From Naewna, April 22, 2015
Left: Dead dog 1: I think the bombing in Samui is not related to Big Jiew. [refers to former Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh whose nickname is “Jiew”]
Dead dog 2: Why?
Right: Because he jumped into the Mekong River since he couldn’t solve the poverty problem in Isan.
On the sign: Mekong river
Gen. Chavalit is the only major Thai military figure who speaks up for Thaksin. His experience as both a former commander-in-chief and prime minister makes his pronouncements consequential.
His involvement is meant to demonstrate that there is rift in the military regarding support for the coup and support for Thaksin. Such a rift is what Red Shirts have long claimed, particularly as they staged protests in Bangkok in 2009 and 2010.
From leading a Red Shirt “People’s Army” against the Thai military to his brief support of reconciliation efforts, he has repeatedly flip flopped on his support for Thaksin and the Red Shirts, making him a frequent target of ridicule in the Thai-language media.
Due to his sympathies towards both Thaksin and the Red Shirts, Gen. Chavalit has long been suspected (and sometimes unfairly blamed) of carrying out attacks on behalf of Thaksin’s political goals, from the Bangkok New Year’s bombings in 2006 to the recent Samui car bomb.
In the 1990s he was lionized by the international press as a laudable example of the future of Thai politics. Unlike previous Thai generals who entered politics through coups, Chavalit was one Thai commander-in-chief who became prime minister by leading a political party and winning an election. Unfortunately, his ineptitude in managing the economy sparked the baht collapse of 1997 and the ensuing worldwide financial panic.
Above: Chavalit and the Red Shirts
Chavalit once famously boasted that he could “blow a whistle” and the country would be in flames, giving voice to the threat that he could rouse rural supporters to pour into Bangkok and create havoc. This is not an uncommon Thai threat and has been voiced by a range of politicians from Thaksin Shinawatra to Suthep Thaugsuban.
Chavalit was recently accused of being behind the car bomb attack in Samui–not only because he is one of the “usual suspects” for bombings, but because he supposedly had a meeting with insurgents in the Thai Deep South. His aides denied this report which spread through social media.
His promised recent appearance on the Red Shirt “Peace TV” station is thought to be a possible reason the junta revoked the station’s license. This is because, whether or not Chavalit was behind the recent bombings, he is a potent symbol to Red Shirts as he demonstrates that, just as their dogma states, the military is deeply divided and is in large part loyal to Thaksin.
The Naewna cartoon (at top) ridicules 82-year-old Chavalit’s effectiveness, comparing him to a dead floating dog in a river (this is a Thai saying to indicate a powerless, useless thing).
The cartoonist ridicules the threat of Chavalit and his bombings and says his influence is already dead. Floating in the river refers to a time when Chavalit was prime minister and he vowed to solve poverty in the Northeast region (known as Isan) or he would jump into the Mekong river.