Apr 14th, 2016

Songkran 2009: Red Shirts overrun ASEAN venue, take govt hostages in Bangkok

Songkran 2009: Red Shirts overrun ASEAN venue, take govt hostages in Bangkok

(Photo: ThaiRath)

ThaiRath‘s amazing photo of the moment the Red Shirts broke into the press room at the Asean Summit.

Songkran 2009: Red Shirt Protests – Night falls on the city

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Corruption should get out


From Komchadluek, April 3, 2016
Man: When will you get off? You make the car get heavier.
On a big man’s shirt: Corruption

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Happy Songkran

(Source: Photo, circa 1920’s)

Above: Traditional image of Songkran – Pouring fragrant water over the hands of the elderly in the rod nam dam hua ceremony.

From Thairath, April 6, 2012
The cartoon title reads: If you cannot get over Thaksin… then some people will be sorrowful and some will be joyful.
On the hooded figure: Objection to Thaksin’s amnesty – Gave an order to suppress people.
On the Thaksin figures: Wanna go home & Love Thaksin
Small Thaksin at bottom left: Give back justice.
Other small Thaksin: Bring the one who kill people to be punished.

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Above: Songkran on Khao Sarn Road

(Photo: Rapee for 2Bangkok.com)

Above: Spectacular images from along Ratchadamneorn Road from Songkran 2005 when the Thai Rak Thai government was promoting Thai holidays for a world audience. After they were ousted, this sort of promotion ceased.

2014: This year’s Songkran goddess
2014: Thaksin’s Songkran message: Let’s forgive and forget
2013: They dared her to take off her clothes
2013: Songkran Cartoons 2013 from Matichon
2011: Topless Dancers at Songkran
All the other Songkran-related articles and cartoons on 2Bangkok

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Afraid of Thaksin’s red bowls


From Thairath, April 1, 2016
Title: Laughing at water bowl… but water bowl ain’t laughing back. [meaning in an ironic way that Songkran is a festival to have fun but soldiers are not having fun at all because they are afraid of the red water bowls from Thaksin]
On big water jar at right: Songkarn 2016
Mouse man: Water bowl… is a national security danger.
Mouse: Feel scared right before Songkarn.

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia, Songkran | Leave a comment

I heard that Uncle Jiew has set up a third force


From Naewna, March 20, 2016
Left: I heard that Uncle Jiew has set up a “Third Force.”
Middle: A man in the picture: ..eh.. Let him go!
Another man: Why?
Left: He used to say he would jump on the ‘Mekong’ river but until now… he still hasn’t.

[Refers to former PM Chavalit Yongchaiyudh who claimed that he set up a “Third Force” consisting of people from various groups aiming to end the conflict in the country. However, his claim was quickly dismissed by the junta.
The cartoonist ridicules Chavalit’s former campaign promise that he would jump into the Mekong River if he could not solve poverty in the Northeastern region.]

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New sword to suppress corruption!


From Nawwna, March 22, 2016
On the sword stuck in the ground: Section 44
Prayuth holds a big sword that reads: 250 Senate selection
Caption: New sword to suppress corruption..!!

[For those who oppose Thaksin, ensuring that the senate is appointed is a way to make sure that Thaksin’s party cannot dominate both houses of parliament and thus change any law it wants.
See Couples’ Parliament for more on the Thai perspective on the senate.]

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Cambodia revives passenger trains after 14 years

Cambodia revives passenger trains – Bangkok Post, April 10, 2016
…Royal Railways is offering the service between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville for nine days to coincide with the Cambodian New Year holidays, with a train leaving the capital at 7am every day until April 16 and another leaving Sihanoukville at the same time from Sunday to April 17.
The trains will make two stops at passenger-ready stations in Takeo and Kampot provinces. A one-way ticket costs $6.
…A six-kilometre section linking Cambodia with Thailand has not been maintained for years. Successive Thai governments have vowed to restore the “missing link” as part of an Asean plan for greater rail connectivity.

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Trump at arm’s length


From Komchadluek, March 28, 2016
[First cartoon of Trump we have seen in the Thai media. It seems to imply Lady Liberty, representing the US, is embarrassed by Trump’s antics.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Komchadluek | Leave a comment

The stubborn buffalo won’t eat!


From Thairath, March 26, 2016
Title: Stubborn buffalo.
On the grass Prayuth hands to the buffalo: Inherit power constitution [meaning the charter is designed to give power to the military]
Prayuth says: Be a good buffalo so that in your next life you will be born human.
Buffalo: [You were] Born a human and made this country to be in trouble… I am better to be born as buffalo than like you!
Mouse man: Do not force the buffalo by giving him grass he doesn’t want to eat.
Mouse: Buffalo has a heart too.

[Refers to an idiom meaning someone refusing something is like a buffalo that refuses food. Here it refers to Thaksin’s Red Shirts who refuse to accept the junta’s military-dominated constitution.
It is interesting to note that in past years “buffaloes” was used derisively to insult Thaksin supporters–implying they are dull and stupid. However, Red Shirts eventually embraced the term themselves and often now depict themselves as buffaloes (as in this cartoon).]

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Overstepping their authority


From Thairath, March 16, 2016
Title: Thai people are in danger today
On the sleeve: Violate human rights
On the man’s shirt: People
Paper on the ground from left to right: Think differently; criticize the government; oppose the power of government
Mouse man: Danger from other Thai people
Mouse: Overstepping [their] authority

[This refers to the increasingly tight junta control on those who protest its actions.]

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Weekly News Magazines, April 1-8, 2016


From Nation Weekend, April 1, 2016
Main cover reads: Tears of chili paste

[The woman on the cover is co-owner of Maepranom chili paste company Pranom Daengsupha.
This refers to a family business conflict between co-owner of the Maepranom chili paste company Pranom Daengsupha and her elder daughter. Pranom alleged her daughter cheated her out of the business and expelled her from the family. The conflict peacefully ended after a talk between her and her daughter conducted by PM’s Office Minister Panadda Diskul.]

Left: A heritage of [yellow] Meechai [white] Constitution version [yellow] ‘Phutthathat [white] Last writing?

[The man in the picture is Meechai Ruchuphan. This refers to the draft constitution written by the Constitution Drafting Committee (CD) headed by Meechai. He claimed that this draft focuses on providing the most benefits to people in accordance with Phuttathat Phikkhu’s teaching. Phuttathat Phikkhu is known as Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, a famous and influential monk. This draft has been criticised by some groups that it is not democratic and it is written to serve the military rather than focusing to returning the democracy to the country.]


From Matichon Weekly, April 1-7, 2016
Main cover (in front of the red X): Referendum done
Background: Draft constitution year….
Bottom right: Constitution Drafting Committee. The Secretariat of the House of Representatives

[This implies that the junta will do all it can to push the draft constitution to be approved. The green color of the lettering refers to the military.]

Top right: Course on attitude adjustment MINI ‘NCPO’ program for the ‘stubborn person’

[The man with a soldier is former member of the Pheu Thai Party Watana Muangsook. Refers to an incident which Watana was detained by soldiers for an “attitude adjustment” because he criticized the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for detaining former Pheu Thai PM Worachai Hema after he criticized the draft constitution.]


From Lokwannee, April 2-8, 2016
Main cover reads: Be a funny man – Shouldn’t be emotionless

[This cover uses the Thai word ‘Khun’ which means both “funny” and a “bowl.” It also refers to PM Prayuth who behaves very aggressively, but also makes jokes during his TV program or when answering the media.
This, coupled with his rude and sometimes threatening bluster (which is not taken seriously in the Thai world, but seen as a symptom of the “big man” syndrome), has led to a somewhat derisive nickname for Prayuth as the “funny PM.” (Compare this to articles in the foreign media that, bereft of such Thai world perspective, interpret Prayuth’s unbecoming bluster as deadly serious and perhaps a sign of being unhinged.)
This cover tries to say that if PM Prayuth is a “funny PM,” he should “khun” (“fun”) and not be afraid of Thaksin’s “red bowls.”
The red bowls were distributed as yet another part of Thaksin initiative this year to remind the electorate that the Pheu Thai Party is synonymous with himself and his family and thus the reforms many of their supporters want.
Recently, soldiers seized a large supply of these red bowls from a former member of Pheu Thai Party which were going to be distributed during the Songkran festival.]


From Manager Weekly, April 2-8, 2016
Main cover reads: Behind a story of [blue] Mae Pranom’s [red] broken mortar

[The woman on the cover is Mae Pranom (“mae” meaning “mother” in Thai). Refers to a family conflict between the co-owner of the Maepranom chili paste company Pranom Daengsupha and her elder daughter. On the cover, the broken mortar refers to an implement used in making chili paste.]

Top: “Baitoey” sweetheart of “Pup Potato” Don’t leave it at the mid of the road.

[The couple is Baitoey and Pup, a singer from Potato (a band). This refers to the story about the Baitoey and Pup. This couple fell in love when Baitoey played Potato’s MV “Leave it in the mid of the road.” This song is about a woman who left her boyfriend because she is in love with a new one who is much better than her old boyfriend.]

Bottom: “Red bowl” [white] hurts a heart. The story of  [yellow] “absurd man” vs. “Paranoid Big”

[In the headline, “absurd man” refers to Thaksin who, for months now, has been attempting to harass the junta and demonstrate that he is still a political force.
“Paranoid Big” refers to the junta that has big powers and has been criticized for being paranoid for seizing Thaksin’s red bowls.]

Posted in Thai Newspapers and Magazines | 1 Comment

How to get off Thaksin’s back


From Post Today, March 14, 2016
On the rope: Senators; Election

[The tiger has Thaksin’s face. Defense Secretary Prawit Wongsuwan and Prime Minister Prayuth are riding the tiger in a reference to the idea that it is difficult to extract themselves from their powerful positions without risking vengeance from Thaksin.
For those who oppose Thaksin, ensuring that the senate is appointed is a way to make sure that Thaksin’s party cannot dominate both houses of parliament and thus change any law it wants.
See Couples’ Parliament for more on the Thai perspective on the senate.]

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12 Years Ago: Thaksin’s Lucky Son Wins Subway Deal

Thaksin’s Lucky Son Wins Subway Deal
This was at the height of the wave of luck that benefited family members and associates of Thaksin. In this case, the existing subway advertising agreement was hastily reconfigured to allow the PM’s son in on the deal.

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The Thai syndrome: We want it free


From Manager, March 24, 2016
Left: On the shop sign: Populist
On sign below: Free dining
Thaksin is the noodle seller. His political initiatives were characterized as populist.

Middle: On the shop sign: Strong Thailand
On sign below: Free dining
Abhisit is the noodle seller. His government attempted to promote political unity with populist spending.

Left: On the shop sign: People’s State
On sign below: Free dining
Prayuth is the noodle seller. The junta also employs populist programs to calm political disputes.

Caption: For a sharp-eyed person… can you find a difference in those three pictures. [as if this is a puzzle where something is changed in otherwise identical images]

[This cartoon illustrates that although each government has a different name for their policies, all are trapped in producing populist programs aimed at political gain.]

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Chakri Memorial Day

(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Above: The Royal Pantheon at Wat Phra Kaew

Chakri Memorial Day

April 6 is Chakri Memorial Day, a national holiday. It marks the date of the founding of the Chakri Dynasty on April 6, 1782 after the death of King Taksin. The Royal Pantheon at Wat Pra Keo has life-size wax figures of all the past kings. Traditionally it was only open on this day, but in past years it has been open on other days as well.

From the Government Public Relations Department: King Rama the First ascended the throne on April 6, 1782, after the death of King Taksin of the Thonburi Kingdom. Appointed as King Taksin’s top warlord, he was formerly called Chao Phraya Chakri. Realizing that Thonburi on the West Bank of the Chao Phraya River would always be threatened by enemy attacks, King Rama the First moved Thailand’ s royal capital from Thonburi to Bangkok on the east side. His reign has been called a “reconstruction” of the Thai state and Thai culture, using Ayutthaya, old capital, as a model.

From Rattanakosin Bicentennial – An Illustrated Book on Historical Events – Kurusapha Business Organization, 1982: In 1918 King Rama VI decided to use a building in the center of Wat Phra Kaew to display statues of previous kings. Originally the building was intended to house the Emerald Buddha, but was judged too small and was later damaged by fire during the Rama V era. The building was restored and renamed Prasat Phra Dhep Bidorn or the Royal Pantheon.
In 1919 King Rama VI declared April 6 of each year as Chakri Day. On that day an official ceremony would be performed in the Royal Pantheon to honor the dynasty.
On either side of the Royal Pantheon building are chedis built by King Rama I to honor his father and his mother. The colorful demons around the base of the chedis are one of the most photographed details of Wat Prae Kaew.

Posted in Thai Holidays and Festivals | 2 Comments

Meechai stripped naked


From Manager, March 23, 2016
Meechai: Can I have my underwear please… Being naked like this, how can I dare to meet people?
Caption: The last hope… of a person who drafts the constitution.

[Refers to Meechai Ruchupan, a head of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC). This cartoon shows a power of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO, the junta) which has steamrolled Meechai’s drafting committee.
Meechai has been pressured from both the public and the NCPO over articles in the charter draft. For example, a fully appointed senate is controversial, but Meechai has had to meekly accede to the junta’s demands that it be part of the charter. Here the lack of his power and authority is portrayed as him being stripped naked and raped by the army.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Manager | 1 Comment

The Junta bulldozes the environment


From Thairath, March 17, 2016
Title: Do it in a special way
On the tractor: Section 44
On boxes (coffins?) at left: EIA after the process; Investor; Build first
The tractor is sweeping papers that read: law; environment; nature conservation
Mouse man: Like to use special methods
Mouse: Fainted [meaning he faints from surprise that Prayuth is not listening to the people before taking action]

[This refers to the extremely controversial use of the junta’s absolute power under Section 44. Recently it has been used to override environmental protection regulations that have been holding up major manufacturing projects in the provinces. These projects often cause severe pollution and are backed by tycoons with the clout to bully local communities in the area. Environmental protection measures have been lauded as a way to ensure local communities are not devastated by slash and burn capitalists.
Activists who have protested these projects and worked for environmental protection regulations are the real left-wing reformers of Thailand (as opposed to the Red Shirts who ultimately serve as political muscle for a single family). Prayuth’s use of Section 44 to green light these projects has the potential to rouse real grassroots ire and disaffection far outside Thaksin’s Red Shirts.
Here Prayuth is shown building a road without listening to complaints. This symbolizes his use of Section 44 to bypass environmental impact reports.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | Leave a comment

The government must help!

From Thairath, March 18, 2016
Left top: Past
Je Kiew: If the government doesn’t help, the transport business will die because of high oil prices and high costs. We can’t survive.
Caption: When the oil price is high
Right top: Present
Je Kiew: If the government doesn’t help, the transport business will die because of the low oil prices and the low cost carriers cut their prices to compete with the buses.
Caption: When the oil price is low.

[The woman is Sujinda Cherdchai, known as Je Kiew. Je is from the Chinese language meaning ‘elder sister.’ She is the owner of the Cherdchai bus company and the president of the Thai Bus Operations Association. Her management style is to call on the government for help to support the bus industry and insist that prices not be cut even when the oil price drops. Many people have complained about the high price of buses and note that planes fare are sometimes cheaper.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Chai | Leave a comment

Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand in the Panama Papers (Thus Far)

Screen Shot 04-05-16 at 08.15 AM

[It appears that, as in other recent cases of leaked documents, the revelations will be doled out over the longest period of time possible to make the most of each scandal. The mention of “21 Thais implicated in global scandal” seems to come from this map.]

‘Panama papers’ leak spells danger for offshore tax havens, world leaders – cnbc.com, April 4, 2016
…Other prominent Asian officials named in the reports included Anuraj Kerjiwal, the former head of Indian political party Lok Sattam, as well as Cambodia’s Minister of Justice…

How the One Percenters Divorce: Offshore Intrigue Plays Hide and Seek with Millions
In Thailand, the firm offered help when a husband asked in an email for a “silver bullet” in case his wife ever tried to strip him of his assets…

Posted in 2Bangkok News | 1 Comment

Converting soldiers to politicians


From Thairath, March 10, 2016
Title: Make yourself more comfortable!
On paper at left: 5-years appointed senator
On paper at bottom: 20-year country strategy
On the man’s suit: Election regime
The man at left is constitution drafter Meechai Ruchuphan
Mouse man: If this makes you happy…
Mouse: He wants to stay longer.

[This shows the constitution drafters replacing the army boots of the military with politician’s dress shoes. This refers to parts of the new constitution that require senators appointed for 5 years along with the junta’s public calls to create a 20-year plan for the country.
All of these plans are meant to play to the Thai political world. They are meant to ensure politicians that there will be no political space for Thaksin to control political parties and engineer his return.
For those wary of a political military–which has dogged Thai politics in previous decades–it portends another long struggle to unseat greedy and self-serving military men from politics at some future date.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | Leave a comment

Weekly News Magazines, March 26-April 1, 2016


From Lokwannee, March 19-25, 2016 [Oddly enough, the date on this issue is incorrect.]
Main cover reads: When a buffalo doesn’t want to eat the grass offered
The buffalo thinks: I’m a buffalo, not Salim.
Another bubble: Try to be good and then you will be born to be a human in the next life.

[This cartoon illustrates that the Red Shirts will not accept the draft constitution, particularly on the issue on appointed senators. The Red Shirts and many anti-junta activists have called on the public to reject the draft constitution since it is not democratic and it will be a tool for extending military power.
The Red Shirts have been called buffaloes to insult them, but have gradually come to embrace the term. On the cover, the grass is the charter that has been dictated by the junta and served to the people.
Those who oppose Thaksin groups are sometimes nicknamed “Salim.” This is a Thai desert that has many colors. They are so-named because they do not have definite or unified political stands and do not support any particular faction. They simply oppose what Thaksin has done and support all the governments except those guided by Thaksin. (Contrast these Thai-world divisions with the international media that insist that the Thai situation is simply caused by the elite wanting to deny the rights of the poor.)
Also on the cover, the bubble starting “Try to be good,” is a phrase that refers to Buddhist lore that says people who do good things can expect to be born into a better station in the next life. Here it seems to imply that the junta is telling the buffaloes that voting yes on the charter is the right thing to do.]

25 mar 2016

From Matichon Weekly, March 25, 2016
Main cover reads: Easily pass Constitution (Camouflage)

[The man is Head of Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) Meechai Ruchuphan.
Refers to the draft constitution which believed to be passed easily due to the junta’s influence. To illustrate this, the cover shows Meechai is holding a green transparent gem meaning that the draft will pass easily.]

Top right: ‘JAS’ Chuan ‘Chuen’? Lost in ‘4G’ trend; Pay 600 million ‘easy’ pay 70 billion more ‘difficult’

[The man in the picture is JAS CEO Pete Bodharamik. This refers to a case of JAS Mobile Broadband defaulting on the final 4G license payment. Due to this, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) could confiscate the guarantee that JAS already gave to the commission in the amount of 645 million baht. JAS had won the 4G license bidding with a bid of 75.654 billion baht. The headline of the article makes fun of them by adding the famous comedian’s family name Chuan Cheun (meaning “happy”). It implies that is is funny that JAS had the high bid, but ultimately could not find the money to pay for it.
This incident was covered breathlessly in the Thai press, with lots of fascination at how this company could have won the bid and now risks losing hundreds of millions of baht already paid by defaulting.]

25 mar

From Nation Weekend, March 25, 2016
Main cover reads: Teacher Nui’s flag [yellow and green colors] Camouflage teacher

[The man on the cover is Gen. Dapong Ratanasuwan, Minister of Education (nicknamed “Nui”). Refers to the use of Section 44 to reform the structure of the Ministry of Education in order to push forward reform plans.]

Left: Shaking Europe. ISIS attack. From Paris to Brussels

[Refers to the latest attack by ISIS in Brussels.]

25-1 april

From Manager Weekly, March 26-April 1, 2016
Main cover reads: National (eastern) tiger [white] Road map to bureaucratic state
The people on the cover: (left) PM Prayuth, (right) Deputy PM Prawit and the groups of main characters in Thai drama named ‘National Tiger’

[Refers to the power of an influential military group known as the Eastern Tigers including PM Prayuth and Deputy PM Prawit. This refers to the junta’s vows to reform the nation. The title of the cover comes from the name of the drama the ‘National Tiger’ which is about the group of people trying to protect the country from foreigners.]

Top: National issue. Social media people call for a return of Beer ‘The voice’ from Cutto

[The woman is Passaranan ‘Beer’ Ussadomangkol. This refers to Passaranan ‘Beer’ Ussadomangkol knows as “Beer the voice.” She is known from the variety show ‘The Voice’ and now is a girlfriend of well-known singer Cutto. After shooting a swimsuit layout for a magazine, many people in the social media made a funny campaign calling for ‘Cutto’ for to return Beer to the public so that others may date her.]

Below: ‘JAS’ drops [pink] 4G [blue] Get more and more advantages

[The man in the picture is JAS CEO Pete Bodharamik. Refers to a case of JAS Mobile Broadband defaulting the 4G license payment (as described above). Although the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) could confiscate the guarantee which JAS placed before the auction worth 645 million baht, JAS is believed to still benefit from its default and its stock price has risen.]

Posted in Thai Newspapers and Magazines | Leave a comment

Building a house upside down


From Thairath, March 24, 2016
Title: A new house builder
On paper held by Meechai: Constitution, Democracy
On his suit: CDC [Constitution Drafting Committee]
On paper held by the soldier: Extend the power
Phi Nooring: You guys build it and then just stay in it yourselves.
A mouse: Don’t accept the constitution!

[Refers to the draft constitution written by the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) led by Meechai Ruchupan. The cartoon shows that while the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) led by the military promised to bring the country back to democracy soon, the reality is the opposite. The cartoonist contends that the draft constitution is the opposite of democracy and people have raised concern that this draft will be a tool to extend the power of the military.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | Leave a comment

No reform of state enterprises


From a roadside sign: State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand
Stop! The holding company draft bill “Improvement on Monitoring and Governing State Enterprise Act of year …” [white] before it causes [red] a catastrophe [white] to the country and the people.

[Refers to the protest against the draft bill “Improvement on Monitoring and Governing State Enterprise Act of year …” which has been approved by the Comptroller General’s Department, Ministry of Finance.
This bill aims to reform state enterprises to be more effective and transparent.
However, many state enterprises and their unions are afraid that this will lead to a privatization of the organizations, something they vigorously resisted during Thaksin’s time a prime minister.
This privatization is feared to be a sale of government (or people’s) assets to foreign interests.]

Posted in Labor, Signs and Billboards, Thai Railroads | 1 Comment

Don’t Sleep on the Tracks! Graphic 1960s train safety posters

Screen Shot 03-23-16 at 12.10 PM

No-holds-barred: Graphic 1960s train safety posters bring back fond memories – coconuts.co, March 22, 2015

Posted in Thai Railroads | Leave a comment

Chinese Dam Buffet


From Arun, from March 23, 2016
Title: Shrimp buffet, Mekong’s water buffet
On a sign: [left] Mekong [yellow]: Mekong river buffet [right] China’s dams
In the yellow circles: [left] Mengsong dam, Ganlanba dam, Dachaoshan dam, Jinghong dam [right] Manwan dam, Gonguoqiao dam, Nuazhadu dam

[The cartoon compares the actions of Chinese tourists at a shrimp buffet with the construction of Chinese dams along the Mekong River. Chinese tourists recently have been criticized after a video surfaced showing tourists using plates as shovels to gather up shrimp at a hotel buffet in Thailand.
Some in the region criticized China from building dams on the Mekong River that impact downstream countries. Those countries have called on China to share the use of the river with others.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons – Arun | Leave a comment

Again, Chavalit

(Chavalit illustration from Matichon Weekly in 2007)

Gen. Chavalit has long been a part of Thaksin’s periodic media initiatives. As both former army commander-in-chief and prime minister, Chavalit’s statements are intended to demonstrate that the military is divided and not universally adverse to Thaksin rule.

Chavalit was part of Thaksin’s media push this year as well, even bringing up the idea of a “third force” under his command that would halt political conflict. In the frame of Thai “big men,” such a plan is meant to evoke the possibility that a man of Chavalit’s influence could unleash a real force to “settle” things once and for all unless those he speaks out against heed his demands.

His current “third force” idea hearkens back to the Red Shirt “People’s Army” he threatened to field in 2010 in the lead up to the Red Shirt siege of Bangkok in that year.

His alliance with the Red Shirts and what that implies for military unity is still strong enough that it triggered an army raid on Red Shirt TV when Chavalit was scheduled to speak.

Ultimately, aging Chavalit is not considered a significant political force anymore nor a good ally for Thaksin. He has a record of repeatedly backing down on his threats and withdrawing from Thaksin’s cause at the first sign of trouble.

Most often political cartoonists of all stripes portray him as a dead dog–meaning he is a spent force of no use anymore. Another cartoonist portrayed him as masochist who loves making big threats and then being humiliated by having to retract them.

Chavalit sets up “Third Force” to end conflict – Bangkok Post, March 13, 2016
…In a move seen to coincide with Thaksin’s political offensive, Gen Chavalit on Feb 24 held a press conference at his residence and called on the NCPO to relinquish power and hold elections to restore democracy this year, instead of 2017. In an open letter, “Big Jiew” accused the military regime of causing more conflict and economic hardship…

Oddly enough, the Nation seems to have purposely misinterpret Chavalit’s very clear pronouncements as a threat to Thaksin instead (Chavalit resurfaces, issues veiled warning to Thaksin).

2014: Chavalit warn junta of counter coup
This is a particularly interesting and illuminating incident for the Thai world. Due to Chavalit’s long association with Thaksin, this incident was initially assumed to be part of the periodic statements on Thaksin’s behalf.
However, it later emerged that Chavalit was willing to posit chaos and strife for the nation merely over a failed attempt to protect a former aide from being declared unusually rich. Something like this is exactly in keeping with the psychology and actions of the Thai “big man.”

Posted in Chavalit Yongchaiyudh | Leave a comment

A little thing called love and care


From a bus-side advertisement
A little thing called love [blue] and [red] care.
[From a campaign to promote the use of condoms.]

Posted in HIV-AIDS, Signs and Billboards | Leave a comment

Money to burn the country


From Naewna, March 9, 2016
Above Thaksin’s bag of money: The world’s richest man ranking has revealed that Thaksin’s income has decreased more than three-billion…
Caption: Better that way, when he has more money he loves to use it to burn the country.

[This refers to the Red Shirt protests in 2010 when Red Shirt leaders threatened arson (not uncommon during Thai political or labor protests). As protest intensified, Shinawatra family members and associated companies withdrew billions of baht from bank accounts.]

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Weekly News Magazines, March 18-25, 2016

18 matichon

From Matichon Weekly, March 18, 2016
Main cover reads: For your acknowledgement

[The man on the cover is Gen. Theerachai Nakvanich.
Refers to the comments on the draft constitution from a group called “the four rivers” consisting of the cabinet, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), submitted to the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC).
The cover implies the comments, signed by Army chief Gen. Theerachai Nakvanich implies that the Constitution Drafting Commission cannot reject the military’s demands.]

Top right: Jiew focuses to hit in the ‘middle.’ Promote ‘third force.’ To end the conflict among two sides?

[The man in the picture is former PM Gen. Chanvalit Yongchaiyudh (nicknamed “Jiew”). He again claimed he has a ‘third force’ comprised of millions of people from various groups aiming to end the conflicts between the military and Thaksin. Since he has a close ties with Thaksin, his alleged political movement is looked upon with skepticism.]

18 nation

From Nation Weekend, March 18, 2016
Main cover reads: Seniority system

[The man on the cover is Deputy PM Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan. He is a respected senior member of the ‘Eastern Tigers’ that includes PM Prayut. Prawit has emerged as perhaps the most powerful personality in the government.]

Left: The military moves forward [yellow] break the referendum [white] fight with anti-group

[Refers to the attempt to pass the draft constitution which has been opposed by many groups.]

19-25 mar

From Manager Weekly, March 19-25, 2016
Main cover reads: Woman: You can’t secretly put something inside the constitution.
Man: But you can’t dissatisfy me like this.

[This conversation mimics a famous conversation from the TV drama “Diary of Tootsies.” It refers to the draft constitution which has been written to serve the military and junta’s interests. The woman represents people who are against the draft constitution while the man has the role of the military and junta. The woman is Pattarasaya ‘Peak’ Kreursawansiri and the man is Thongchai ‘Ping-pong’ Tongkantoom]

Top: Step on other’s heads or it’s her day. [white] 2 different views [red] ‘Mai-Choompoo’

[The woman on the left is Davika Hoorne or Mai while on the right is Araya A. Hargate or Choompoo.
Refers to the conflict between new rising star Mai and famous actress Choompoo. Mai is accused on trying to steal advertisement contracts from Choompoo and copy Choompoo’s career path. Some say Mai become a presenter for because she is very popular and is not stealing anyone’s job. To step on other’s heads is a Thai proverb meaning that someone who does anything, even destroy others, to make themselves look better.]


From Lokwannee, March 19-25, 2016
Main cover reads: Accept–not accept It’s the right! Don’t violate the law!

[This cover insists on the rights of people to accept or reject the draft constitution. It contends that the junta cannot force people to accept it and people should be free to express their comments toward the draft (instead of being silenced by the military).
This appears to be the strategy for those who oppose the draft charter going forward. Red Shirt leaders and Pheu Thai politicians have stated that, if the draft is voted down, the military itself must cede power as they have failed.
What is the meaning of the leaning tower of Pisa here?]

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Junta succeeds where Thaksin failed: Mahakan Fort community facing final days

An alley in the area in 2003

The area behind the city wall by Mahakan Fort is to be turned into a “tourist park” (like Santichaiprakarn Park) which would involve the relocation of a community of people living in old wooden houses and shanties on the site. Activists have countered with proposals to use part of the land which is already unoccupied for a park and allow the residents to stay.

Originally proposed in the early 1990s, the plans first came to a head when Thaksin was prime minister and began aggressively pushing long-stalled redevelopment schemes around the city. The push to remove the community lost steam amid the political turmoil of 2006 that unseated Thaksin.

Old postcard, Bangkok (Siam), View looking North, unknown date. The Mahakan Fort community is in the foreground.

In 2015, the junta pushed its own law and order campaign that has proved popular with the public, particularity the clearance of picturesque, but obtrusive markets, like the flower market near the Chao Phraya River. Previously such projects were impossible to implement due to reticence from the Thai police who had no interest in enforcing regulations. With the military in power, the BMA used the opportunity to push the Mahakan Fort community clearance project again and looks likely to finally succeed in the face of the army’s public order drive.

Seeing history as it fades – The Nation, March 28, 2016
…The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has plans to turn Mahakan Fort – which 200 years ago protected the capital from threats across the river – into a canal-side historical park. The community nestled alongside the walls is about to be dispersed forever.
Outsiders might see the community as a crowded, dilapidated slum, another eyesore on the city map. That’s what the BMA sees as well. Looking deeper, though, there’s a lively heart amid the cracked wood of the classic Siamese houses erected a century ago. History is already much in evidence without the need for refurbishing and preservation…

(Source: Siam, Volume 2 – 1938)

Above: The caption to this photo reads: “Aerial views of Bangkok as seen from the Golden Mount Pukow Thong of Wat Sraket.” The Mahakan Fort community is in the foreground.

Community handed eviction notice – The Nation, March 29, 2016
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) yesterday posted an eviction notice informing residents of the century-old Mahakan Fort community that they must vacate the area by April 30…

Plan for ‘old quarter’ should be revived – The Nation, March 28, 2016
…What do you think about the plan by City Hall to turn the Mahakan area into a public park?
It is out of the question. Academics and experts came to the conclusion that the designated area, which is enclosed by towering city walls, is not appropriate as a park. (Many have raised concern that without the community, the planned park would be an isolated area susceptible to crime.) Not a typical public park in what is perceived by society. Therefore kicking out the community for the park is not quite right…

Mahakan eviction still looms large – The Nation, March 19, 2016
…“The area should be developed as a tourist attraction, not a living community,” Pol Gen Asawin said, accusing the locals of occupying public space which is reserved as a national heritage site. “The space would be a source of income for the state…”

2003: A walk through the Mahakan Fort Community
2005: Inside Fort Mahakan
2008: Removing the Mahakan Fort Community Main Page
2008: A mirror for Thai national politics: The curious case of Pom Mahakan
2010: Amnesty International: Mahakan Fort News
2011: Recent Views of the Mahakan Fort Community

(Photo: Wally Higgins)

“View west from the Golden Mount – 2-21-1961” 7
This photo contains the clearest view of the Mahakan Fort community houses we have seen in a vintage photo. Also note the plywood curing on a rooftop at the bottom of the photo. This is the lumber district that still exists around the western and northern base of the Golden Mount.

Old postcard views: Looking North from Golden Mount
Old postcard views: “Birds Eye View of Bangkok”
Old postcard views: Mahakan Fort
1938 (towards the bottom of the page): View of Fort Mahakan community
1961: View of Fort Mahakan community

Also in the area: Remembering Chalerm Thai Theater
Related: The Missing House

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