Thai Media Project – February 2008

Baby - Arun, Krungtepturakit, February 26, 2008
Left top (the very small letters): Get better soon
Right top: Grow up, grow up
On the blanket it says: Goods prices
[Commerce Minister Mingkwan, who fainted during a recent speech, is dressed as a hill person carrying a doll on his back representing the inflated food prices that are a political issue now.]

Touchdown - Arun, Krungtepturakit, February 29, 2008
Left: Just the first step
In the water it reads: Current

Thaksin regime - Krungtepturakit, February 29, 2008
The letters on the tree read: Thaksin regime

"Chalerm's Angles" - Krungtepturakit, February 13, 2008
Chalerm's Angles: Special Edition "The birth of Ongkuleemarn"
Left: We are back.
Middle: Returning bigger than the past.
Right: Do you know who my father is? [During confrontations, the Yoobamrung brothers where reported to threaten people by saying "Do you know who my father is?" Their father is powerful and outspoken politician Chalerm Yoobamrung.]

[In the Thai-language world, the attempt to appoint the rambunctious and sometimes violent Yoobamrung brothers to ministerial aide roles in the new government is being defended with a comparison to Ongkuleemarn. Ongkuleemarn is a bad man in Buddhist lore who was told he could again immortality by cutting off the fingers of 100 people and wearing them as a necklace (the finger necklaces can be seen in the cartoon). The last finger to be cut off was from the Buddha himself. When it came time to cut the Buddha's finger, the Buddha prayed for the man and instructed him. This changed the man's heart and he reformed. So the comparison is that Wan Yoobamrung should be considered a reformed man despite his checked past. Not sure the significance of "Angles" instead of "Angels." Perhaps it is just a misspelling (?)]

Earlier: Putting pub brawls behind to become a ministerial aide - The Nation, February 9, 2008
Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsap Chaovarat Chanweerakul on Monday defended a decision to appoint a bully son of the Interior Minister as an aide in his ministry.
..."In the past, society saw this boy in a scary way but I see him as a well-mannered and polite boy," Chaiya said...

Earlier: Cabinet puts on hold controversial candidates for ministerial job - The Nation, February 11, 2008
..."About half of candidates nominated by the People Power Party are deemed inappropriate for the job," he said, though evading to comment on the qualifications of Wan Yoobamrung, son of Interior Minister Chalerm...

Don’t always use a majority viewpoint to judge things! - translated and summarized from Thai Rath, February 23, 2008 
Several Members of Parliament from the Democrat Party have expressed disapproval after Chalerm Yoobamrung - the Minister of the Interior - recently answered media questions about his policy to eliminate drug abuse. Chalerm announced that he would reapply the strict measures that were formerly used during the Thaksin administration, even if it leads to the deaths of 4,000 people.
These strict measures that Chalerm is proposing to employ again, were not carried out with regard to normal legal procedures during the Thaksin era. Statistics released by the Royal Thai Police show that in the case of 2,596 people who died during the previous implementation of these measures, only 1,164 were known to have been involved in the illegal drugs trade - while another 1,432 had no known connection to the trade.
A policy to eliminate illegal drug use is a good thing, and deserves admiration. The measures must be strictly implemented according to the letter of the law, however.

Naked in jail - Matichon Weekly, February 22-28, 2008
The headline reads: Revealing life, naked in jail - Jakrapob Penkhae

The article features Jakrapob's interview about his life in jail last year. According to the story, Jakrapob says he was not upset during his eleven days in jail as it was what he chose. If he could turn back time, he would do the same thing which brought him to jail.

Force -Arun, Arun, Krungtepturakit, February 13, 2008
On the boat it reads: Economic team
The caption reads: Two forces of rowing [Surapong and Mingkhwan] and one force of wind [Thaksin's face on the sail]

Government TV - Arun, Krungtepturakit, February 12, 2008
It reads: War of seizing a remote control. On the TV screen are letters symbolizing government media

A related editorial from The Nation: Govt-backed 'independent' TV: get real!

Populism - Krungtepturakit, February 12, 2008
Minister of Finance Surapong Suebwonglee holds a giant syringe and says: Must give one injection to stimulate the heart... and it will be look good.
On syringe and other items it reads: Populism
Bottom left reads: Beautiful by doctor [This is a way to say "cosmetic surgery

Small children - Arun, Kurngtepturakit, February 5, 2008
On the backpack: Dek Chai Apisit [Dek chai = is a male child. Apisit is the youthful head of the Democrat Party] On the hat: Head of the room.
On the bus: Small children vehicle
The person leaning out the window is Prachai. He holds a bag that reads: Dek chai Prachai He says: Stop, stop. Pick up one more of my friends.
We are not sure of the meaning here, other than to link youthful Apisit, who lost out in the last election, with former Machimathipathai leader Prachai Liewpairat who also ended up out of the government and who has been called the baby politician.

Covers of weekly news mags - February 13, 2008

Left: Nation Weekend - Overlook "Ugly" [a reference to the ugly cabinet, so-called because of the unqualified proxies in top posts]
Peddle to ask the favor of "God" [Not sure, but possibly a reference to the need of cabinet members to receive their instructions from Thaksin(?)]

Right: Matichon Weekly - Who R U? Santi Prompat
Santi Prompat, new head of one of the most "valuable" Thai ministries--Transport--apparently has no other qualification that he has managed a construction company. His real qualification is that he was an advisor to the transport minister in the last Thai Rak Thai government, Pongsak Raktapongpaisal. This likely indicates that Pongsak is really running the transport ministry policy. It is thought that the Santi appointment was one of the "ugly" nominations initially opposed by PM Samak who wanted one of his own allies in the post.

Lust in the library - February 4, 2008

Interesting example of sensational "moral" front page news exposing the wantonness of modern youth.

Thai Rath (right): A clear shot - Two university students are seen making out on the second floor of Nakhon Si Thammarat public library. Previously, a lot of couples are seen making out there.

Daily News (below): Making out - A news reporter snapped a shot of two university students making out at Nakhon Si Thammarat public library. However, the head librarian said she has seen some couples hugging each other there, but never seen them making out as reported.

Rose Apple guy - Matichon Weekly, February 2, 2008

The headline reads: Amazing Samak 

On the bottom left of the cover, a cartoon character holds a sign that reads (right): Who says miracles do not happen? 

Don’t overestimate yourself! - translated and summarized from Matichon, February 1, 2008
The recent meeting of military leaders, during a time when politicians were busily trying to form a new government, can only be interpreted as indicating that the Council for National Security is still essentially against the incoming Samak administration. Some people, however, are trying to project this issue in a more optimistic light. There is a groundswell of opinion that military leaders are only human in their desire to let the new Samak Government know their concerns over a power-shift away from them.
The military and the government have different roles in this nation, and it will require a person who possesses considerable skill to manage the shifting relationship between the two. Both sides must be aware of their mortal status in Thai society, and learn to exercise their powers in a careful and responsible manner. It should be borne in mind, however, that the downturn in the fortunes of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra began at a time when he became interested in removing some of the powers of Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin and other leading military generals.
The new government will need to make a clear decision over who will assume the post of Defense Minister, if it wishes to promote a more positive relationship between itself and the military. This new government needs to act quickly to demonstrate its own moral integrity, and to show that it does not intend to take advantage of those who have opposed it in the past. 

Say goodbye to the ‘Old Ginger’ government - translated and summarized from Matichon, February 2, 2008
The Surayud Chulanont Government has already passed over the reins of power to a new administration. The newly-appointed Prime Minister is Samak Sundaravej, the leader of the People Power Party. Some members of the Surayud Government, however, may not be relishing the relinquishment of their posts - while others will feel relieved at the removal of a burden from their shoulders.
If we were to review the military-appointed Surayud administration in an entirely positive and rather uncritical light, we would mention that his sixteen-month government worked hard to explain the reasons for the military coup to the rest of the world. We would also say that his administration tried hard to ease such major problems as the downturn in the economy, the southern unrest and the increasing disunity among Thais.
Considered in a more critical light, however, the Surayud Government failed to pass the exam. During its sixteen-month tenure, it was hardly able to initiate any truly proactive approaches in managing the country’s affairs. Indeed, several ministers were driven to resign their posts through their perception of the inefficiency of the ‘Old Ginger’ administration.

"23+2 Prime Minister" - Nation Weekly, February, 2008

The headline reads "The 23+2 Prime Minister"

The figure, holding a cooking implement to represent PM Samak, wears a Chinese-style Thaksin mask.
Thaksin was the 23rd Prime Minster and Samak is the 25th Prime Minister. Since Thaksin is thought to be the read power behind the new government and the new PM, the headline dubs the new PM to be the 23 + 2 PM.

Baby politician - February 7, 2008

This cartoon from Nation Weekly shows former Machimathipathai leader Prachai Liewpairat, who was labeled "juvenile" by Sanoh Thienthong and suffered through a series of emotional scandals in 2007.

Nurse as Deputy Finance Minister - Na Ban Bangkae by Buncha/ Kamin, Manager, February 5, 2008
Left: Samak says: I can't stand how we have a nurse to be the Deputy Finance Minister.
Right: Why? How about a cooking teacher being the PM?
This cartoon pokes fun at the nominee nature of the government with unsuitable figures holding positions only because they are standing in for banned TRT politicians.
In the left panel, Samak complains about Ranongrak Suwanchawee, whose experience is in the nursing profession, being appointed as Deputy Finance Minister. Suwanchawee was no doubt appointed because she is the wife of banned Thai Rak Thai executive Pairote Suwanchawee.
In the right panel it is pointed out that Samak, who has his own cooking show, is now PM.

Samak mightn’t have an easy path, possibly lose power during May-September - translated and summarized from Thai Insider, January 29, 2008
According to Bunlert Pairin, a well-known fortune teller, the new prime minister Samak Sundaravej is expected to have ill fortune during May 7-September 16, 2008. He might lose his post during the period. The premier recently visited Phrakrun Palad Sopit Chotikul, a senior monk of Wat Arun Rajavararam. The monk wished him good luck with a blow on the new premier’s head. The monk said Samak is sincere and is kind to people, no matter they are rich or poor.

When Defense is under Samak’s control, peace will be kept safe and sound in drawer - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, February 1, 2008
It is very likely that the new Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej will be appointed Defense Minister. A peaceful relationship between the old power clique and the armed forces is expected to stumble if the premier takes the helm of the Ministry of Defense. His harsh personality will do no good to the relationship. The columnist is confident that the appointment follows an order of a certain person staying abroad. Defense Minister General Boonrawd Samatas worries that the new defense minister will not understand the military forces and intervene in the forces. Rumor has it that General Sonthi Boonyaratglin will be named Defense Minister in the next three months.

"Frightening!" - Matichon by Son, February 4, 2008
Government leaders race off a cliff in a pickup truck (the truck makes the sounds "bruen!"). Above it reads "Frightening!"

Early work of new government will soon establish its longer-term popularity - translated and summarized from Krungtep Turakit, January 31, 2008
The price of cooking oil has now reached the price of one hundred baht for two 1-liter bottles - a price hike that has brought about  a significant increase in the cost-of-living for the average citizen. The Commerce Ministry recently approved  a four baht price rise for soya bean oil to 49.50 baht per 1-liter bottle, with this hike adding to the discomfort already caused by previous recent increases in the price of palm oil.
The price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will also soon increase, by three to four baht for a 15 Kg. gas bottle.
These skyrocketing cost-of-living increases are not balanced by any commensurate increases in people’s basic incomes. Such increases should be an indicator to the new government - led by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej - that it urgently needs to solve the nation’s current economic problems. This will be an early challenge to the new administration - through which it will have an opportunity to demonstrate its mettle. The private sector is waiting to see what this new government intends to do to stimulate the economy, boost consumer spending and restore investor confidence.

Thailand and Laos working on cross border service - translated and summarized by Wisarut from Post Today, February 2, 2008
Governor of Nong Khai and SRT are making a discussion with Lao Railways Authority about the cross border railway services between Nong Khai and Tha Nalaeng (3.5 km). Now, SRT has sent the equipment for railway traffic as well as the level crossing equipment. They hope that cross border traffic will be open by May 1, 2008.
The cross border service will be the extension of Express 69 which reaches Nong Khai at about 9:00 AM and it will depart from Nong Khai at 9:10 AM and it will reach Tha Nalaeng at 10:10. It will depart as Express 70 from Tha Nalaeng back to Nong Khai at 11:10 AM and may wait for 7 hours to depart from Nong Khai to Bangkok. Immigration Process will be done within 20 minutes.
The draft of the cross border treaty will be done in the next two weeks using the cross border treaty between SRT and KTMB as a model for the cross border treaty between SRT and LRA (Lao Railways Authority).

PM Samak has two choices: to be a good leader or a mere puppet - translated and summarized from Krungtep Turakit, January 28, 2008
Samak Sundaravej is expected to win a parliamentary voting session on January 28 to select the country’s new prime minister. Samak’s political career has spanned more than three decades. He was a Democrat MP of Bangkok, an interior minister, a party leader, a prime minister, and a Bangkok governor. Samak missed the chance to be Senate chief in 2006 as the military junta staged a coup in September that year. He was later persuaded to lead the People Power Party by the previous prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The columnist said it is a good opportunity for Samak to be an incorruptible prime minister and devote himself for the Kingdom. Otherwise, he would be a mere puppet for the previous premier. Actually, Samak himself once said that he was a “nominee” for Thaksin. If he chooses to be just a “nominee” and focus on personal benefits, he will surely be cursed by the whole country.  

Government must assign jobs to the right people - translated and summarized from Krungtep Turakit, February 13, 2008
The Samak 1 administration has put together its policies, and is preparing to announce them to Parliament. The new government says that these policies will help the general public, stimulate the economy and ease the unrest in the three southernmost provinces. It also says it will proceed with a number of transportation and waterworks mega-projects, in the belief that such policies will help to expand the economy. A large budget will also be allocated to boost the country’s ‘grassroots’ economy.
These policies should be closely monitored, as their success is all-important to the country’s future. Some will agree with these policies, and some will not. The most interesting aspect of these policies is, however, their populist element  - which some believe could spell trouble for the future of this country.
For the time being, however, we must let the government carry out these policies, in order to see whether they lead to good or bad results. Nonetheless, it will be essential that this government listens to the opinions of the opposition.

Giveaways and discounts offered again - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, February 10, 2008
The new Cabinet has indicated that it intends to work for the benefit of the country as a whole, with all of its ministers having put together policies that aim to please both government officials and the general public.
The Public Health Minister has announced a raise in the basic salary of the government officials it employs, but has not expressed any intention to improve his ministry or to stem the spread of bird flu.
The Finance Ministry has also revived the populist policies of the past, by allocating thousands of billions of baht to projects that will increase its popularity with the poor - and help to revive their hopes.
The new government plans to boost the economy by spending money in a way that will increase consumer purchasing power; but such policies could have a negative impact, and waste the expenditure of a government that is already working on a tight budget.
This administration has no ministers who are particularly experienced in economic management, so it will be forced to heed the advice of outside economic experts and gurus.

Colors of the new cabinet - translated and summarized from Thai Rath, February 11, 2008
When compared to the former ‘Old Ginger’ government, the new administration seems to be more highly-motivated - with its revival of populist policies such as the Ua Arthorn low-cost housing project
The new Minister of Foreign Affairs began his term with a speech that touched on his initial diplomatic engagements and the return of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He might well have forgotten that he is supposed to be a representative of all Thai people, rather than just a Thaksin spokesman. Meanwhile, the Public Health Minister commenced the first day of his term with the announcement that compulsory licensing [of pharmaceuticals] was to be reviewed.
The Finance Minister has already hinted that the 30% Reserve Policy will be scrapped, while the Education Minister has indicated that he will revive the Student Loan Program.
The Interior Minister has vowed he will eliminate the widespread availability of illegal drugs. He might wish to remind himself, however, that his position no longer possesses quite the same power it once had.
In conclusion: Many new ministers have shown their willingness to engage in productive work. To be successful in their endeavors, and to build public trust, they would be wise to mull over the thoughts contained in his HM the King’s recent speech - as spoken to them on the occasion of their being sworn in.

1% change - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, February 22, 2008
The Cabinet - led by the People Power Party (PPP) under Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej - has completed its heavily-criticized appointment of a cabinet-support team, comprised of ministerial secretaries and cabinet advisors. Prime Minister Samak (also the PPP Leader) had earlier voiced his own strong doubts about the suitability and qualifications of those nominated for positions in the cabinet-support team. His comments could be interpreted as merely an effort to keep his own image clean, however. Indeed, his own criticisms do seem to have been largely fruitless. Only 1% of the proposed appointments were changed after the PM made his remarks. I would like to comment that this PPP-led Cabinet has now demonstrated that it is prepared to completely ignore public sentiment.

Don’t twist the history of the 1976 October 6 Massacre! - translated and summarized from Matichon, February 21, 2008
There has been no retraction by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of his claim in a recent CNN interview that only one person was killed in the October 6 Massacre of 1976. On February 18, the Prime Minister spoke to Parliament in an attempt to clarify his position, but he still continues to insist to the media that he took no part in the massacre.
The Leader of the Democrat Party - Abhisit Vejjajiva - and the Chairman of the Democrat Party’s Advisory Council - Chuan Leekphai - have both expressed their disapproval of Samak’s comments. A debate between the two opposing sides of the issue was also broadcast on TV Channel 11 recently.
Our history should not be revised for political purposes. There is clear evidence from both photographic and moving images that a large number of people were tortured and murdered in the Massacre.

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