US’s Perception of Thailand’s Political Divide – Prachatai, December 6, 2013
…A former American diplomat revealed that the United States was “freaking out” about the fact that there was a gap in its understanding of the Thai situation. The vacuum of information compelled the US government to interpret its relations with Thailand based on its constricted perception of maintaining the political status quo even as new players in the Thai political landscape were emerging…
Also: In Thailand, Political Unrest Adds to Downward Economic Spiral
Also: This Yuletide, Indians to give Bangkok a miss
From Komchadluek, November 19, 2013
Frogs: Peed!!! [a whistle’s sound]
[The cartoon refers to the Aesop fable "the frogs who desired a king." Here the frogs represent Thai people while the stork represents the government. In the cartoon, the frogs blow the whistle to the stork once they see their leader doing something wrong.]
Thaksin’s homecoming hopes dashed as Thai crisis reignites – Reuters, December 4, 2013
…The chances of another round of political conflict seemed slim a few months ago as the government of Thaksin’s sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, entered its third year in office after a fairly smooth ride, much to do with outwardly cordial ties with her brother’s enemies, among them generals, royal advisers and opposition politicians…
Above: December 4, 2005 - Placard with an image of the HM The King at the Royal Plaza.
Today is HM The King’s birthday. It is a national holiday considered Father’s Day in Thailand when both the King and all fathers are honored.
From years past:
2004: HM The King’s Birthday Address
2005: HM The King’s Birthday 2005
2009: HM The King’s 82th Birthday
2008: King not giving much-anticipated birthday speech and Trooping of the Colors
2012: Newspaper front pages
From Matichon Weekly, December 4-10, 2009 – Hand in hand
Thailand awaits king’s word on political conflict – AP, December 4, 2013
As violence between anti-government protesters and police died down Wednesday in the Thai capital, people of all political persuasions waited to hear if their king would offer advice in his annual birthday speech to help resolve a crisis that has left the nation deeply divided…
Thailand’s anti-trafficking effort loses steam – Reuters, December 4, 2013
The U.S. State Department is gathering information for its next Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report, due to be published in June. It ranks countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking. Thailand faces an automatic downgrade to Tier 3, the lowest rank, unless it makes “significant efforts” to improve its record, the State Department says…
Record Rice Inventories in Thailand Jumping 17% as Exports Climb – Bloomberg, December 4, 2013
Thailand, once the world’s biggest rice exporter, will see a 17 percent jump in stockpiles to a record next year as it pursues a policy of buying from farmers at above market rates, said the Food & Agriculture Organization…
Rangoon Planning Committee Wants Public Access to Riverfront – The Irrawaddy, December 4, 2013
…Committee member Hlaing Maw Oo, director of the Ministry of Construction, said that most of the area along the city’s Hlaing River, also known as the Rangoon River, should be designated as “green space” and called for at least 25 feet (8 meters) of space along the waterfront to be reserved for public recreation.
“We don’t ask very much, just at least 25 feet for the public,” she said.
According to a map distributed at the public forum, a strip of the riverfront at least three-miles long is proposed as a “Green and Blue Zone,” punctuated with smaller areas demarcated for “waterfront special development.” In most of the development zones along the river, buildings up to three stories high will be permitted, as long as the view of the Shwedagon Pagoda from the river is preserved…
From Thairath, November 16, 2013
Title: This family is so great… Wish they stay in Thailand forever… [this is a sarcastic taunt at Suthep for calling on the Shinawatra family to leave Thailand]
Suthep blowing a whistle: Call for an assistance from those who have special power [meaning to ask for help from aristocrats]. Call for a rally to overthrow the government.
On his shirt: 100 dead bodies [refers to the deaths during the 2010 Red Shirt rallies]
Papers around the skulls: Oil palm, building the police stations, and fraud of ALRO-4-01 [these are all scandals Suthep has been connected with]
On the boy’s shirt: Daddy’s boy
On the ball: Land fraud in Kao Pang
On fighting man: Thani Thaugsuban
On man throwing a chair: Chain Thaugsuban [these are both MPs who attempted to disrupt parliament while it was passing controversial bills]
Phi Nooring: To inherit…
A mouse: Causing a conflict
From Manager, November 21, 2013
In the blackboard: Buffaloes are a majority group in the country.
Red buffalo: It’s not true, teacher. I watched “Blue Sky Channel” last night and it said that numbers of people supporting them is higher than us.
[Blue Sky is a cable TV channel run by the Democrat Party. To refer to a person as a "buffalo" is an insult meaning they are stupid. Here it is used to refer to the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts.]
Bangkok protests – Who is Suthep Thaugsuban? – Radio Australia, December 1, 2013
…So this is the quite incredible thing about the recent history of Thai politics. There were elections held in 2001, 2005, 2007 and then in 2011 and so on every occasion over more than a decade, the political parties allied to deposed Prime Minister Thaksin have come through very strongly. And I don’t think there would be any reason to imagine that in an election held say in the early months of 2014, that we would see any different kind of result.
And that’s why it’s so difficult for Suthep and those who are out on the streets of Bangkok, calling for parliament to be dissolved and calling for the Yingluck government to step down. They don’t have an electoral mechanism that they can confidently embrace in the hope of getting the reigns of power for themselves. Because if there is a poll, I think we’d all have to bet on a government or a former government spearheaded by former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in such a scenario coming through and doing very well at the polls. And that just basically puts us back in the same situation yet again.
It’s deja vu, but with this Thai style dynamic, which is dangerous, violent and in some cases at least, utterly unpredictable.
Cambodian Authorities Move to Sue Pro-Opposition Newspaper Publisher – VOA, December 2, 2013
Cambodian authorities are moving to file a lawsuit against a pro-opposition newspaper publisher after his paper stood by its article accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of using the military to illegally gain votes in recent national polls…
Political crisis in Thailand – ABC, December 3, 2013
…Mr Suthep, with the backing of his old Democrat Party, wants to replace the elected government with what he calls a People’s Council.
It’s a coded phrase for the appointment of a parliament chosen by the mob, the monarchy and the military. He makes no mention of elections.
The prime minister isn’t having a bar of it, and she’s worried how this looks to foreigners…
From Manager, November 20, 2013
The red buffalo (representing Thaksin’s Red Shirt supporters): What the heck? Even when we heavily pressured them, they still judge that we’re guilty!!!
[This refers to the intense pressure the courts have been under from Red Shirts this year to rule in favor of the government. In May court offices were besieged with threats that judges would be kidnapped and replaced with pro-Red Shirt judges. Later Red Shirts threatened to blockade judges residences in the lead up to ruling on the ruling party's constitutional amendments. To refer to a person as a "buffalo" is an insult meaning they are stupid.]
From Post Today, November 18, 2013
Suthep and Abhisit are trying to cut a tree on which is written “Thaksin’s regime.” The cartoon implies that former Deputy PM Suthep Thausuban and former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva from the Democrat Party are facing a difficulty trying to overthrow the Thaksin’s regime even they can call a large rally against Yingluck’s government.]
From Thairath, November 23, 2013
Left: We don’t accept the constitution court’s ruling!…
Middle: …the ruling is contradictory to the democratic principle and destroys the institute of the family.
Another voice: Destroys how?
Right, Somsak: Takes husbands and wives apart by not allowing the husband-wife parliament.
[Somsak is house speaker and joint-seat convention speaker, Somsak Kiatsuranont. This refers to the so-called “husband-wife” parliament of the Thaksin era when the supposedly neutral senate became packed with relatives of government MPs. More on this idea here.)
Thai protest leader Suthep a son of the elite with an axe to grind – SCMP, December 1, 2013
Most people faced with potential treason charges would be in hiding or running for their lives.
But not Suthep Thaugsuban, the former deputy prime minister turned street protester, who has emerged as the key figure in the political turmoil currently engulfing Thailand…
Ending the Red Shirt rally is in keeping with the overriding government desire to avoid escalation and chaos that the opposition is seeking to strengthen their claims. The government will continue to emphasize that it is following all the rules and that the protesters are committing criminal acts.
In terms of the political calculation of a sitting government vs a Thai-style protest (protest in the Thai world being a symbol, calculated by big men or not, that polite interaction is at an end and society is shamed by disunity) events now are similar to the dynamics of the 2009 and 2010 protests–it is just that the players are reversed.
Red-shirt leaders end rally
Jatuporn claims four Red Shirts killed last night
Songkhla protesters storm exhibition promoting the government’s plan to construct a high-speed rail system
PM Yingluck’s 10 Year Old Son Targeted By Protesters
State union workers to join anti-Thaksin regime protest today
From Manager, November 21, 2013
Thaksin as a tree: Tu, where are the red buffaloes?
Tu [nickname of Red Shirt leader Jatupron Prompan]: They don’t work on Sunday, sir.
Caption: Sunday the 24th…
[Refers to November 24, 2013 when anti-government protest leader Suthep Thausuban called for a million people to demonstrate against the "Thaksin regime" and its deep roots--thus Thaksin is often portrayed these days as a tree.
On November 24 the Red Shirts held a low-key gathering in the east of the city, likely designed not to give the opposition a chance to clash with it. Suthep appeared to be ready to call off the anti-government protest which led the Red Shirts to disband their gathering the same day. However, the anti-government forces then extended and enlarged their protests, leaving the Red Shirts without a large force ready to confront them. There is also fear that many disillusioned Red Shirts might not wish to support the cause of amnesty for Thaksin.
To refer to a person as a "buffalo" is an insult meaning they are stupid. Here it is used to refer to the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts.]
From Nation Weekend, November 22, 2013
Cover reads: The Great Whistle
[Reference is to reaction of the leaders of the mass protest at Rajadamnoen Avenue to the Constitution Court's ruling on November 20. The Court ruled out that the action of of the accused 312 MPs and senators, who collectively proposed a draft of the constitution amendment on the selection of senators, contradicts section 68 of the constitution. However, the protest leaders resolved that the protest must go on until they can root out the Thaksin regime once and for all.]
From Matichon Weekly, November 22, 2013
Cover reads: Loy Krathong Pheu Thai, Ying Loy Yingluck
[Reference is to Suthep Thuagsuban, the key leader of protesters at Ratjadamnoen Avenue, invited the protesters to loy (float) Krathong decorated with photo of Premier Yingluck Shinawatra out in the river on the Loy Krathong on November 17. The act is symbolically ridding Yingluck of her power while awaiting the Constitution Court's ruling to amend the constitution.]
From ASTV Manager Weekly, November 23, 2013
Cover reads: Set Zero the Slavery Parliament
[The refers to Thaksin's (and others') comments about an amnesty or reconciliation setting everything back to zero. The cover makes the point that the parliament, which it deems a "slave parliament" for doing Thaksin's bidding, should be set back to zero.]
Thailand’s red-shirt heartland hides its strength – Reuters, November 29, 2013
…Kwanchai styles himself as a true Thaksin loyalist and was a supporter of the amnesty bill. But perhaps contradictorily, he is also a critic of red shirts who have joined the Puea Thai government.
“The people have seen so many red shirts have taken positions in the government. It makes them feel these people are not fighting for democracy but fighting for themselves,” he said.
Combined with the rice harvest and the general difficulty of organising protesters to support, rather than oppose, a government, Kwanchai estimated he is able to marshal about half as many protesters as he could in 2010.
Kwanchai sent hundreds of his supporters to Bangkok earlier in the week, but was barred from going on stage by the UDD leader, Tida. She accuses him of being an opportunist who has attached himself to Thaksin for his own benefit. He reckons she wants to steer the movement down the dangerous path of opposing Thailand’s revered monarchy…
Thanks to nearly everyone for sending the link to this… A amazingly concise overview of how Thaksin might possibly feel…
Berlusconi and Shinawatra: The billionaires who love power more than money – The Independent, November 28, 2013
…Thaksin Shinawatra, who drew his mass support from Thailand’s rural hinterland, has a better claim than Berlusconi to have been a reforming prime minister. His policies did much to improve the lot of Thailand’s rural poor, who were his main supporters, while doing nothing to harm the mobile phone and other companies that were the foundation of his fortune. But as with Berlusconi, his financial power gave the political playing field a permanent tilt.
Shinawatra has lived outside the country since 2008 but still rules it virtually through his current party, called Pheu Thai. His youngest sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is Prime Minister now, but it is big brother who still calls the shots, issuing orders via a dozen mobile phones, through social networks and by Skype, and summoning his minions for face-to-face meetings when there are important decisions to take…
The Economist November 30th edition will not be distributed in Thailand over some pointed comments directed at the monarchy. It is one of those articles that ends with advice for all sides with the assumption that every culture would naturally desire to behave according to Western codes of political conduct.
From Thairath, November 20, 2013
Cartoon title: The hands that commit the crime against the democratic system
On upper hand: Sloppy justice
On upper sleeve: Interfering in the legislative power and the constitutional jurisdiction
On lower hand: Establish the power above people
On the sleeve: Independent organizations
On the sleeve: Results of the dictatorial power the coup (on Sept. 19, 2006)
The people from left: senate speaker, Nikhom Wairatchapanich, house speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont, Premier Yingluck Shinawatra
Phi Nooring: To yield means to die. If fight, we still have a chance to survive.
Mouse: Amend the entire constitution
[refers to the desire of the government to rewrite the constitution after being halted by the courts]
Thailand’s Democrat Party Is Hilariously Misnamed – Time, November 28, 2013
…It’s just that when it comes to Thai democracy, the ironically named Democrat Party is among the worst practitioners. Tens of thousands of Yellow Shirts are marching across the country, but demanding the establishment of royalist councils is hardly a people’s revolution. If anyone has been exercising people power, it’s the 15 million voters who elected Yingluck and her Pheu Thai party in July 2011. Thaksin-backed political parties have won the previous five elections with significant majorities, and Thaksin’s own populist policies helped bring millions of rural poor out of poverty. He remains the kingdom’s most popular Prime Minister since the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932…
From Post Today, November 22, 2013
At left Suthep Thuagsuban is blowing a normal size of whistle at a red crab. “Crab” is “Poo” in Thai, which is also nickname of the Premier Yingluck Shinawatra.
At right, the whistle becomes large to symbolize the mass rally at Ratchadamnoen Avenue.
At bottom right corner: His [whistle] is really powerful…