For those who have had problems with shipping into Thailand, I have a very limited number of hardback copies of my memoir Last Century available for sale.
878 baht and free shipping to your Thai address. Contact [email protected]
(I also have a few copies of The Thai Book, A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations available for the same price. Both books are also available on Kindle.)

From Amazon: Hiding from the Khmer Rouge, fired on during Thailand’s Black May, snakebit in the jungle, beset by ghosts in the city, entombed with a legendary sword in Burma, living under Siamese skies… These are one young man’s unexpected true adventures from the latter years of the twentieth century in the Asian Tiger era.

In Last Century, Ron Morris recounts his extraordinary experiences in a region still shaking off the legacies of the Cold War and emerging from isolation. It was a frenetic world undergoing an economic boom, but also an isolated outpost for lost souls. There, anything was possible–fortunes, dreams and visions, and the challenge of becoming a man in the ancient and modern landscapes of a new world.

“Every one of us was a bystander, passively hearing of the dangerous exploits, the alcoholism, and the panicked actions of others. To be involved risked getting swept into another’s vortex of insanity. If there was one thing the expat wanted was to go down under his own distinct weight— weight accrued and borne privately. Sympathizing with another risked too much introspection about one’s own march towards oblivion.”

Combining the mundane, the supernatural, the accidental and the dangerous, Last Century is an unforgettable series of tales of coming of age in the days of the Asian Tigers.

“Mr. Morris takes the reader on a journey through Asia’s back alleys and little-known places, giving an added dimension to a familiar region. I, for one, learned much about lands I thought I already knew well. Well worth it.” (Steve Van Beek, author of “Bangkok Then and Now”)

“Many darker sides of Thailand uncovered which help getting a better understanding of the country.” (Daniel Desjardins, Guides de voyage Ulysse)

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Right here, right now

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Can they save Thailand?

From Manager, July 28, 2021
People: Dear two gods… If you come down quickly, COVID will be gone from the country… Thai people won’t be infected… won’t die.
Caption: The belief of some groups of people.

[Refers to anti-government and pro-Thaksin groups who believe that Pfizer is the best vaccine to deal with the current COVID-19 situation as well as Thaksin who has recently emerged on social media vowing to return to the country once again.]

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The government goes after celebs

From Thairath, July 24, 2021
Title: Who is the source of fake news?
Lady (teenager rapper named Milli): Call out. Criticize the government.
Saying on the right: With your tail up… Keep telling a lie everyday. Charge people who speaks the truth… naja.
On his arm: Brainless; no ability
Man with no brain: Slave of dictator
On paper: Sue people. Sue celebrity.
On the dead people: Economic crisis; Die at home; Vaccine crisis; Die on the road; Government’s failure; Covid crisis
Phi Nooring: Speak for most of Thai people.
Mouse: Prayut get out.

[Refers to teenager rapper and singer Milli who recently was charged because she criticized the government via her social media on the government’s failure on handling the covid-19 situation and calling on PM Prayuth to resign. The sight of this young woman being dragged into a police station for a tweet and having to humbly apologize caused widespread criticism.
The government quickly backed away from these high profile prosecutions of celebrities for merely criticizing the government and calling on the PM to step down. It almost seems as if the government has been testing out the limits of their power to stifle dissent online.]

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Every needle has a price

From Thairath, July 22, 2021
Title: Every needle has a price.
On man’s back: Thai people in the COVID-government
On the arms, left: People Right: Get profits from people’s lives
On a coin bag: Change [“Change” here means some corrupt extra money such as a commission or kickback.]
Phi Nooring: Really cruel heart
Mouse: Prayuth gets out.

[Refers to the concerns and claims related to corruption to vaccine procurement. As such corruption is part of every level of Thai society, it is logical to question the vaccine procurement as well.
This cartoon alleges that their may be corruption in arranging the vaccines. It might also reference other vaccines now being imported such as the Moderna which, at 3000 baht for two shots, is well beyond the reach of low-income Thais.]

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No mRNA vaccines for you

From Thairath, July 21, 2021
Title: People protest to call for the mRNA vaccine, but what does the government give?
Protester at right: Giving tear gas, police’s sticks, water cannon vehicles and rubber bullets.
On the mic: Press
Phi nooring: All slaves of dictator
Mouse: Prayuth get out.

[Refers to the anti-government groups protesting almost every week calling on PM Prayut to resign and allow people to get mRNA vaccines rather than the limited vaccines the government allowed.]

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Thaksin to return… again

From Manager, July 15, 2021
Caption: He whom keeps repeating his dream for decades.

[Refers to former PM Thaksin who recently bragged to his supporters that he would soon return to the country from the entrance gate at the airport.
This implies that he would be able to return without having to serve prison time or otherwise answer for the many legal cases that were brought against him.
On one hand the country seems to be finally grasping an issue–the failure of vaccine management–that will cause mass disaffection against the government. This is in contrast to student protests of the last year that ultimately had little mass appeal. Such a circumstance of widespread dissatisfaction against the government surely excites Thaksin as an opportunity to engineer a return to the country and then to power.
On the other hand, Thaksin’s new boast that he would return has been repeated many times in the past. Politics has moved on in the last decade. There was largely ridicule when Jatuporn was sent to form a neo-Red Shirt movement to take over when student protests dwindled away. Thaksin’s continual tactic of pushing for a charter rewrite is probably seen as activity purely to serve his own political desires to return.]

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You get only two vaccines

From Arun July 14, 2021
Title: “The Queen’s Gambit” (Thai people)

[This title mimics with the title of the famous Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” which is translated in Thai as ‘เกมกระดานแห่งชีวิต’ meaning the “chess game of life.” The cartoon condemns the government for risking people’s lives by relying on only two vaccines amid the growing mutations of COVID. Now, people are calling the government for the mRNA vaccines instead.]

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From Manager, July 14, 2021
Man: Dear God… Please come down and let us to use it.
God: No… If I quickly come down, then we will discredit the sucky vaccine.
Caption: Wish to be a God longer

[The public is begging for Pfizer vaccine to prevent themselves from the severe COVID-19 outbreak. If they have more choice, this will cause people to refuse the government-mandated choices like Sinovac, thus exposing the public’s distaste for the “sucky” vaccine.]

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Almost lost to the dog

From Manager, July 12, 2021
Michael Heath: Hey!… my donation… don’t claim for your credit.
On box: Vaccine 1.5 million doses from the American government
Caption: Almost lost to the dog

[Refers to US Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath confirming that the donated Pfizer vaccine was done government to government without intermediary.
As often happens in the Thai world, once news broke of the donation, officials came out to claim they were involved. The US embassy had to make the clarification of the government to government deal after Ruktai Prurapark, an Energy Regulatory Commission subcommittee member, claimed that Thai citizens in the US and himself were the ones who helped set up the donation.
Ruktai is represented by the dog and this refers to Thai proverb “lost to the dog” meaning to be tricked by someone who is trying to take credit for something.]

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Prayuth get out!

From Thairath, July 10, 2021
On papers: Problem with treatment. Problem with vaccine. Problem with work for a living. Problem with compensation. Don’t have ability to deal with the pandemic.
On the padlock: Lockdown
Phi Nooring: Karma turns to the people
Mouse: Prayuth gets out.
Caption: Every man for himself

[Refers to the government led by PM Prayuth. This cartoon illustrates that due to the government’s inability to handle COVID-19, as most people are affected by the government failings. Many people have called on PM Prayuth to step down after the failure of his management to deal with the COVID-19.]

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Good vaccines for the rich

From Naewna, July 8, 2021
Words behind the doctor: Benefit from people’s deaths
Words close to the needle: Do you have money?
Tag on the needle: Optional vaccine
Caption: Optional vaccine which the poor don’t have right to choose

[Refers to the government which recently allowed private hospitals to access mRNA vaccines to those who can pay. The rest of the general public must receive the two government approved vaccines.]

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The next explosion will be…

From Thairath, July 8, 2021
Title: Waiting for the next bomb
On the smoke: Explosion and fire of factory in Samut Prakarn
On the banner: During quarantine
Phi Nooring: Promptly end the fire before explosion.
Mouse: Prayuth get out.
On the bomb: People can’t stand the COVID crisis and vaccine problems

[Refers to the increasing severe COVID-19 situation in Thailand. Due to the failure of government’s management, many people, not only anti-government groups, have started calling on PM Prayuth to resign. In the cartoon shown the incident of the explosion and fire of the chemical factory in Samut Prakarn province, causing a huge damage. PM Prayuth was in self-quarantine at the time of explosion.
The cartoonist notes that the next big explosion will be the public ire that removes Prayuth and his government from office.]

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“Sand castle” and “People’s tears”

From Arun, July 5, 2021
Title: “Sand castle” and “People’s tears”

[This cartoon shows the time when PM Prayuth and his government had seafood at a beach in Phuket while attending the opening of the “Phuket sandbox.”
This caused strong criticism as people have severe sufferings from COVID-19, but the government was enjoying a good time on the beach. The cartoonist shows the tears of the people about to wash away the uncaring government.
“Sand castle” comes from PM Prayuth who mistranslated the word “sandbox” by saying “sand castle” instead. This was widely ridiculed on social media.]

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How dare you criticize Thaksin!

From Manager, June 21, 2021
On the building: PT Pheu Thai
Pheu Thai party member: You insult our monarchy!!!
Caption: They insult everyone.

[Refers to the anti-government youth group “Restart Democracy” (REDEM). They have developed a reputation for violent clashes with authorities and for not respecting the established political order. (More about REDEM: Blood Downtown)

REDEM recently criticized Thaksin for only calling for the revision of the constitution and refusing to call for the reform of the monarchy. This position by Thaksin is return to the protest times of 10 years ago when Thaksin pushed for charter change and/or an amnesty–both of which would be designed to allow him to return to politics in Thailand. In other words, politics as usual.

In recent months, as the government failed in its mass vaccination promises and student protests dwindled, Thaksin has reemerged, no doubt to take leadership of the political opposition again (More about this: Don’t worry, student protesters! Thaksin sends Jatuporn & the Red Shirts to the rescue!).

However, since Thaksin’s heyday, student protest groups have gone far beyond Thaksin-style “reform” with bold calls for real and deep reform in society.

The cartoon shows Thaksin as a royal figure which was one way he was portrayed by his opposition–as one who continually attempted to bring the monarchy into political squabbles or perhaps wanting to supplant the monarchy itself.

Here it is used to show how Thaksin remains an exalted figure for some of his former party members who find themselves in a strange new world where Thaksin no longer has a stranglehold on the political opposition.

We are not sure the names of all the PT members, but from the left they seem to be: Wan Yubamrung, Phumtham Wechayachai, Somchai Wongsawat, Prasert Chantararuangthong]

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No urgency

From Manager, July 6, 2021
Left title: When the doctor is the seller.
Sign above door: Reserve the vaccine.
Right caption: [When the doctor] …when becomes the buyer.
Sign above door: Order the vaccine.

[This shows how common people in Thailand cannot just go and receive a vaccine. They have to sign up through a government app and be allotted and appointment time–which is often later cancelled. (Update, July 29, 2021: the government has opened Bang Sue Station to walk-in vaccinations for people who meet certain qualifications such as being over 70.)
Meanwhile, when doctors and hospitals want to expedite vaccination, their efforts are often hampered by government bureaucracy, such as when a vaccine order was delayed by an insistence that it be fully paid before the government agencies proceed with the order.
The government insists it is not stalling and has shown itself willing to sue anyone who says otherwise, but underlying all this is a strange lack of urgency. This is expressed by an insistence that all regulations be followed to the letter, making procurement move at a glacial pace.]

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Youth Speak

From Manager, June 30, 2021
Left, boy with black hair: Look!… You f… [fuck] say the rude word!!!
Girl with grey hair: What did he say?
Right, mnan: He said… Naja
Girl: Shit… Very rude
Caption: Ruder than the standard.

[Refers to PM Prayuth who ended an interview regarding the COVID-19 situation by using the suffix “naja.”
“Naja” is a suffix word to end a sentences to make the sentence sound softer. It is an informal word used by young people.
The use of this word in a COVID-19 briefing was criticized as lacking seriousness in a very serious time.
Due to this, the word “naja” is used by anti-PM groups like a dirty word to show the lack of concern from the PM towards a serious subject like COVID-19.]

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Carried to the crematorium

From Manager, July 5, 2021
PM Prayuth: We have to take the best care of Phuket. If there is only one tourist infected with Covid who dies our reputation is collapsed.

[To contrast this government focus on the opening of tourism on Phuket, the above part of the cartoon shows dozens of dead daily in Bangkok being carried to the crematorium.]

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Think only how to look good?

From Thairath, July 3, 2021
Title: On the back of Joy [meaning something like “behind the back of the PM who is congratulating himself on the opening of Phuket, is a sad sight”]
PM Prayuth: Welcome, country open.
From left: Was locked down; the business went bankrupt; was chose to act; the problem of quality of vaccines
Above dead man’s head: Die at home
On sheet covering dead man: The public health emergency situation for taking care of COVID.
On paper he holds: Increase of patients; Increase of deaths
Man with glasses on right: People come first.
Mouse man: Think only how to look good?
Mouse: Prayuth, get out! [the anti-government slogan]

[Refers to the many failings of the government in handling the ongoing Covid crisis while it excitedly announces the opening of the country again to tourism.]

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When you make yourself the target

From Manager, July 8, 2021
Left: REA…
Right: …SON [this means something like “at left is the cause, and at right is the result”]

[PM Prayuth is in a strange situation. He has positioned himself as a political strongman who can get things done and “bring happiness back to the people” as the government slogan goes.
However, the government, which has dictatorial power due to the current charter, does not use any of that power to expedite vaccination. It has insisted on a few vaccine choices and all efforts to approve or procure other vaccines have moved at a snails pace. It seems that adhering to the nation’s Byzantine bureaucracy is placed as the highest priority.
If the government used its power to cut through the red tape and expedite things with a sense of urgency, they would be heroes. This is what the public expects from a government with complete power. It is the only thing a government with complete power can efficiently give.
However, the government has seemingly settled on bringing up procedural issues at every turn that slow the availability of vaccines while public anger rises.]

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Failure of vaccine management

From Thairath, June 16, 2021
Title: Become a pair of targets
On man’s shirt left: People
On doctor’s shirt right: Doctors. Hospitals.
Vaccine needles from top-bottom: Failure of vaccine management; Blame the doctors and throw the responsibility away; Take benefits
On hands from top-bottom: CCSA; MOPH; Government
PM Prayuth at bottom: Listen to me; Believe me; I have never lied
Phi Nooring: People get risks.
Mouse: Live with being scared

[The country is now facing an uncertain vaccine allocation. People have had their their vaccination appointments cancelled and the hospitals have received strong complaints from the public. To make things worst, when the problems occur, those who are in charge of vaccine management including the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), and the government, denied their responsibility and blamed others.]

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The nation, hung on a brain

From Arun, June 16, 2021
On the white box: For the current situation, we will survive because of the “brain” of the leader.
On the syringe: Vaccine management
The quote: “My head works everyday, even in the dream, still thinking about work.” Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha

[Refers to the government’s failure to provide timely vaccines–even according to their own schedule. The public and numerous hospitals have criticized the government for the slow and insufficient vaccine allocation. This cartoon is sarcastic to PM Prayuth’s quote which was meant to show how hard he worked and how he was always thinking about the country.]

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Who to blame for lack of vaccines?

From Manager, June 16, 2021
On sign: Vaccination point
Man on the left: What happened… why delay my vaccination?
Caption: Only this issue, but can’t answer

[Refers to the failure of government’s ability to provide timely vaccines. This caused public anger when responsible governmental agencies could not provide an answer about the problem. It became a big news when one of the private hospital announced its cancellation of scheduled vaccines and told people who inquired about the cause to ask the Public Health Minister. From the Public Health Minister, to Public Health officials to the PM, they blamed each other without providing any clear information. Later, PM Prayuth apologized to the public for the chaotic vaccination situation.]

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Not ready!

From Thairath, June 10, 2021
Title: Do you know who is the problem?
Doctor: Doctors are ready!
Nurse: Nurses are ready!
Medical staff: Medical staff is ready!
Man with glasses: People are ready!
Woman: Business people are ready!
Girl: Students are ready!
Woman in the front: Teachers are ready!
Anutin: But the government and vaccines are not ready.
On a paper held by him: Vaccine crisis
Phi Nooring: Dance around the subject for surviving each day. [Meaning he demands the government to quit their rambling speech to avoid criticism. People want to hear the truth.]
Mouse: Good at keeping an image

[This cartoon mocks the name of government’s vaccine registration app “Doctor’s Ready” as everyone is ready for vaccination, only the government is not ready due to the shortage of vaccines.]

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Driving by

From Arun, June 8, 2021
Inside the white box: Want to see a better life, please look to the right, sir.
Inside the box in the cartoon (a quote from PM Prayuth): “I love the people. I ride in the car and look out the window everyday thinking that how I should help people whom I see to have a better life without taking anything from them in return.” This is what the PM who is in the position for 7 years still can’t figure out. [meaning he cannot figure out how to make people’s lives better]
On the building from left to right: Government officers; Senators; MPs from the coalition parties; PPRP.

[Refers to PM Prayuth’s quote during parliament. For a leader to say he sees downtrodden people as he drives by is particularly tone-deaf. The cartoonist jokes that his coalition partners such as government officers, senators, and MPs from his party seem to have better lives than others.]

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Govt gives little choice on vaccines

From Thairath, May 27, 2021
Left, Health Minister Anutin: A good vaccine is the vaccine that can quickly inoculated.
People: No…
Right: It is the vaccine that the government didn’t import. [meaning that people do not like the government-mandated vaccines and the lack of consumer choice]

[Refers to the limited vaccine options provided by the government. The government has been strongly condemned for tightly controlling vaccine procurement, leaving little choice for people. Recently, it has become controversial issue when it was announced that Sinovac was to be used for the elderly instead of Astrazeneca as planned, due to the vaccine storage.]

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The government can’t handle it

From Thairath, June 7, 2021
Title: Compete to live and die each day.
Doctor: Today, COVID vaccination increases by… people [the “…” here and below means a certain number of people that day, like he says “vaccination increases by 218,000 people”]
Paper held by doctor: People who have a vaccine injection
People from back to front: Scared of side effect; Scared to death; Scared of being infected again.
Paper held by the vaccinated man: Already vaccinated.
Medical staff member in the center: Today, the COVID infection increases by… people
Paper held by him: Patients
Medical staff member on the right: Today, the death toll of COVID infected patients increases by… people.
Paper held by him: Dead people
Papers close to dead bodies from left to right: Die at home; Aren’t being vaccinated; Can’t access the treatment; Too late for treatment.
Phi Nooring: Sad news everyday
Mouse: Don’t have an ability to handle

[Refers to the failure of the government to quickly roll out the vaccines to handle with the spread of COVID-19 in the country.]

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The opposition will flee

From Manager, June 9, 2021
Caption: When the light is coming…

[Refers to the roll out of the Astrazeneca vaccine. Amid the rumors, fake news, and stories about the safety of the vaccines spread to discredit the government and the Astrazeneca vaccine produced under the royal-owned drug company Siam Bioscience, finally the government started its vaccination on June 7, 2021.
This cartoonist contends that, as the vaccines roll out, the opposition parties who have been casting doubt on the safety of the vaccine will retreat to coffins like vampires. The cartoon shows various opposition retreating to coffins as the vaccine becomes available and is used.]

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Slipping backwards

From Arun, May 27, 2021
Inside the white box at top: 7 years after the coup, Thailand has rapidly changed, proved by the picture taken by the satellite yesterday.
Title: 7-year performance of “Prayut Chan-ocha’
Under the map: (Picture of Siamese map 200-400 years ago)

[Refers to the disappointing performance of PM Prayuth’s government after seven years in power. The cartoonist notes that under this government, the country has been moved backwards.]

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Red Shirts have another request of the Democrats

From Naewna, May 26, 2021
In B.E. 2552 I hit the car and called for resignation. This year B.E. I still follow this request to breakup the government’s coalition [and cause the government to fall]
On the car and license plate: Democrat
Caption: He put his effort in to ask for it…. why don’t you give it?

[Refers to the Red shirt leader Jatuporn who recently formed the new anti-government movement named “Thai Mai Thon” (Impatient Thais) to overthrow PM Prayuth. This was supposed to replace the waning student protests. Recently, he and his group called on the Democrat Party to leave the coalition government.
The cartoonist recalls the events of 2009 when Jatuporn and the Red Shirts launched a surprise attack on a car that they thought the then-prime minister was in, apparently in an attempt to kill him. Not finding him, the Red Shirts took hostages, later showing them off to the press in handcuffs. Meanwhile Thaksin called on the protests to continue until the government fell. (More: 2009: Red Shirts overrun ASEAN venue, take govt hostages in Bangkok) The cartoon seems to mock Jatuporn as a reasonable new protest leader, based on past events and his connection with Thaksin. Jatuporn’s new initiatives to create a purely political anti-government coalition, forswearing any mention of the monarchy, was mocked across the political spectrum, except for a few exceptions (Don’t worry, student protesters! Thaksin sends Jatuporn & Red Shirts to the rescue!).]

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We’re so scared

From Arun, May 25, 2021
Inside the white box at top: Lockdown the areas to check the Africa and India variants.
Above the gate: Uncle Tu’s house [meaning the house of PM Prayuth]
Sound from the radio: Hong hong [sound of dog barking]
On the red sign: Beware of fierce dogs [mocking the government’s insistence that their choice of two vaccines are all that is necessary; contrasting these cute dog breeds with the sounds of barking coming from a speaker probably means the government is over hyping the effectiveness of their vaccine plans]
Sign at the far left: Water and electric bills are sent to the regiment. [meaning the coup generals, who maintain their political power in the government after elections, continue to reside in military provided housing]
Two men representing the India variant of the virus say: This house is very scary! [meaning the preparations that the coup generals have pout in place will not be effective]

[This seems to mock the government, as specifically PM Prayuth’s confidence that their iron grip on handling the pandemic is best. It points out the connection with China and the firm policy of only relying on two types of vaccines. It references how these coup generals still hold power while residing in military housing after their supposed retirement.]

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