The Missing Marker and Thai Democracy

The Missing Marker and Thai Democracy

Do all Thai roads lead to Singapore?

Do all Thai roads lead to Singapore?

Who will come crawling?

Who will come crawling?

Analysis: Thailand’s Half Democracy

Analysis: Thailand’s Half Democracy

Thaksin shifts puppets

Thaksin shifts puppets

How many died in the Thai drug purges?

How many died in the Thai drug purges?

Junta gives up on reform of the police

Junta gives up on reform of the police

Sucking Ghost

Sucking Ghost

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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No corruption in the army

From Thairath, March 29, 2018
Title: I do not allow corruption in the army.
Black bags at left: GT 200. Thai veteran organization. The secret budget. Buy weapons. [these are all corruption scandals the military has been involved in]
PM Prayuth holds Deputy PM Prawit whose arms are covered with expensive watches. PM Prawit has been accused of having undeclared wealth due to the very expensive watches he was been seen wearing.
Mouse man: Easy to prohibit… but hard to do. [meaning it is easy to say there is no corruption, but it is difficult to make sure there is none in practice]
Mouse: Teaches baby crabs. [From the fable, “The Mother Crab and Her Son” meaning you cannot tell someone to do something when you will not do it. Here, it means that Prayuth cannot just declare there is no corruption and not to be corrupt when obviously he has little interest in tackling the corruption around him.]

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Political vacuum cleaners

Above: from 2002

PM says he’s no ‘vacuum cleaner’ – Bangkok Post, April 25, 2018
…”For anyone who would suck up or be sucked up to, it is their business,” said Gen Prayut. “They [political parties] have to take care of their members the best they can…”

[Political kingpins who collect MPs into their political cliques are described as “vacuum cleaners.”
Non-Thai observers often attribute a Thai prime minsiter’s success to electoral popularity, but the success is really due to the skillful binding together of existing MP groupings to support a certain candidate.
Thaksin previously used this vacuum cleaner technique to create his monolithic Thai Rak Thai party.]

Remembering the Thaksin Years: Sucking up MPs
Remembering the Thaksin years: Thaksin Is Taking Over

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CIA’s legacy of torture lives on in Thailand

CIA’s legacy of torture lives on in Thailand – LAT, April 23, 2018
…Thailand was home to the agency’s first secret prison, or “black site,” after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. There, American officers repeatedly waterboarded at least two high-profile detainees, part of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that much of the world would later describe as torture.
In all, 10 CIA prisoners were arrested or held on Thai soil before being transferred without due process to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or to other countries, according to a 2013 report by the Open Society Justice Initiative, which has studied the detention program.
…“For most people, this is a non-issue. Why? Because in Thailand, torture by officers is common,” he said. “But I am truly ashamed at my country for allowing this to happen.”

Past mentions of the Thai secret prison

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Books that prime ministers recommend

From Thairath, March 31, 2018
Title: The PM, who loves to read, recommends a book
On the chair on the left: PM from the people
Words close to the chair: Past 2544-2549 [the years, 2001-2006, Thakisn served as PM]
On the book held by Thaksin: “As the future catches you” [this is a bestseller about change and the future recommended by Thaksin]
On the chair on the right: PM from a coup
Words close to the chair: Present 2557-2561 [the years, 2014-2018, Prayuth has served as PM]
PM Prayuth thinks: At the tavern, it is full of a smoke of sake making…
On the book: Jindamanee version King Borommakot
Phi Nooring: Vision is totally different.
Mouse: A frog in the past.

[Refers to different recommended books suggested by Thai leaders. In the cartoon, Thaksin recommends a book encouraging people to think about the future.
PM Prayuth however, encourages people to read “Jindamanee,” the first Thai textbook launched long ago during the Ayutthaya period.
Thaksin sits in a modern or international way, wearing a business suit and sitting on a chair while PM Prayuth wears traditional clothing and sits on the floor in a slightly fey manner recalling the subservient style of the past.
“A frog in the past” is from the Thai proverb “a frog in the coconut’s shell” meaning someone with a small view of the world who thinks they know what the whole world is like. Junta supporters are often derided as “a frog in the coconut’s shell.” Here, Prayuth himself is a “frog” who is stuff with the ideas of the past.
This cartoon is an interesting challenge to the major trends of the day. At present, wearing traditional clothing, reading “Jindamanee,” and harking back to the styles of the past are in vogue.]

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More Songkran Cartoons, April 13-14, 2018

From Daily News, April 13, 2018
Title: Happy Songkran day… Ao jao.
Words from left to right: Democrat Party (by Democrat leader Abhisit), Pheu Thai political group (by a stylized Res Shirt leader throwing flames and next to a head member to indicate the Red Shirt assertions that they never committed arson, but were framed), NCPO (on the shirt of junta chief Prayuth), corrupted government officers (referring to the many recent corruption scandals)

[“Ao jao” is an old-fashioned Thai pronoun/prefix for a person younger than the speaker. This pronoun become popular again due to the Bupphaesannivas drama.]

From Thairath, April 14, 2018
Left, the spirit house says: Seven dangerous days during Songkran, if everyone considers about being Thai…
Middle, the spirit house: …the number of people dying due to accidents will be less than this…
Man: Why do you say this?
Right: We have already warned that giving an alcohol is like a curse. But people only think about this for international New Year. That’s why at Thai New Year, they are getting so badly drunk!

[The Songkran holidays are referred to as the seven deadly days because of the astonishing numbers of traffic fatalities, most involving alcohol.
For many years the government has promoted the “giving alcohol is like a curse” advertising campaign to try to break the Thai tradition of giving alcohol as a gift.
The campaign is conducted around the January 1 new year and not the Thai new year. the cartoonist jokes that Thais then feel free to drink at the Thai new year since they abstained during the January 1 new year.]

From Khaosod, April 14, 2018
Title: Enjoy splashing water, but don’t splash the polluted water on others. Songkran ๒๕๖๑
On a bucket: Politics 4.0

[The cartoon implies that people should stop slandering others, presumably over politics, and likens this to pouring polluted water on others during Songkran.
We are not sure why the cartoon mentions the year 2475 at right. This is the year 1932, the year of the revolution that overthrew the absolute monarchy.
It seems to hint that if the junta does not stop slandering their opposition it could lead to the coup like the Siamese revolution in 1932.]

From Daily News, April 14, 2018
Title: Songkran Happy
Top left: Happy to splash clean water
Top right: Happy to wear proper dress [refers to official statements that women should not wear provocative clothing and this will prevent them from being groped]
Middle left: Happy to drive without drinking
Middle right: If you have a mobile phone, you should have a cover to resist water. Then, you will be happy.
Bottom left: Happy to visit temples to make merit
Bottom right: Happy to pour water on seniors and ask for their blessing.

[Refers to all activities to do during Songkran which are considered proper.]

From Daily News, April 14, 2018
Title: Bangkok
Building says: This atmosphere is hardly seen. [meaning the roads are deserted during Songkran]
Road says: Very clear

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The peasants love the aristocrats

From Manager, March 27, 2018
Red Shirt leader Thida Thavornseth: This is a history of the elite… not “phai” like us!!
On the people’s shirts: Phai
On the TV: Bupphesanniwat
Caption: Now, she hardly controls all phai.

[The Red Shirts have claimed to speak for the poor of Thailand and at various times have promised societal upheavals where peasants (“phai”) would rise up to overthrow “aristocrats.”
Despite all of this being conducted on behalf of a deposed billionaire politician–Thaksin Shinawatra–the movement gained many ardent supporters and seemed, at times, to really challenge the traditional Bangkok establishment and its top-down system of governing.
This cartoon shows Red Shirt “peasants” watching the period drama “Bupphesanniwat” (or “Love Destiny”).
The popularity of the drama is so great that street traffic abates on Wednesday and Thursday evenings when it airs and Thais have taken up the fad of wearing old-style Thai dress.
The drama concerns elite aristocrats in the Ayutthaya era so the cartoonist notes how the universal popularity of the shows seems to undercut Red Shirt claims that the common man of the country hates the elites and wishes to overthrow them.]

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The rich man is not full yet

From Manager, March 26, 2018
Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak: Wait… Jao saow is not full yet.
On the food: Makkasan land
People: Mr. Somkid… there is nothing coming out to us yet.

[Refers Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak’s mega project plan to improve the country’s infrastructure by investing huge amounts in high speed railways linking main airports that serve the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme.
Makkasan Station area will be the center of the high-speed railway system in the future. This has caused land prices in this area to skyrocket.
“Jao saow” is a Chinese word meaning “rich man.”
Does anyone know who the man on the toilet is?]

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Is it right for Thais?

From Arun, March 26, 2018
Title: German model – A solution for Thailand’s electoral system

[Refers to a recommendation by Prof. Dr. Nakharin Mektrairat, one of the constitution drafters, to adopt a German-style electoral system with a party-list system. This is essentially to prevent a single party–no doubt controlled by Thaksin–from controlling the government.
This makes a joke about the “German Standard” electoral system and “American Standard” toilets which are widely used in Thailand.
It shows a Thai man in traditional dress who is not tall enough to use a German standard toilet. This suggests, perhaps, that the new system is not appropriate for Thai culture.]

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Thais can kill more

From Manager, April 16, 2018
Trump: We are making a war and could kill only three people… but you make Songkarn and killed more than 300 people?!!

[Contrasts the West’s strike on Syria that killed three people with Thailand’s chaotic Songkran festival that resulted in hundreds dying in traffic accidents.
The number of dead–three–must have been from initial reports of the strike as the death toll was eventually reported as being higher.]

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RIP “Rong” Narong Prapasanobol, cartoonist

From Thairath, March 23, 2018
Title: RIP “Rong” Narong Prapasanobol, cartoonist
Phi Nooring: A teacher. A legend of Thai cartoons.
Mouse: Popular among the youth.
On his hat: Chaiyaphruek cartoon.

[Refers to the passing away of famous Thai cartoonist Narong Prapasanobol due to illness. He was a cartoonist at the Chaiyaphruek cartoon (or comics) magazine—one of the country’s oldest comics. In the picture, it shows two of his cartoon characters paying respects and farewell to him.]

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Songkran Cartoons, April 11-13, 2018

From Manager, April 12, 2018
On the curtain: Aojao, please allow me to close the curtain for going to celebrate Songkran.
Caption: See you on 17 April
[Refers to a celebration of Thai traditional new year ‘Songkran day’ during April 13-15 everyday.
In the cartoon, the artist is telling people he will stop drawing during the festival time and return on April 17.
The cartoon shows the junta led by PM Prayuth, Deputy PM Prawit, Anupong and Somkid splashing water with politicians such as Abhisit and Suthep on the left while Sudarat and Thida are on the right.
“Ao jao” is an old-fashioned Thai pronoun/prefix for a person younger than the speaker. This pronoun become popular again due to the Bupphaesannivas drama.]

From Daily News, April 13, 2018
Title: Amazing Songkran ๒๕๖๑

[Refers to a celebration of Thai traditional New Year held on Apr 13-15, 2018. ๒๕๖๑ is the Thai year–2561 or 2018.
In the cartoon, the junta led by PM Prayuth is on the litter carried by Deputy PM Somkid. Deputy PM Prawit is at left of the litter with several luxury watches on his arm. Close to him is a ballot box referring to a coming election.
In the foreground, construction tycoon Premchai is shooting a water gun at a black panther. Premchai was arrested due to alleged illegal hunting.
The young student at right cartoon is political activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal who always criticizes the junta and calls for elections.
In the background is the construction project of the judge’s residences on a mountain in Chiang Mai. The ugly way it cut into the mountain prompted protests from local residents.]

From Matichon, April 13, 2018
Title: Songkran ๒๕๖๑
[Refers to a celebration of Thai traditional New Year held on Apr 13-15, 2018. ๒๕๖๑ is the Thai year–2561 or 2018.
Like Chinese years, the Thai years are represented by different animals–saying that the Songkran god rides that animal. This year it is the peacock. In the cartoon, the junta members including PM Prayuth, Deputy PM Wissanu, Prawit, Anupong and Somkid are dancing with Democrat Party’s leader Abhisit and others.]

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How to stop officials from being corrupt?

From Thairath, March 22, 2018
Title: Exchanging questions with each other
Officer: How to stop people from being stupid?
On paper held by officer: Stupid
Man: How to stop officials from being corrupt?
On paper held by man: Corrupt
On man’s shirt: Stupid poor and hurt
Phi Nooring: Still, there are a lot of officers who are good.
Mouse: Don’t look down on people

[Refers to a disclosure of an official letter calling where a provincial officer openly discussed how stupid people are. It seemed to show government attitudes towards the people they serve.
The letter caused strong criticism from the public at a time when government officials are facing news about massive corruption in the distribution of poverty funds.]

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Casting a net

From Thairath, March 21, 2018
Left, man: What is this rally?
Woman: To overthrow the fisherman.
Middle, man: What did the fisherman do wrong?
Woman: [He was] Disguised as a prosecutor…
Right: …revising the docket of PDRC like casting a net with no direction.

[Refers to the case of leaders of People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), including Suthep Thaugsuban, who were indicted on treason and terrorism charges linked to the protest in 2014 to overthrow Yingluck’s government.
This cartoon uses the idiom “casting a net” meaning not doing something specifically, but doing it general, broad way.
The cartoon criticizes the government prosecutor on their broad indictment of the PDRC.]

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Weekly News Magazines: Love Destiny, April, 2018

From Matichon Weekly, April 6-12, 2018
Main cover picture: The NCPO is an investigator of no “corruption”
[Refers to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO; the ruling junta). The junta has loudly proclaimed it will get rid of corruption in the country and that the supposedly impartial military is superior to elected politicians.
However, this headline, pasted over a photo of Deputy PM Prawit, ridicules the junta and its hypocrisy over corruption.
In a normal elected government, a minister with the scandals Prawit has endured would have had to leave his post long ago. However, as a top member of the armed forces that overthrew the last government and now holds power by force, Prawit cannot be removed from his post.
This issue has greatly impacted junta popularity.]

Top right: Nidhi Eoseewong. Talks about “Thai traditional dress” fever. “The perception of the nation is different.”
[Refers to famous Thai historian Nidhi Eoseewong who expressed his view on the trend of wearing Thai traditional dress influenced by the popular period soap opera Bupphaesannivas (Love Destiny). The trend seems to express a desire for the simpler aristocratic times of the past.]

From Siamrath Weekly Review, April 6-12, 2018
Main cover reads: He established the Chakri dynasty. He protected a land of Siam. He developed and helped people to have better lives. He ruled the country with royal virtues.
[Refers to Chakri Memorial day on April 6. Chakri Day commemorates the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty by Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke known as King Rama I (pictured) in 1782.]

From Manager Weekly, March 31-April 6, 2018
Main cover reads: Does Ao jao want to have an election?
[Refers to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (pictured with the cast and production staff of the popular period soap opera Bupphaesannivas).
During a visit with the cast and production staff of the Bupphaesannivas at Government House, PM Prayuth asked them whether they want to have an election. Some said they want, but they understand and would follow the roadmap of the junta. The clip of their conversation was posted on social media and provoked much discussion from the public. “Ao jao” is an old-fashioned Thai pronoun/prefix for a person younger than the speaker. This pronoun become popular again due to the Bupphaesannivas drama.]

Top: An effort has never killed anyone who has. ‘Noey-Music BNK 48’ Center couple who are popular among Ota.
[Refers to center of famous girl group BNK48. Noey and Music (girls pictured). They are very popular among fan clubs. BNK48 is a sister-girl group of Japanese famous girl group AKB48. The word “ota” comes from the Japanese word “otaku” meaning a person who likes something very obsessively.]

Bottom left: Channel 7 in crisis. The champion loses. The city surrounded the forest and don’t have main attractive casts.
[Refers to an intense TV competition faced by Channel 7 which used to dominate ratings nationwide. Thanks to the popular period soap opera Bupphaesannivas (or “Love Destiny”), Channel 3 is now beating Channel 7.
“The city surrounded the forest” is a play on the communist strategy of the “forest surrounding the city” meaning to use the peasant power of the countryside to conquer the urban areas.
In the case of Channel 3, they used the popularity of their shows in Bangkok (“the city”) to encourage people outside (“the forest”) to watch the drama, mainly by blanketing the internet with social media posts about the show. The headline also notes Channel 7 are not running shows with well-known cast members either.]
Bottom right: Ending of the “carved out-forest residences” stops the conflict. “Uncle Pom” did a good thing for the first time.
[Refers to Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan (pictured) handling the conflict over the construction of a judge’s residences complex that was cut into a mountain in Chiang Mai.
After local protests, Deputy PM Prawit (nicknamed “Pom”), decided to end the project and find an appropriate solution. His swift action was praised by the public even though he himself has been plagued by several damaging scandals.]

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The common man is really the outsider

From Thairath, March 19, 2018
Left: We don’t want the PM from the outsider! The outsider has become widely reviled.
Middle, thin man: Even Big Pom doesn’t like the outsider!
Fat man: What did Big Pom say?
Right: Big Pom warned the outsider to stop criticizing about the black panther [case].

[The cartoon first shows a rally where anti-junta protesters warn that PM Prayuth will attempt to extend his power as PM after the next elections by having MPs select him as an “outsider” (or unelected) prime minister.
This parallels events in 1990-1992 where one of the coup-generals, Suchinda, was about to be appointed prime minister. People came out on the streets to protest this which led to many deaths and the collapse of the government. Subsequent constitutions were written to make sure an outsider PM could not be appointed again.
However, the latest junta-approved charter seems explicitly designed to enable an outsider PM to be appointed so that another Thaksin-directed party cannot take power.
The cartoonist’s joke is that Deputy PM Prawit (nicknames “Big Pom”) warned the media and the public to stop criticizing the investigation of the illegal hunting case against business tycoon Premchai. This is a rejection of public opinion from self-appointed military rulers. This makes common people and the media merely “outsiders” in public life as insiders like the military junta and police investigators will handle the case in their own way.]

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Who will come crawling?

From Manager, April 8, 2018
Left, PM Prayuth: Let’s watch… after the election he will come to me asking to be part of my government.
Right, Democrat Party head Abhisit: Let’s watch… after the election he will come to me asking for the support to be Prime Minister.
Caption: Do you think after the election… who will be crawling to whom?

[This cartoon points up the conflict between the ruling junta and the Democrat Party.

For several years now, the junta has been positioning itself to control the government after the next elections.

In past years, the complex issue of who will lead the Pheu Thai Party encouraged the junta. For the first time, it seemed as though Thaksin might not be able to exercise full control over the party’s leadership to force it to forego maintaining normal government stability to once again attempt a charter rewrite. There were also signs that party itself might fragment under the growing feeling that Thaksin could no longer dominate government.

With the highly restrictive military-approved charter in place, it seemed that the junta was poised to maintain its hold on government.

Underpinning this would have been the Democrat Party. As the largest party not controlled by Thaksin, it was thought that the Democrat Party would find a way to support a post-election coalition that excludes the Pheu Thai and also supports Prayuth to stay on as PM under the guise of a compromise for political stability.

The Democrats have been noted (and derided) for being eager to take advantage of the political chaos that follows Thaksin and his political parties. This means that the Democrats seek to be at the core of a government that excludes Thaksin-controlled parties, particularly after events that destabilize the previous government.

In a surprise move, the Democrat Party declared it would not support the return of Prayuth for PM after the next elections. The Democrats have also distanced themselves from a breakaway party to be composed of Democrat MPs that will support a military PM after the elections.

This has sent shockwaves through politics as it means the military has little chance to maintain power after elections and that the odds that Thaksin’s Pheu Thai will be the core of the next government increase.

This new confidence about the Pheu Thai is reflected in Thaksin’s raised political profile and comments about politics, as well as declarations from Pheu Thai leadership hopefuls that a referendum to rewrite the constitution will be a top priority for the party and the nation.

All of this would indicate yet another return to the cycle of Thaksin manipulating the government for amnesty and then another round of protests, bloodshed or coups.

However, there is a more pragmatic view. This view is that it seems unlikely that the parts of the military, politics, business and bureaucracy that oppose Thaksin will let the Thaksin cycle repeat itself yet again.

The cartoon seems to suggest that, at some point, the military and the Democrat Party must work together or risk handing back government once again to Thaksin and his family.

Almost the exact same sort of calculations were discussed before the 2011 elections. It was assumed then that there would be a broad swath of electoral winners and some sort of Thaksin-blocking government could be formed. Instead, the Pheu Thai won big and were able to form the government in the way they wanted.

This time around an overwhelming vote for the Pheu Thai would throw all of these plans for the military to hold on to power into question. Even with a new parliament packed with hand-picked military men, it would be a daunting undertaking to have the military stall or block seating a PM from the political party with an overwhelming win.

No wonder the junta seems so eager to continually postpone setting an election date.

It is likely that any real change in the future cycle of politics will come from within the Phea Thai itself. With political kingmaker Sanoh Thienthong in the news it seems there is a real struggle going on for control of the Pheu Thai. Sanoh and his mastery of blocks of MPs have been able to both bring governments to power as well as cause them to collapse.

Sanoh influencing the party either directly or indirectly could mean a muting of Thaksin goals such as charter rewrites and budget-busting populist handouts. It could see a fragmentation of the diverse collections of MPs that were brought together under the Pheu Thai banner. It would be a switch to governing with the goal of maintaining coalition stability as opposed to the gambits of risking it all for high-stakes amnesty. But it would also mean a very venal government that makes deals between itself and the military to ensure its own continued survival.

All these years after the ground-breaking 1997 “People’s Charter,” Thailand might be returning to a version of its own past that emphasizes stability over the reform, populism and absolute power politics of the Thaksin era.]

And here is a totally opposite opinion: Rice Wars – A New Hope (i.e. It’s all about returning democracy, Thanatorn’s new party has no political baggage, Pheu Thai’s leader is not being selected in Dubai)

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Talking to the snake

From Arun, March 12, 2018
Title: “Thanathorn-Nitrat”
On the snake: Authoritarianism

[Refers to the Future Forward political party established by businessman Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit that has joined hands with various young generation and academic groups including the “Enlightened jurists” or Nitirat—academics from Thammasart University who openly condemn the lese majeste law. The party announces it will change Thai politics, fight dictatorship and return democracy.
We are not sure what the allusion to the snake is. Is he talking or kissing it?
Critics see the party as another attempt by pro-Thaksin politicians to use socialist or revolutionary rhetoric to threaten traditional Thai institutions who resist Thaksin’s goal of being pardoned.]

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Weekly News Magazines: Jindamanee 0.4, March, 2018

From Matichon Weekly, March 30-April 5, 2018
Main cover picture: Jindamanee 0.4
[Refers to “Jindamanee,” an early Thai textbook written during the Ayutthaya period. PM Prayuth recommend people read it to encourage appreciation of Thai culture and history. This is part of the history craze surrounding the “Love Destiny” soap opera.
In the picture, PM Prayuth and his cabinet wear Thai traditional dresses to encourage people to wear Thai dress when visiting temples.
This headline makes a joke of the junta’s “Thailand 4.0” policy to promote a digital economy. The joke is that while pushing a moderna and advanced country, they suddenly jump on broad a history fad and start promoting the wisdom of the past.]

Top right: After ‘Mark Zuckerburg’ destroys the ‘trust’
[Refers to the Facebook data scraping scandal.]

From Siamrath Weekly Review, March 30-April 5, 2018
Main cover reads: Events of politics?
[Refers to the political protests and activities to pressure the junta to have quicker elections. The activities also promote recognition for the public of political parties and groups that need to raise their profiles again for elections.]

From Manager Weekly, March 31-April 6, 2018
Main cover reads: NBTC the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission – Loss for every channels and failure for every network
[Refers to the unsatisfying performance of the the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and its mission to promote digital TV and the 4G telephone system.
Most media companies involved in digital TV have faced losses. Instead of support from the NBTC, they then face lawsuits from the organization for not being able to pay licensing fees. Thailand also lags far behind neighboring countries in implementing a 4G mobile phone system.]

Top: “Military” makes sure for extending its power. Pressure “electioneers” to take sides. All [parities} are fine except [those who support] “Maew’s system” [Thaksin’s power]
[To get rid of Thaksin influence, the junta is doing everything to make sure that political parties do not support the return of Thaksin.]

Bottom left: Glancing at ‘Ao jao Clara’ a sexy jealous character ‘Suri-Suzana’
[Refers to Suzana Suri Renaud, one of actresses who plays the stock jealous character in the Thai period soap opera “Bupphesanniwat” (Love Destiny). Although her role is not the main role, with her beauty, she has become very popular with audiences.]
Middle: Shock removal of “Chod” from “GMM25”
[Refers to the sacking of famous DJ and CEO of GMM25 Saithip “Chod” Montrikul Na Ayudhaya (pictured). She was moved from CEO to be a vice president of the GMM25 although. She denied that it was due to the decline of profits for the channel.]
Right: Misunderstanding about rabies can lead to death.
[Refers to the nationwide outbreak of rabies.]

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Power of the grassroots

From Arun, March 2, 2018
Tittle: The power of the (grass) root. When the Streblus asper pot at the Government House was broken and this is … cartoon’s prediction.
On the pot from left to right: Injustice, power, corruption

[Refers to an incident when a Streblus asper tree in a pot was broken. Some people believe this may send a signal of bad luck to the junta. This cartoon raises the point that the junta’s inability to address injustice and corruption in its ranks will lead to its overthrow by grassroots voters.]

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Bowing to the mighty

From Stephff, The Nation, March, 2018

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A young girl does a better job than the PM

From Manager, March 14, 2018
Left: The success of the Prime Minister suppressing corruption.
Right: …from an intern.
On the fish: Corruption of money to pay to the poor

[This refers to the stunning scandal uncovered by a young whistle blower who was an intern at a state agency.
After she left the position, she exposed embezzlement at a welfare center. She claimed that her internship at a government job required her to forge the signatures of thousands of people so that her superiors could pocket the money.
Since then, the scandal has spread out to many more provinces and is one of the largest mass graft schemes exposed in recent years.
The cartoonist notes that the government, while continually touting its desire to reform the system and end corruption, has very little to show for their efforts despite having absolute power to do whatever they want.]

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Not about Thaksin, only about fear

From Thairath, March 13, 2018
Title: Waking up, running away.
On the shirt of the hooded figure: Democrat Party
Hooded figure says: Splash talking [Thais symbolize harsh rhetoric as saliva being spit out of the mouth; also, pro-Thaksin groups joke that the Democrat Party is only “good at talking”]
Right on PM Prayuth’s suit at right: Return happiness [the junta’s motto]
Prayuth says: Splash tax money [something like “throw money that is from the taxpayers”]
On the bags on the ground: Thai-Niyom-Young-Yeun project. Give money to the poor.
Mouse man: Afraid of failing, must awake Thaksin’s ghost.
Mouse: Afraid everything.

[The Thai-Niyom-Young-Yeun is a project to dole out money to the poor in every province of Thailand–much like the programs Thaksin pioneered when he was prime minister.
The cartoonist alludes to the claims of pro-Red Shirt and pro-Thaksin groups that Thaksin is not at all involved in politics. This claim continues that he has only had to become involved recently because failing political entities in Thailand find it necessary to demonize him to blame him for the country’s woes. These political entities also dole out money that mimics Thaksin’s innovations as prime minister.]

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The election commissioner talked too much

From Thairath, March 24, 2018
Title: Come together, but leave alone
EC commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn: They said I talked so much.
On the sleeve: Return happiness [the junta’s motto]
On the hand: Article 44
On the paper: EC roadmap to postpone the election
Word between the finger and the paper: Ding [the sound of snapping fingers]
Phi Nooring: Know what the NCPO is up to.
Mouse: Obstacle…

[Refers to PM Prayut, head of the National Council for Peace and Order (the ruling junta), who used the military’s absolute power under Article 44 to remove Somchai Srisutthiyakorn as an election commissioner.
The junta claimed that there were conflicts of interests and comments made by Somchai that could “confuse the public” about the upcoming election.
Somchai has openly criticized the military’s move to remove all the election commissioners and have them replaced.
All of this is another indication what the military is seeking to maintain control of government after the elections and has jettisoned earlier pledges of reform and fair dealing.]

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Weekly News Magazine: New-Old Politics, March, 2018

From Matichon Weekly, March 24-30, 2018
Main cover picture: Back to the Future
[Refers to the competition between the old establishment powers and a new generation of ambitious politicians in the coming election. While the junta, led by PM Prayuth (pictured left), is preparing to hold onto power after the next elections, a new party led by young billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (pictured right) was established with the aim to end military involvement in governing the country.
“Back to the Future” implies that this new political match up is simply the same as the political tussles that have been happening over the last 20 years, starting with Thaksin first began gaining political popularity.]

Top right: To catch up the trend of Bupphe which is very popular in ‘Ayutthaya period’ ‘Big Tu’ seize the opportunity to wear Thai national dress.
[Refers to the popular Thai period soap “Bupphesanniwat” or “Love Destiny.” The drama takes place during the Ayutthaya period. Thanks to the drama, mnay people have become more interested in the country’s history and culture, particularly in wearing Thai traditional dress. PM Prayuth has encouraged people to wear traditional Thai clothes when visiting temples or historical places.]

From Siamrath Weekly Review, March 23-29, 2018
Main cover reads: Way to two intersections
[Refers to PM Prayuth (pictured) who is now facing a dilemma over his future–particularly how he might hold onto the premiership after the next elections. He can either try to be appointed PM as an unelected outsider or establish a military party and participate in politics directly. However, both ways are thought to cause a negative impact to both him and the junta.
An outsider PM is an anathema to many, recalling the bloodshed that followed such move in 1992. A military party offends those who demand an end of army involvement in politics in general.]

From Manager Weekly, March 24-30, 2018
Main cover reads: Corruption nationwide
In boxes at top from left to right: Corruption of the poor [fund], Corruption on the students
Bottom left to right: Corruption on the tribal people, Corruption on the dog [welfare units]
PM Prayuth at bottom right: 90% of corruption was solved!
[Refers to the massive corruption scandals related to the government agencies, such as the corruption in the funds to help the poor, students and tribal people as well as fund for controlling rabies.
These scandals seem to contradict the junta’s vows to fight against corruption in the country.]

Top: NACC changes!! [black] “New-old power” compromise benefits the “powerful person”
[Refers to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) excusing some of its members from qualifications set down in the charter. The Constitutional Court allowed the charter to be contravened by allowing NACC members waivers for certain qualifications.
This led to an criticism that the court’s ruling set a bad precedent by allowing rulings that override the constitution. It is also said the ruling bode ill for the credibility of the anti-graft commissioners. Pol General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit (picture at left) is known to have close ties with Deputy PM Prawit’s family, particularly Pol. General Phatcharavat Wongsuwan (pictured right), who is his former boss.]

Bottom left: Bupphe’s franchise very popular; helps expand many things everywhere
[Refers to the famous Thai period soap “Bupphesanniwat” or “Love Destiny.” The drama has helped promote Thai culture and history. Many businesses have gained a huge benefit from tourism, clothing and book sales, etc. due to the popularity of the drama.]

Bottom right: “Nida poll” was changed to be dominated by the “top boot”
[Refers to well-known polling group NIDA which is alleged to be biased toward the junta. “Top boot” refers to the military.]

From Lokwannee, March 24-30, 2018
Main cover reads: How to end people’s stupidity?
[Refers to an official letter that was leaked and refers to efforts to end the stupidity of provincial people. It seemed to validate the idea that Bangkok officialdom looks down on local people.
We are not sure what the orange refers to. The monkey is the “see no evil…” monkey. The joke may be that the way people can stop being stupid is to not see, hear or speak anything because their world is controlled by the junta now.]

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They don’t really like “We Walk”

From Thairath, March 9, 2018
Title: Just another tumor, not the end of gun barrel.
Woman holds a paper that reads: Complaint to governor.
Mouse man: Must be friends with the people.
Mouse: [He’s] Being angry.

[This refers to the “We Walk” march from Bangkok into the provinces. It is reportedly a movement to highlight the inability or unwillingness of the government to address many problems of everyday people.
Initially, the junta tried to stop the march as they suspected it to be a covert attempt to rouse people to be dissatisfied with military rule. A court ruling then cleared the way for the march and supposedly prohibited the government from stopping it.
However, as the march progressed, those participating repeatedly complained that the military and local officials were violating the court order allowing them to march and hindered the marchers at every turn.
Venues where the marchers were to gather or rest–such as universities–also suddenly became unavailable.
The march progressed despite this and officials seemed to be fuming that a court decision order was being used to thwart junta wishes that the march be stopped.
At one stop, an army colonel was photographed giving the finger to the marchers. This seemed to validate the claims of the organizers that officials were trying to hinder the marchers despite the court ruling and had become frustrated that they could not do so.
The image of the cut finger in the cartoon comes from the idiom “bad tissue” referring to a bad part of the body which may cause the trouble to the whole and thus must be removed.
The cartoonist jokes that the middle finger is a bad part of the junta as the incident exposed the real feelings of the government to the marchers. Thus, this bad finger should be cut off before it brings more trouble to the junta.]

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Can you hear the voice of black panther?

From Manager, March 5, 2018
The dead black panther speaks from the belly of the Italian-Thai company head: He killed me and ate me, look at his belly, it is so clear that you do not need to find anymore evidence, why you still look for more?
Caption: At the time you pay respects… can you hear the voice of black panther?

[This refers to the overly deep and respectful “waii” that the police investigator gave accused the Italian-Thai president who was apprehended in a forest reserve, allegedly hunting endangered animals.
Such obsequious behavior toward the rich and powerful is thought to be typical for the police. Photos of the deep “waii” led to a feeling from the public that, once again, the powerful will not have to face consequences for their actions.]

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Anti-rabies GT 200

From Stephff, The Nation, March, 2018

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His nose will grow to Mars

From Thairath, March 2, 2018
Title: Please stop growing more.
PM Prayuth holding Deputy PM Prawit whose arm is covered with watches to refers to the scandal involving his apparently unexplained wealth.
On his nose: Set the election date.
On the leaves on the ground from left to right: Need some more time. We promise. Wear 2016.
On the other leaves from left to right: year 2017; year 2018; February 2019.
Mouse man: Will it go on to Mars.
mouse: Do what you promise.

[This refers to the ever-lengthening delays to elections with the ruling junta claiming it is due to procedural and legal issues. At the same time the government has been asking the public for more time in power to reform the system.]

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Better Than Losing His Job

From Daily News, March 1, 2018
Inside the box at the top: Regular cartoon by Khod [names of column and the cartoonist]
Left: Better than losing his job
Right, Abhisit thinks: Wait for the result after the election and be ready to support Big Tu [PM Prayuth] to become the PM.

[Refers to the Democrat Party led by Abhisit Vejjajiva.
The cartoon ridicules Abhisit by combining a quote of his about waiting for results after the election with the suspicion that the Democrats will join with military-aligned parties to block Thaksin and his Pheu Thai from power and thus return junta head Prayuth to the prime minister post.
This is expressed by Abhisit shining a military boot.]

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Thai innovation

From Thairath, March 3, 2018
Left: On Tomb Sweeping Day, we will see Chinese people burn silver and gold papers for their ancestors.
Middle, god on the left: But Thai people are more modernized.
God on the right: How modernized?
Right: They can withdraw cash in the name of dead people from the poor center.

[Thais of Chinese descent burn ceremonial paper items to send to their dead ancestors. The joke here is that Thais do something like this by fraudulently stealing funds intended for the poor.
This refers to a recent scandal that found, among other things, money being given to and withdrawn by poor people who were long dead.]

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