Thai Media Project – January 2008

Minister - Made in Hong Kong - Arun, Krungtepturakit, January 27, 2008
It reads: Minister. Made in Hong Kong
[Meaning that Thai government ministers are now controlled by Thaksin from Hong Kong.]

Welcome home - Matichon Weekly, January 25-31, 2008

It reads: Welcome home - Thakino Pikku

"Pikku" is the title for a monk and "Thankino" is the supposed name for Thaksin as a monk. The head monk would give each new monk a new monk-like name based on their given name.

From King Mongkut, who spent 27 years in a monastery after being outmaneuvered for the throne, to dictator Thanom Kittikachorn, whose return as a monk sparked student protests and the massacre of left-wing students, Thais have used the monkhood as a source of protection.


At the bottom left of the cover it reads: Let's run away.
[The sentence is a title of a recent Thai comedy movie. The speaker of the sentence should be a monk, considering the second person pronoun Yome]

Thaksin’s eel curry Nation Weekend, January 25, 2007

The illustration portrays PM Samak making a curry with eels (in a Salvador Dali pose). Eels represent the “slippery” party of Chat Thai led by "eel" Banharn Silaparcha who joined the government after pledging not to.

It is “Thaksin’s” curry because Thaksin is thought to be the real power behind the People Power Party.

The great problem of the people - Poojadkarn, January 26, 2008
The great problem of the people
Left: Rotten debt
Right: Rotten rose-apple
[Samak's oddly shaped nose is said to be in the shape of a rose apple. This cartoon compares the sub prime debt crisis with a "sub prime minister" Samak who alarms many because of his background in right-wing governments of the 1970s as well as his bellicose relations with the press.]

Thanks for the PMship! - Poojadkuan, January 25, 2008

Mak [Samak] pushes Bang [Gen. Sonthi] to be a military minister as a gift for chasing Thaksin and making Mak to be the PM

[Samak rewards Gen. Sonthi for his bungled attempts to stop Thaksin which resulted in the PPP regaining power and allowing Samak to be PM.]

Rewards - Na Ban Bangkae by Bancha Kamin, Poojadkarn, January 25, 2008
Left: Throw at this house, you will get a minister position. [A reference to protesters' attack on Prem's house in July, 2007 implying those who kept up the fight against the military and Prem will be rewarded in a new PPP government.]
Right: Attack this refrigerator, you will get the chairperson of parliament position.
[A reference to Yongyuth's role in leading a police team that raided a suspected drug dealer's house in Ayuthaya in 2004. The police "raid" on the house consisted of showering the house with bullets. The elderly couple who lived in the house survived by hiding behind a refrigerator. The bullet-riddled appliance became a symbol in the press of the authorities' abuse of power and earned Yongyuth the nickname ''Yongyuth, the Refrigerator Man.'']

Yongyuth, the Refrigerator Man - Thairath by Chai Ratchavat, January 26, 2008
People call out to the chairperson of the house: Your respectful Chairperson of Parliament!
[The MPs hide behind refrigerators when calling on House Speaker Yongyuth famed for his involvement with a bullet riddled refrigerator (see above)]

Fighting for the speaker's chair - Arun, Krungtepturakit, January 24, 2008
The caption says something like "War of Angels." We are not quite sure that the point or joke is here. Anyone have an idea?
CB was quick to point out: The soap opera about bitchy air hostesses that is generating a lot of comment is called "Songkhram Nang Fah" which means "War of Angels" (I'd translate it as "Angels at War" or  "Warring Angels"). Air hostess have for obvious reasons always been called angels and "nang fah" is literally "Sky Lady" anyway. So it's a joke that the politicians are obviously no angels.
And futher adds: Interestingly, the Bangkok Post translates "Songkhram Nang Fah" as "Air Hostess War" while The Nation chooses "Battle of Angels". Without the underlying Thai, it looks like two different shows…

Calling on the speaker - Phujatkhan, Na Ban Bangkae by Buncha/Kamin, January 24, 2008
People call out to the chairperson of the house: Your respectful Chairperson of Parliament!
On the speaker's chair is a shoe with
a small sign that reads "Thaksin's shoes"
There is reference here to Thakisn's behind-the-scenes organizing of the political situation, but again we are not sure of the exact point or joke. Anyone have an idea?

Above: "I come home because I am of thinking of my children." Huddled around her are various PPP/TRT politicians. (from Manager, Na Ban Bangkae, by Bancha, January 11, 2008)

The return of Pojaman - January 12, 2008

Below: Pojaman as puppet (from Arun, Krungtepturakit, January 10, 2008)

"It is just a wrong idea..." - Kaolao Ruammitr by Tin, Matichon, January 13, 2008

Top left to right:
* If you want to ask the graduate from abroad to be a clerical staff in the front office. [This refers to the news that Gen. Sonthi asked the daughter of Sodsri Sattiyatham, one of the Election Commission members, to be his clerical staff. This led some to believe this is a favor to Sodsri for favoring CNS positions.]
* If you want to blend oil and water (Under the water bottle: "Party 1," Under the barrel: "Party 2") [A reference to the complex negotiations to create a PPP-led government that includes minor, fractious political parties.]
* If you think that the “invisible foot” will allow you a three-month honeymoon period [Meaning that the military and other anti-Thaksin foes will continue to hinder and hamper the new government right from the start. A play on the "invisible hand" meaning the CNS and the Privy Councilor who were rumored to be interfering in the formation of a PPP-led government.]

Bottom left to right:
* If you want a guy like “Chaiwat” to step backward (In the box: "The first round of election invalid") [The man is Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a Democrat Party member who filed multiple complaints with the Supreme Court over alleged irregularities in the December 23 election. These complaints had the possibly of leading to a ruling that the December election was invalid.]
* If you think the “eel” keeps his words (On the flag: "Non truth-oriented") [Chat Thai leader Banharn is know as the "eel" because of his slippery ability to change political allegiances and go back on his word.]
* If you think the lady comes back to take care of her children, Oak, Aim and Ung-Ing. [The lady is Thaksin's wife Pojaman who returned to Thailand apparently to mediate in forming a PPP-led government. However, Pojaman claimed she returned only to see her children.]

More on the return of Pojaman - January 14, 2008

Above: "The back foot probes the water." The sign reads "Hot water." The elephant has a square face like Thaksin's face. Women are said to be the "hind legs of the elephant" so the elephant's hind leg represents Thaksin's wife who has recently returned to Thailand to test the political climate. (From Arun, Krungtepturakit, January 11, 2008)

Above: PPP leader Samak says: "Help me... I was bullied..." While Pojaman's shadow looms over the scene. She hold a sack of money. At the bottom it reads "Whose mom comes, whose tears gush!!!" (From Krungtepturakit, January 10, 2008)

Mob rule in Buriram - translated and summarized from Thai Rath, January 7, 2008
The general public may be fooled into perceiving that people in Buriram province are showing a keen interest in political matters. This may be especially the case if some get the idea that the recent demonstration in the province was a genuine attempt by locals to maintain their electoral rights.
It was surprising when thousands of Buriram Province citizens, from various districts, recently gathered at the Provincial Hall. Those gathered were protesting against the recent Electoral Commission decision to award ‘red’ cards to three parliamentary candidates for constituencies in the province. This crowd gathered so quickly that one might be forgiven for thinking that Buriram people have been keeping themselves well abreast of political developments. However, it has since been reported (but not proven) that the protesters received 200 baht per person to turn up at the Provincial Hall demonstration.
The protesters’ insistence that the ‘red’ cards should be withdrawn is, in any case, a true example of mob rule in action - as the demonstrators have made it clear that they will not accept the awarding of such cards under any circumstances.
If Buriram people really long for justice and care about their Kingdom, they should spend more time trying to investigate the corruption in their province  - instead of gathering to support cheats.

More restrictive laws, penalizing political parties - translated and summarized from Thai Rath, January 9, 2007
Regarding the Electoral Commission moves to probe vote-buying allegations that have arisen from the recent general election. Many ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ cards will be awarded to parliamentary candidates of the People Power Party (PPP), if these probes conclude that PPP members have been breaching the electoral laws on vote-buying. This situation has led to a widespread perception that the 2007 Constitution is placing a great deal more emphasis on the penalization of political parties found to have engaged in electoral law breaches. I would like to add that another reason why the PPP is faced with a growing threat of political disbandment is because it is frequently thought to be a proxy of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party - as formerly led by deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

Political developments - translated and summarized from Thai Rath, January 8, 2008
Political reform in Thailand officially began after the 1997 Constitution came into effect in October of that year. After that constitution was ‘torn up’ in 2006, the Interim Constitution and the subsequent 2007 Constitution came in force. Although general elections have been held on four occasions since 1997, it is highly questionable whether Thai politics has moved forward at all in the past ten years.
If we monitor the behavior of politicians and political parties both before and after the December 23 General Election, we see that Thai politics has not changed in the slightest. All political parties still believe that they will ‘starve’ if they are forced to remain in opposition. As such, this means that they constantly trying to be a part of any government that is formed - regardless of any real benefit to the nation.
One political development has arisen in this election, however. Outdated politicians who formed new political parties before the event, in a bid to be a part of the new government, have largely failed to achieve their goals.
The results of the recent general election have done nothing to usher in political reform.
The 2007 Constitution was conceived to create a clean political system, and to reduce the power and influence of money politics. The participation of the public in the election - and their overall verdict - should be respected, however.
The December 23 General Election also led to another new political trend. People are now being urged to gather at protest meetings to pressure the Electoral Commission (EC) into dismissing provincial EC members who have awarded ‘red’ cards to parliamentary candidates. The future of Thai politics is extremely worrisome.

Thai press: "People for tomorrow" - Nation Weekend, December 28, 2007-January 3, 2008

Thai press: "The war is still not finished!" - Siam Weekly, December 28, 2007-January 3, 2008

At bottom left: Lucky Prime Minister [PPP secretary general Surapong Suebwonglee who some tipped to become PM as PPP members consider Samak necessary to fight against the military and win a PPP victory, but not to represent the party as PM.]

Who betrays the people? - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, December 28, 2007
The negotiation between political parties seems to have been finalized. The People Power Party (PPP) sent certain offers to minor parties to persuade them to join its party in a bid to have the power to form the government. The PPP has more chances to form the government than the Democrat Party as it won as many as 233 seats in the recent election. How the coalition government will benefit the people we still do not know. What we know is that some politicians can say one thing and do the other if they are tempted by benefits and money. Thailand is not developing because the people never learn a lesson. They are still deceived by some two-faced politicians.

Happy New Year 2008 - translated and summarized from Krungthep Turakit, January 1, 2008
The year 2008 has begun. Thai politicians missed the new year celebration as they had to negotiate for benefits. The People Power Party is more likely to have the power to form the government than the Democrat Party as it has as many as 233 seats, while the Democrat Party has 165 seats. Thailand’s economy still depends on the political situation. The author believes the new government will focus on alternative energy to deal with energy problems. He suggests that the government highlight education, transportation, and research and development.

A nation must be a real nation - translated and summarized from Krungthep Turakit, December 27, 2007
The interim government does not seem to care much about people’s living over the past five to six months. The inflation rate jumped by three percent during this period, while the global oil price almost hit 100 dollars per barrel. The Surayud administration was initially well-received by most Thai people as it helped reduce political stress. However, most Thais have turned to focusing on their living problems. That is why the People Power Party got the highest number of seats in the general election despite strong opposition against the party. The author wants to see a real nation with a government which has clear administration policies and will restore the people’s confidence.

Selecting ‘upright’ senators - translated and summarized from Matichon, December 29, 2007
A committee is currently looking into the selection of ‘appointed’ senators in advance of a deadline set for this task on January 2. The committee is comprised of the following: The Constitutional Tribunal Chairman, the Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman, the Chairman of the Ombudsman’s Office, the National Counter-Corruption Commission Chairman, the Chairman of the Auditor-General’s Office, a Supreme Court judge and a Supreme Administrative Court judge. After the conclusion of this selection process, the EC will be forwarded a list of suitable individuals from many organizations & walks of life, and will have about one month to examine this list. Some of the 150 senators will be selected by an electoral process, while others will be appointed by the above-mentioned process.
I wish to comment that the process of selecting senators is likely to generate some doubt in the minds of the public, if it is not clearly explained to them. The selection of ‘upright’ senatorial appointees will severely test the abilities of the seven committee members, if they are to conduct the process with both impartiality and fairness. 

EC’s role should be respected - translated and summarized from Thai Rath, January 3, 2007
Regarding the claims of the People Power Party (PPP) that the Electoral Commission (EC) has been attempting to prevent its rise to governmental power through the use of ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ electoral penalty cards. The PPP has announced its plan to form a coalition government with 3 minor political parties, and has also said it will abolish the EC once it is in power. I would like to pinpoint the fact that there were many allegations of vote-buying and other breaches of electoral law both before and during the General Election on December 23. The EC’s roles should be respected, as its mission is to put a stop to political sleaze and to support the nation’s democratic system.

Political problems and political solutions - translated and summarized from Krungtep Turakit, January 2, 2007
With regard to the current speculation on the possibility of the next government being formed by a coalition of the People Power Party (PPP) and 3 minor parties: Ruam Jai Thai/Chart Pattana, Matchimathipatai and Pracharat. I wish to comment that the Electoral Commission’s investigation, of allegations of vote-buying, is likely to cause some grief to the PPP. Another factor to be taken into account is that the PPP and its three allies might experience some hardship, in running the country, if the opposition parties exercise their right to veto their coalition government on its performance [by instigating a ‘No-Confidence’ debate].
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