ouster in 2006.
The proxy for the instigator is the Future Forward Party led by Thanathorn who is now calling on the public to oust the government, much as previous political movements, thought to be directed by Thaksin, attempted to pressure previous governments.
The cartoonist is skeptical of all this a resents the army chief’s pronouncements to the people. PM Prayuth is ridiculed as a thin-skinned military man who is always annoyed with the media.
One example of this was when Prayuth was angered over the traditional giving of mocking names to political figures and parties. PM Prayuth was dubbed by the media as “Angry Pot Calling the Kettle Black” while his government was called the “Siang Kong Government”, a reference to the Chinatown neighborhood where used car parts are sold. The name is associated with a dodgy background and spotty reliability, highlighting the rogues gallery of old school political figures comprising the government.]

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What is appropriate in parliament?

From Thairath, December 23, 2019 Title: Things occurring in the parliament
Left: Inappropriate in the new parliament
On the guy’s tote bag: Rights for same-sex marriage
Right: Appropriate in the old parliament
On people’s suits: Democrat party
On paper in front of a man with glasses: Speaker of the House of Representatives
Woman screaming: Greed!
On the whistle being blown by Chuan: Parliament
Phi Nooring: Recall their own group
Mouse: Savage

[The cartoonist refers to the double standard in the Thai parliament.
The right side shows incidents from parliaments in the past when MPs from the Democrat Party trying to disturb the meeting by physically blocking the seating of the Speaker of House of Representatives amid Thaksin’s amnesty bids.
At left is a recent incident where two men kissed in parliament amid a push for LGBQ rights. Many politicians condemned this display of affection as unacceptable in parliament.
At bottom left is a cobra holding a marijuana leaf. Cobra is a Thai symbol for an MP who betrays his party and either supports the opposition in a vote or changes parties. The marijuana leaf refers to the Bhumjaithai Party which is supporting marijuana legalization. “Cobras” from the Future Forward Party are thought to be jumping parties and joining the Bhumjaithai.]

Another take on this: Kissing in parliament

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Run to oust Prayuth

From Thairath, December 17, 2019
Title: Put on your shoes
On TV: #Aren’t afraid #Aren’t patient anymore… Don’t give up [hashtags meant to demonstrate people wish to topple the Prayuth-led coalition government]
On paper held by PM Prayuth: Using power as they wish [meaning the government is using its power to benefit itself]
On Thanathorn’s arm at right: Democracy
On Thanathorn’s sleeve: Wing Lai Lung [the name of the running event: “Run to oust the uncle,” “uncle” referring to PM Prayuth]
Phee Nooring: Come out and join.
Mouse: Let’s oust him.

[Refers to the running event “Wing Lai Lung (Run to oust the Uncle).” The event is scheduled for January 12, 2020 and will be seen as a public sign of the level of general support there is to force the current government from power.]

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Run to oust Sudarat

From Manager, December 5, 2019 Large words: Go to Dubai; Wing.Lai.Pa. [Run to oust Aunty]
Caption: This event comes first.

[Refers to Phea Thai party’s election strategy chief Sudarat who went to Dubai to meet with former PM Thaksin about her pick for the party’s candidate for the Bangkok governor candidate. All of the Phea Thai party factions chiefs recently visited Thaksin around this time amid internal conflicts inside the party and an intense desire to oust Sudarat from the party leadership.
As a Bangkok-based power broker, Sudarat is intensely disliked by the rural kingpins who preside over the bulk of the party loyalists in the provinces. However, it appears as if, for now, Thaksin is sticking with her as party head.
This cartoon makes a joke with the Future Forward Party’s campaign “Wing Lai Loong” (“Run to oust the Uncle”) to be held January 12, 2020 to protest the present government.
The cartoonist jokes that instead of ousting Uncle Tu (which is the nickname of PM Prayuth), the Phea Thai Party is intent on ousting “aunty” (Sudarat) first.]

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He is cutting the tiger’s tail

From Arun, December 5, 2019
Caption: He is cutting the tiger’s tail.
On chopping board: The budget of the Ministry of Defense.

[As Thanathorn and his party are beset by legal challenges, he is hitting back with attack after attack on the Thai army’s longstanding privileges. Here it shows him raising questions about the military’s budget and particularly the “black” portions and what is off the books entirely. Political parties have typically attempted to cultivate good relations with the military as the army has essential veto power over governments by way of coups. Thanathorn may feel he has nothing to lose as he raises issue after issue to needle the government and its military leaders.]

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