From Manager, September 15, 2020
On the trashcan: Report of the case of Boss by Vicha Mahakun
On the table: Prime Minister
Caption: Must it end up here?
[Refers to the controversial hit-and run case of Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya. After an outcry from the public, PM Prayuth appointed a special committee led by Vicha Mahakun to investigate the dropping of the charges against Boss.
The investigation found injustice and corruption in this case. However, many people are afraid that there will be no further action to deal with “Boss” and the death of the police officer he allegedly caused. It is feared the committee was only established to reduce the public’s criticism.
As the fragile coalition government is under intense economic pressure as well as experiencing protests by monarchy reforms activists, they have to tread carefully and cannot afford to anger the nation’s tycoons. These tycoons are too big to serve time in prison anyway, but also create a fantastic issue to rile the public over the military government’s unfulfilled promises to reform the nation’s police and justice systems.]
From Manager, September 15, 2020
From Thairath, September 18, 2020
Title: Agitate yourself and go crazy.
Kaewsan: Those kids are agitated. Violent… I’m very afraid.
On hands from from top to bottom: Stop intimidating people. Draft a new constitution. Dissolve parliament and have a new election. [These are the original three demands from the demonstrators before other protest groups moved the focus to the monarchy.]
Phi Nooring: Those kids comes to show their three fingers and you are afraid of it.
Mouse: Narrow-minded adult
[Refers to former vice dean of Thammasat university Kaewsan Atibodhi calling on the university not to allow the student protests organized by the United Front of Thammasat and Democracy to use the university for their protest on September 19, 2020.
Kaewsan is part of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, a group that has agitated against the influence of Thaksin and his family in Thai politics and was instrumental in staging large protests that helped topple the government in 2014.
The cartoon downplays the actual reason for the university’s desire to now want the protest on university grounds. The university was opposed to the protest because the protester’s original 3-point political demands had been overshadowed by those calling for a reform of the monarchy.
This cartoon is sarcastic with Kaewsan’s reaction towards the student protest as Thammasat has long been the center of anti-dictatorship and anti-government protests.]
From Manager, September 23, 2020
Left, at the top of the photo: Military group who initially changed the political regime
Left caption: Khana Ratsadon
Right: Khana Rieyrad
[Refers to the September 19, 2020 protest organized by the United Front of Thammasat and Democracy. It was dominated by unprecedented talk challenging the prerogatives of the monarchy.
This cartoon ridicules the group for trying to mimic the actions and style of the military when it overthrew the absolute monarchy in 1932.
In particular, at the end of their protest, they installed a memorial plaque commemorating their own symbolic coup at the rally site. It was already removed by the next morning. Pro-government figures thought this to be ironic as the students claimed they were a new generation who would change the future of the country. However, they harked back to the coups of the past conducted by military men who ushered in decades of dictatorship.
Opponents jokingly labeled them “Khana Rieyrad” as they are not like Khana Ratsadon–the clique of ambitious military men who conducted the 1932 coup. “Khana Rieyrad” means something like “messy group” perhaps not only alluding to their old-fashioned tactics, but also their sometimes slovenly appearance in contrast to the military men of the past that their tactics were meant to emulate.]
From Thairath, September 9, 2020
Title: Fight with many groups
On paper held by navy man: Sue. Pending purchase. Really a G-to-G [purchase]
On a man’s suit at left: Finance [Ministry]
On train coming out of the man’s stomach: Extend concession for 40 years
On a man in center: Yuthapong
Phi Nooring: The real corruption buster
Mouse: Pull out an intestine.
[Refers to Pheu Thai MP Yuthapong Charasathien who disclosed controversial issues about the navy’s submarine procurement from China and the extension of Green Line of the Skytrain by the Ministry of Finance. In both cases it is alleged the deals are not exactly as stated to the public as the military is apparently desperate to find any way to complete the deals while it is in power.
This cartoon refers to Thai proverb “pulling out an intestine” meaning disclosing all the hidden information.]
Not stop Thai economy
Build the nation
[This is the government campaign calling on Thais to help fight COVID-19 without stopping economic activity that can impact the economy.]
From Manager, September 8, 2020
On the board: Seeking the truth of Boss’ case.
Left: Finally… there is one big guy… who makes the justice system worsen.
Right: …He is this man… who has been in power for 6 years, but does not reform the police and the justice system.
Caption: Khun Vicha… forgets one person [meaning he forgot to put one person on his chart–PM Prayuth]
[Refers to the hit-and-run murder case involving Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya. As this involves a wealthy tycoon, it seems the suspect has been able to dodge any consequences in the case, even getting the military-dominated government to completely drop the charges.
After a public outcry, Vichan Mahakun was appointed by the PM to investigate the controversy of the dropping of the charges.
The cartoonist shows the Vichan employing the typical tact of using charts to show criminal conspiracies between various figures. PM Prayuth is then blamed for not reforming the police and justice system as was once promised.
After the 2014 coup, the military promised bold reforms that would have never been implemented by the major political parties. For example from 2014: The era of the independent (and politicized) Thai police is over, Dissolution of the Royal Thai Police and Junta reverses course: No reform of the Royal Thai Police
However, as time passed, there seemed to be a switch in the military perception. It became clear they were becoming confident that a system could be devised where they could maintain power after elections. The formerly bold reforms were abandoned as the focus shifted to maintaining good relations and acquiescence from bodies that were earlier pegged for reform–such as the Thai police.]
Sanam Luang has long been the site of nearly every major protest. Thus, those with longer memories might have been perplexed by the claims of local authorities that Sanam Luang was off limits to protesters as it was a “royal ground.”
Attempts to fence off the park or diminish its role in protest in the past have been hotly contested. The 1991-era junta had a plan to fence it off and, during Thaksin’s time as PM, a plan to relocate the Thammasat campus was criticized as an attempt to remove students from the area and thus limit protest in the adjacent park.
More from 2011: Fencing Off Sanam Luang
From Naewna, September 16, 2020
On the cloud: Tropical storm ‘Noul’ is expected to hit Thailand during 18-20 September
On the sign: 19 September Occupied!! Sanam Luang [meaning students have vowed to occupy Sanam Luang for their protest]
Caption: Be careful… the punishment from nature!!!
[Refers to the youth protest on September 19 at Sanam Luang. At the same, weather reports are warning people of the tropical storm Noul.
The cartoonist portrays the students as buffaloes, an insult to imply they are stupid followers. The pig is meant to represent monarchy reform leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak.
The “joke” here is that the tropical storm is a punishment for the students daring to confront the monarchy over issues of reform and by protesting on the royal grounds of Sanam Luang (although many key protests have been conducted there over the years and only in recent times has it been fenced off).]
From Manager, September 16, 2020
Left: Today the global number of Covid cases… increases more than a hundred thousand…
Caption: The world problem
Right: Today the number of democratically-addicted people increases by more than a hundred thousand…
Caption: …in Thailand
[Refers to the surge in public support for democratic reforms in Thailand. This cartoon ridicules this, contending that the issue is not important at this time when the world is struggling with the pandemic.
For the opposition to the government, it is likely seen as the perfect time for protest, at the depths of economic distress, when the military-dominated government might be more receptive to pressure.]
From Naewna, From September 14, 2020
Penguin: I will turn the world over and overthrow the country.
Capton: Big Guin is really bigger than the country.
[Refers to the leader of student protests Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak who is accused of being hugely overconfident in leading his group to reform the monarchy.]
From Manager September 14, 2020
Left: What do you feed him? Why, it grows up bigger than the country.
[Refers the leader of student protests, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak.
Parit and his reform group met at the U.S. embassy in the past and were photographed with the U.S. ambassador being served cheesecake.
Some in the media have claimed that these meetings prove that Penguin’s monarchy reform group is supported by the U.S. government and that the U.S. government wishes to replace Thailand’s present system of government with a republic.
The U.S. embassy has denied they are specifically supporting Parit and contend they just periodically meet with various groups from Thai society.
Photos of Parit at the embassy meetings have been mocked in the Thai media for the cheesecake aspect, poking fun at Parit’s girth. This is compared in the cartoon to his alleged overconfidence in taking on a subject like reforming the monarchy.]
From Arun, September, 2020
This shows students on the constitution plinth erasing parts they want to get rid of–such as the part of the charter that allows appointed senators to cast their vote in the election of the prime minister.
The cartoon refers to the famous “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” photo to express the dedication and struggle of the students.
From Thairath, August 19, 2020
Title: Kids are the result of the 12 Thai values [meaning that the 12 values that the government promoted, but did not follow itself, are being followed by children who are pointing out the rot in the government]
Prayuth on TV: We will follow our promise… give us time and it won’t take too long.
Nataphol: Preed [the sound of a whistle blowing]… Be careful. Don’t be divisive.
On his shirt: Education Minister
On teacher’s skirt: Threaten the students
Mouse: Don’t want a dictator
[This shows the government and schools threatening young people due to their different political perspectives. Education Minister Nataphol talked with the students to hear their voices on the current conflict, but he is known as pro-military and supported the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDR) to overthrow Yingluck’s government during the last coup.
The junta has promoted 12 core Thai values for a stronger nation. This cartoonist is sarcastic about government sincerity. For example, according to the cartoon, PM Prayuth did not keep his promises after taking power, asking people to be patient and the junta would clear up all problems before returning power to the people. However, he still remains in power and his rule has been beset by many obvious instances of corruption.]
From Manager, August 8, 2020
Sudarat, pointing to PM Prayuth: Hey!… Wrong target!! Auntie supports you guys to overthrow him!!
Caption: Being close friends with the kids for building a house.
[The cartoon shows the student groups, which initially focused on a three-point plan which included demands for the PM to step down and a new charter to be written, being influenced by another group, which has a 10-point plan that includes a reform of the monarchy and open discussion about its place in society.
Even former Red Shirt leaders chided the students to stay on track with the original 3-point plan. A charter rewrite was all the opposition has fought for for almost 15 years and it seemed the opposition was finally gaining momentum.
The fear was that a shift to wide-ranging reforms of the monarchy might be a deliberate attempt to ruin the momentum for a charter rewrite. The cartoonist shows the protesters veering away from the prime minister and heading to sky to take on the monarchy, much to the chagrin of mainstream opposition politicians who simply want to set the stage for their return to control of government.
The caption uses the Thai proverb “to be close friends with the kids for building a house” meaning being close with young, impressionable people to do your bidding. The cartoon uses this proverb to joke that the Pheu Thai party, here represented by Sudarat, was happy to support the student protests in its “three points” form to go after Prayuth, but has no desire for a more controversial “ten points” focus on the monarchy which might muddy their simple goal of gaining control of the government again.
Of course the Pheu Thai and Thaksin would insist they have nothing to do with the original three-point charter rewrite protests. If that is true, they would have to be amazed and thankful that the issue they have unsuccessfully championed for almost 15 years has spontaneously been taken up by student groups, and even more amazing, that the government has claimed they would work on revising the charter (although their “support” of a charter rewrite is lukewarm at best).
The wild card here is the disbanded Future Forward Party which has been looking for payback since the party was disbanded earlier this year. They have always taken a more confrontational stance in their politicking and some members have been openly extolling the French Revolution. It is much more likely that the split in the student protests between the three-pointers and the ten-pointers reflects the various political revenge aspirations within the former Future Forward Party.
Others in the Thai media think the pivot to demand reform of the monarchy has disadvantaged Thanatorn, since the more liberal of the Thai youth do not have to follow him as talk of reform is now out in the open. Under this thinking, Thanatorn is just as distressed as the Pheu Thai by the focus on the monarchy, as he simply wishes to be part of a government, not to confront the whole system directly and perhaps provoke an uncertain outcome.]
From Thairath, August 17, 2020
Title: August 16th, Thai freedom day
The students are saying: Stop threatening. People.
Mouse man: Thailand’s peaceful killer.
Mouse: Dictatorial heart.
[This cartoon contends that the government is intimidating peaceful expression of opinion by student protests concerning the government and the monarchy.]
From Manager, From August 5, 2020
Pannika as “Liberty Leading the People”: Hey!… The French Revolution is not Harry Potter.
Caption: [left] Fantasy of the Mung Ming mob… [right] …of the persons who call for a mob
[This cartoon jokes about how the current youth protests conduct themselves differently from the anti-government groups led by three leaders from the former Future Forward Party.
“Liberty Leading the People” is Pannika, at left is Thanathorn and on the right is Piyabutr.
Piyabutr has referenced the French Revolution in articles in past months, including three days a row in July to commemorate the events. Other opposition media outlets covered online classes teaching about the French Revolution and its importance.
As the revolution overthrew and beheaded the then monarch in France, the timing of all this revolution talk would seem similar to the Red Shirt years of protests when revolutionary events and assassinations were brought up–all the while with assurances that it had nothing to do with local events. However, they clearly raise the political temperature.
In contrast, the student protests in recent months have used more “cute” rather than threatening symbolism, such as a Japanese cartoon character and Harry Potter.
“Mung Ming mob” (or “cute mob”) refers to the condescending characterization of the student protests by former deputy army spokeswoman who called them a “cute mob.” This caused the protesters to protest at army headquarters.]
From Thairath, August 13, 2020
Title: Bad things must be bombed [or “Bad things must be blown up”]
On the constitution: Constitution B.E.60
Sign held by the student: Don’t revise it, but make the new draft
On men’s backs: Results of dictator [meaning they obtained their power from dictators]; Senators appointed by their own groups
Phi Nooring: The most worst constitution
Mouse: Must make it just
[Refers to calls from the youth protesters to throw out the current constitution written under the military junta’s supervision. This constitution is criticized as a tool for extending the power of the junta which now controls the government. Probably most egregious, the appointed senate has the power to vote for the PM.]
From Manager, August 13, 2020
Man: It must be ended in our generation.
Left ghost: I used to say like that, too. Caption: Black May B.E. 2535 [referring to the military crackdown on protests in 1992]
Ghost in the middle: I said it, too. Caption: 6 Oct B.E. 2519 [referring to the right-wing crackdown on protests in 1976]
Ghost on the right: I said it, too. Caption: 14 Oct B.E. 2516 [referring to the crackdown on protests in 1973]
[This references the current youth protests to call for on government to rewrite the constitution and reform the monarchy. The cartoon uses the youth protesters’ slogan “it must be ended in our generation” to call on more youth to join the protest.
The cartoonist notes that after major political protests of the past, such as in 1973, 1976 and 1992, there were high hopes for real change in one way or another.
However, the Thai system has been surprising resistant to change with all the same political systems and personalities intact after each political rupture.]
From Manager, August 10, 2020
Piyabutr: We are only dare to indirectly speak about it… but he is brave…!!!
Caption: Under the cloak of Harry Potter
[Refers to lawyer Anon Nampha who gave a speech on reforming the monarchy at a youth protest which used a Harry Potter theme. This was to take on the Harry Potter idea of naming “he who will not be named” and daring the authorities to take action against them.
This round of protest was the first time anti-government groups directly touched on this issue. The cartoonist contends that the three leaders of the former Future Forward party, including Thanathorn, Piyabutr and Pannika, only wished they could broach this subject.]
From Thairath, August 6, 2020
Title: Cut the worst part first.
On a man’s hand: Vote for PM
On his shirt: Senator appointed by his group
On the chopping block: Revise the constitution
Signs held by the protesters: Free People; Call for the future; Youth; Don’t want the senators appointed by their groups; Overthrow the uncle [“uncle” being PM Prayuth]
Phi Nooring: A disgusting and dangerous organ [meaning the arm of the voting senator]
Mouse: Work for the dictator
[Refers to the current anti-government protests. The cartoon illustrates that under the current constitution, appointed senators vote for PM. As these men are invariably pro-military men, it allows the former junta to extend their power and form the current government. More on this concept from 2016: Thailand’s Half Democracy]
From Manager, August 18, 2020
Left, typical Thai father: I took care of this kid… but when he grows up, he calls another father. [meaning that Thai youth are following figures like Thanatorn with more radical ideas about political reform rather than their own parents]
Right, Thanatorn: I taught this kid… but when he grows up, he calls another father.
On the boy’s shirt: Free youth [name of the student protest group]
Caption: Loss of fatherhood
[Refers to the supposed declining popularity of Thanathorn as an iconic figure of defiance. It is thought at one time he was the person the more reform-minded young people would vote for. He was bold and pugnacious, a young person who glared directly out from his campaign posters with a sour look on his face, insisting there would be change and he could confront the powers of the land.
However, with the sudden shift of the student protests away from the more prosaic (“rewrite the constitution”) to the more controversial (“reform the monarchy”), students no longer needed a proxy figure like Thanatorn to follow, but began to follow and reference directly exiled lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul who speaks on issues of the monarchy.
The concept of Thanatorn as a father comes from a campaign slogan young people used based on a soap opera: Fah loves…]
From Thairath, August 5, 2020
Title: I will lead Thailand to move forward.
Blocks on PM Prayuth’s feet, left: Political problems; Decline in power On right blocks: Economic problems; Massive debts; Don’t have the ability to solve
Sign on the left: Broken hearts from cabinet reshuffle [referencing the bitter feelings from government coalition members who lost out in the reshuffle]
Signs held by youth: Free Youth; Junior high school students; High school students; Stop threatening the people; Revise the constitution; Dissolve the parliament; Overthrow the uncle [referring to the demands of the student protesters]
Sign held by Japanese cartoon character ‘Hamtaro’: Dissolve the parliament [this refers to one of the themed protests of the students]
Phi Nooring: Try to move yourself first
Mouse: Country’s hideous burden
[Refers to the current situation of government led by PM Prayuth known as “Uncle Tu.” While PM Prayuth vows to lead the country to move forward, his government is now facing the several problems including economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict among coalition parties.]
From Manager, July 30, 2020
Police: Previously, it was carelessly covered because we did it quietly… We were not aware anyone would see.
Caption at left: Police’s investigation team
Prosecutors: Right… Because of CNN, we have to cover it again!… uh!
Caption at right: ….Prosecution team
On the grave: Boss’ case
[Refers to the case of Vorayuth ‘Boss’ Yoovidhya, heir of the Red Bull company. After being accused of killing a police officer while driving, Vorayuth vanished and recently all charged were dropped and the case was closed. CNN publicized the case, which led to public scorn being cast on the justice system, driving home the commonly held belief that the rich can opt out of consequences for their actions.]
From Thairath, July 28, 2020
Title: Guess… Who?… Attack until it is ruined.
On the scales at left: Justice system
Number one at top is the Red Bull logo. Number 2 is a police officer. Number 3: Prosecutor
Phi Nooring: Driving and killing people, but drop the charges.
Mouse: Use power for corruption.
[Refers to the Red Bull’s heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya whose charges for hit-and-run were dropped. Then the police dismissed his case. This all appeared to show how the organs of the state conspired for the benefit of the super rich.]
From Manager, July 28, 2020
Thaksin: My sister won’t be in the jail for a second.
Caption on the left: Above the sky…
Chalerm: My son won’t be in court for a second!!
Caption: …There is another sky.
[Refers to Thai proverb “Above the sky, there is another sky” meaning there is a big power behind every apparent power.
The cartoon shows Thaksin and how he protected his proxy Yingluck when she was Prime Minister, pulling her out of the country when it became time for her to receive a sentence during a court case.
In contrast, Red Bull executive Chalerm’s son Vorayuth Yoovidhya is part of such a powerful clique that he, unlike Yingluck, never even has to stand in a courtroom. Then, unlike Yingluck, all the charges were dismissed and the case closed. The cartoonist shows Vorayuth smirking at Yingluck who had to deign to play the game of standing in court.]
From Arun, August 4, 2020
Title: Frog is now boiled (takes too long to realize).
On the flame: Flash mob
[We think this refers to the government and its supporters who do not think that flash mobs (or protests) conducted by youth to call for annulling the current constitution and writing a new one will have any impact. The cartoon shows the proverb of the frog being boiled–contending, if the heat slowly increases, the frog will not realize it. This is to represent the government and military who seem confident they can remain firmly in control. Associated with this is the Thai proverb of the frog inside the coconut shell, meaning a person who does not know the wider world and only believes the reality of their little world in the shell.]
From Manager, July 27, 2020
Left: Animal preservation under the law
Right: Animal preservation above the law
[Refers to the hit-and-run case of Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya. This case has shaken faith in the ability of the country to hold the rich to account for their actions the last charges of fatal reckless driving were dropped and thus the police dismissed his case.
The public has a sense that, if the offender had been an ordinary poor person, they would have already been in jail.
It cartoon shows the Red Bull logo at right, contending that an important and rich family gets special protection.]
From Thairath, July 25, 2020
Title: Will he survive?
PM Prayuth: The government has massive debts. Whoever loves me, please help me.
On the fire: Silly payment for a compensation for the Akara gold mine.
On the pole: Silly payment for a compensation for Hopewell.
Phi Nooring: Will face a lot of difficulties.
Mouse: Like to make silly payments
[Refers to the government, led by PM Prayuth, facing massive fines for past government’s projects and action. In particular, the State Railway of Thailand and the Transport Ministry were ordered by the court to pay 11.88 billion baht in compensation to Hopewell (Thailand) Co for the cancellation of a mega-transport project two decades ago.
The government is also in court fighting the Australian company Kingsgate over the closure of the Akara gold mine.
The cartoonist seems to contend that the government should find a way not to pay the compensation.]
From Naewna, July 24, 2020
Caption: Those young bloods… please follow me.
Lyric from the horn: Insult… violate… hate the country
[The cartoonist refers to allegations that Thanathorn and related politicians are using student protesters to call for the government to resign and to rewrite the constitution.
Alleged anti-monarchy sentiment expressed during the protest is thought to be part of the gambit, to dare the military to crack down and force a political crisis.
This has caused pro-royalist groups to march as well, refusing to rule out violence against those they contend are violating taboos against attacking the monarchy. Both the military and Red Shirts also warned the students to leave the monarchy out of their protests.]
From Manager, July 24, 2020
Left, in thought bubble: 14 Oct
On the placards: Revise the constitution; Dissolve the parliament
Caption: The goal of the protesters
Right, in thought bubble: 6 Oct
Caption: The goal of those supporters
[Refers to the current protests calling on the government to dissolve parliament and revise the constitution.
The cartoonist implies that the younger generation of student protests is being orchestrated by anti-military and anti-royalist groups led by Thanathorn of the disbanded Future Forward party and his clique of like-minded politicians.
The cartoon shows that the younger generation desires to create a rally like the student protests of October 14, 1973 that resulted in the overthrow of the then-ruling military dictatorship.
However, the cartoonist contends that politicians, either intentionally or through their alleged promotion of anti-monarchy rhetoric, are more likely to trigger a brutal crackdown like that which occurred on October 6, 1976.]
From Thairath, July 20, 2020
Title: The symptom of the New Normal.
Left: 2-3 days before at the newspaper office.
On ID card: Media.
On the sign at left: Mass Media Office
Prayuth at Left: I come to listen to the mass media’s opinions for the sake of the country.
Right: 2-3 days today. At Rayong province.
On sign at right: Rayong Province
Prayuth’s right: The mass media spreads news too much that makes people panic.
[This criticizes PM Prayuth’s temper as he first deigns to ask the media for their opinion about handling the pandemic and then criticizing them for reporting negative news.]