May 9th, 2020

Feeling pity for Thai people

From Thairath, April 28, 2020
Left board: Deaths from Covid.
Right board: Deaths from the consequences of Covid.
On hooded figure’s cloak: No money, no food, no jobs.
Mouse: Feeling pity for Thai people.
Mouse man: 2020 death’s ambassador.

[This is another opposition cartoon criticizing the government for not taking care of the welfare of people during the pandemic.]

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Real social distancing

From Arun, May 6, 2020
[Another simple and brilliant cartoon from Arun expressing the sentiment that the pandemic has starkly exposed the inequities in Thailand.]

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Don’t accuse

From Thairath, April 15, 2020
Title: COVID-19 face mask
COVID-19 man: Don’t criticize the government otherwise you will be charged to be in the prison; Charges on disclosing of face mask hoarding; Disclosing corruption; Post online to criticize the government
Paper held by a man with glasses: Disclose a person behind the hoarding plus deduct the commission for face mask
Phi Nooring: Not allowing people to disclose the truth.
Mouse: Very fierce.

[Refers to the situations when people posted online trying to disclose information about the hoarding of face masks involving government officers. Recently, a social media influencer known as the “Queen of Spades,” disclosed information about the hoarding of face masks and faced a swift response from the police, accusing them of violating the Computer Crime Act.]

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No health and no freedom

From Thairath, April 11, 2020
Title: They don’t have good health and freedom
On a man’s shirt: Unemployed
Paper on the left: How do we feed our family?
Paper on the right: No income and don’t receive assistance
Above the COVID-19 virus: Cause a state of emergency; Cause unemployment; Cause a closure of shops; Cause a curfew; Cause people to have no income
Phi Nooring: How can Thai people come to this circumstance?
Mouse: Will starve to death

[This is part of a series of cartoons that criticizes the government for its handling of the pandemic–particularly the economic hardships that many are facing and the lack of assistance to many workers.]

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Listen to the experts, not the opposition

From Manager, April 30, 2020
Opposition party: Lift the lockdown. End the emergency act now.
Caption: Kick bad people… and listen to the good ones
On the graphic behind: COVID-19 center

[Refers to Thai proverb “Associating with the bad person leads to the wrong direction while associating the the good one leads to good thing” meaning that you are who you associate with.
In relation to the cartoon, it implies that PM Prayuth is listening to advice and suggestions from professionals and long-experienced doctors rather than the opposition parties who are trying to score political points by calling for an end to the lockdown.]

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Not an easy discount

From Manager, April 23, 2020
Left sign: Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.
Right sign: Mcdonald’s.
Sign in McDonald’s window: 50% off discount on every item!!!
Caption: Giving a discount in an easy way… is not me.

[After many people staying home during the lockdown were shocked by high electric bills, the government announced what seemed to be a simple discount to help people during this time.
However, once people tried to calculate the discount, it was found the formula was more complicated than it seemed from the government announcement.]

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Not afraid of COVID… Afraid of being hungry

From Thairath, April 22, 2020
Title: Not afraid of COVID… Afraid of being hungry
Food seller: Fighting with you guys is better than do nothing and waiting to starve.
On her apron: Didn’t receive fund assistance.
On coin bags at top right: Working; Selling; Income
On paper held by PM Prayuth: Ease the lockdown
Phi Nooring: Don’t adhere to fate.
Mouse: Wants to work for living

[The lockdown has increasingly become a point of contention in several countries as people grow eager to get back to work. The pandemic has also been used by opposition groups to agitate against their political enemies. Here, an opposition cartoonist criticizes the government for not helping informal workers who have no money due to the lockdown.]

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Uphill battles

From Daily news, April 14, 2020
Above the line: Economy

From Matichon, April 15, 2020

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The virus is the dictator

From Manager, April 7, 2020
Left caption: This dictator says… feisty [meaning the opposition figure is speaking energetically to criticize the government for banning gatherings of people during a time when the opposition had planned to stage mass protests]
Opposition figure: Not true!!… We can have both freedom and health… Do not believe him!!
Right caption: This dictator says… saddens
Virus: You can only choose one… freedom or health… you choose!!!
[In March, the opposition accused the government of needlessly cracking down on public gatherings under the pretense of preventing the spread of the covbid-19 virus.
This cartoonist mocks that viewpoint as the realities of the pandemic became clearer.]

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Why would the military buy?

From Thairath, April 9, 2020
Caption: Disease’s war.
Mouse: Do they fight Covid-19? [meaning, “does the big military spending projects help fight the pandemic?”]
Mouse man: Surgical masks are better off [to purchase instead of more military supplies]

[This refers to the big military spending projects in the time of economic hardship during the pandemic. The military later backed down and put its purchases on hold.]

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The opposition supports the government?

From Naewna, April 8, 2020
MP from the opposition parties: We, the revenge group, agree with the government’s 1.9 trillion bailout, but you have to use it properly.
PM Prayut: I’m crying.
Caption: The ivories are growing.

[We do not quite get the point of the tusks and who is the man?
Last month, the leaders of the Future Forward Party vowed to resist the party’s disbanding with further street protests and harshly criticized the government for its handling of the pandemic.
However, the Pheu Thai eventually vowed cooperation with the government to combat the pandemic. Such statements of cooperation are extremely rare in Thailand’s polarized political system. Indeed, as the cartoonist suggests, over the last 20 years Thai politics has revolved around the desire for revenge and for absolute control.
This cartoon swaps the words ค้าน (opposition) and แค้น (revenge) to suggest that it is unlikely that opposition parties, that have publicly and repeatedly vowed to expel the PM from office and rewrite the charter, have sincerely decided to support government efforts to fight the pandemic.
We think the PM is crying because opposition groups customarily oppose all the activities of the government.]

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Songkran cartoon 2020

From Matichon, April 13, 2020
Flag on the left: Year of the Rat
Flag on the right: Songkran 2563 (A.D.2020)

[Songkran festival or Thai New Year would have been held April 13-15, 2020, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
It is the year of the rat according to Chinese year naming conventions. Also, according to a traditional Thai belief, the new year is represented by a specific Songkran lady riding a different animal along with other particular details. This cartoon shows Songkran ladies carrying hand sanitizer.
In the past, every printed newspaper had its own special Songkran cartoon, drawn by their own political cartoonist, and featured on the front page of the paper at the beginning of the Songkran festival.
However, due to the closure of so many newspapers, this tradition has almost ceased.]

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Trump won’t help Thanathorn

From Manager, April 9, 2020
Thanathorn: Yeah! Trump is sending troops to help build democracy following my request!!
Trump: Not like that, Thorn. I come here to steal the doctors and masks as well as ventilators to help the American people.
Caption: He will come… for only one reason.

[In late March, the recently disbanded Future Forward Party began ramping up for mass protests against the government. The goals were the same as earlier protests going back 15 years–immediate resignation of the sitting government and a wholesale rewrite of the constitution.
Also similar was the overseas lobbying and the need to get the message out in English. In the past weeks, a number of foreign media news items highlighted claims that the government was facing massive opposition and it was a critical time for them.
The cartoonist mocks what he contends is the wishful thinking of the opposition and instead makes a joke about a widely circulated claim that the U.S. was stealing away vital supplies from Thailand to use in their own country. This claim was underpinned by the news reports that, when U.S. officials met with their Thai counterparts to ask for shipments of masks and other items to deal with the pandemic, Thais instead told them that they had been receiving shipments of these items from the U.S.]

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People are more afraid of starving to death than of covid

From Naewna, April 18, 2020
Phea Thai chief Sudarat: End the country’s lock down. People are more afraid of starving to death than of covid….
Caption: Khun Ying Sudarat is losing her senses of smell. Uncle Tu helps check her whether she contract the covid virus or not.

[This mocks opposition attempting to use the pandemic to attack the government.]

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Cockroaches are eating the eggs and masks

From Manager, April 1, 2020
PM Prayuth: This building has a lot of cockroaches… If we leave them here, they will be eaten. [the cartoonist means that the Democrat Party, referred to as “cockroaches” in the media for their ability to survive and thrive even in factious political times, is mismanaging–perhaps even misappropriating–vital items they control under the Ministry of Commerce]
On the green box: Face masks
On the brown box: Eggs
On the building: Ministry of Commence
On the truck: Ministry of Interior
Caption: Take those goods away

[Refers to the inefficient management of the Ministry of Commence in allocating products, such as face masks and eggs, during the Covid-19 crisis.
The government has been strongly criticized by the public for its failure to control the price and supply of necessary products.
In response, the government decided to transfer the supervising of these items, which were under the supervision of a ministry led by a Democrat Party figure, to other ministries including the Ministry of Interior.
The media refers to the Democrat Party as “cockroaches” as they have somehow been able to survive never being dissolved as a party and tend to pop up in government after government.]

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Self-quarantine from eggs and masks

From Manager, April 1, 2020
Top: 2 meters
Mid: [red] Egg distancing [black] 100 meters
Bottom: Mask distancing [black] 1000 meters

[Refers to the inexplicable shortages of some necessary products, such as of eggs and masks.
The societial assumption in the Thai world is that supplies of these are being hoarding by businessmen who are clandestinely exporting them to countries that will pay a premium for them.
The government has contended that there is either no shortage or that the shortages are due to misuse (such as overusing eggs).]

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Don’t bring the virus home

From Matichon Weekly, March 31, 2020
Title: Return home–must not spread to others. Self-quarantine for 14 days. [black] Responsible for society. Together to fight with the crisis [red] COVID-19.
Bus: Bangkok-Srisaket

[Refers to a call from the government for people who return home from Bangkok to self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The closure of businesses in Bangkok during this time led to an exodus of young workers whose families live in the provinces.]

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Waiting for eggs

From Manager, March 30, 2020
Ministry of Commence chief Jurin: Why don’t you stay home… Why do you go out?
On the building: Ministry of Commence
Man: Because all of you are staying home… So, we have to go out for buying eggs. [meaning that the Ministry of Commence is not doing its job and thus there is an egg shortage]
On sign: Rationing eggs. Each person can buy 10.

[Refers to the government failure to control supply of important foods during the COVID-19 crisis. This is the responsibility of the Ministry of Commence led by Jurin Laksanawisit. This cartoon shows public anger over yet another unexplained shortage of a vital commodity.]

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The wealthy are heartless

From March 27, 2020
Caption: Measuring “awareness” and “virtue”
Left, doctor and people think: storing [hoarding] masks; out of stock; the price goes up; alcohol gel
Right, mother thinks: storing [hoarding] eggs; out of stock; the price goes up
Mouse man: Proves the heart of the people while in a critical situation.
Mouse: The wealthy are heartless.

[This references the strange and persistent shortages of vital items during the pandemic. Several allegations have been made that wealthy people have been holding back these vital items to sell at a higher price or distribute abroad.]

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Risk to be infected

From March 26, 2020
Title: The giant has a club.
On a club: State of emergency decree
On paper held by PM Prayuth: Thailand must win.
Phi Nooring: Must strongly subdue
Mouse: Don’t risk to be infected [meaning the government is as afraid of being infected by the media as it is of the virus]

[Refers to the enforcement to the State Emergency by the government to cope with the spread of the corona virus.
The opposition claims that the decree will be used to silence opposition to government policies under prohibitions against fake news.]

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People are harmed already

From Thairath, March 25, 2020
Title: Isn’t it ok, if it is more serious? Now, people have already suffered. [meaning if the government implements more serious matters to combat the virus, it will not matter, because people have already suffered]
PM Prayuth: Don’t force me to use the highest measures. [This is a warning issued by the PM that if people do not self-isolated, a complete lockdown will be declared.]
On PM Prayuth’s shirt: Thailand must win.
Phi Nooring: Who will die first between the disease and the people?
Mouse: Help people first
On people’s shirts from left to right: Business bankruptcy, widespread of disease, lost an income for living

[Refers to the concern that the government’s measures to combat covid-19 will impact people’s livelihoods. The government opposition have repeatedly criticized the business shutdowns and the government business bailouts as harming rank-and-file workers.]

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The real enemy of security

From Thairath, March 19, 2020
Title: The real enemy of security
PM Prayuth: Thailand must win! [a quote from one of his speeches]
On papers around the viruses: Examination fees; Medical fees are expensive; Shortage of medical supplies; Fake news; People are panicing
On paper held by a man: Solving the problems very late
Phi Nooring: Stop spreading and no more fatalities.
Mouse: We will be survive together.

[This cartoon contends the real danger to the country and its security is PM Prayuth. The government has been criticized for its ineffective and slow response to the situation.]

Earlier cartoons criticizing the virus response:
Should we close the door?
Covid will knock him out

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Should we close the door?

From Manager, March 19, 2020
Left: Should we close the door?
Right: Wait… The warlord is still deciding. [referring to PM Prayuth standing at center top.]
Viruses are saying: Kill it! Kill!

[This cartoon shows characters and a setting from Thai ancient history and personifies the country as a fort besieged by the Covid-19 virus spread.
After a increasing number of COVID-19 cases in mid-March, many wondered why the government hesitated in closing the country’s borders to halt the spread.]

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When you meet the real dictator

From Manager, March 26, 2020
Covid19: Crazy for democracy… crazy for freedom? If you dare… Go out to the street…!!!
Caption: When you meet the real dictator

[Refers to the leaders of the banned Future Forward Party which called for their supporters to rally and call on PM Prayuth to resign. This was being ramped up just as the pandemic was beginning to look more serious for Thailand. The leaders also launched a media campaign with vaguely aggressive messages such as “If we burn, you will burn with us” and “It’s just the beginning.”
All of this mirrored earlier seasons of protest during the March-May time period when large numbers of rural people could be mobilized to protest during the farming off-season.
What was really planned will never be known as the anti-government movement backed down as the realities of the outbreak became clearer. The opposition Pheu Thai also distanced themselves from the calls for protests, pledging to work with the government to stem the spread of the virus to help the country get through the crisis.]

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Staying alive at the 7-11

From Manager, March 31, 2020
Signs on the buildings from above left: Department store: closed; Market: closed; Barber: closed; Coffee-Bread shop: closed; Steak shop: closed
Virus: Hey! The convenience store isn’t closed… We are staying alive!

[This refers to the habits of people, especially in rural provincial areas. Typically people socialize in the evening by shopping or going to pubs and restaurants. Once these were closed, people were thought to shop and hang out around the many 24-hour convenience stores that had not been ordered closed. These places are typical places for people to congregate outside even in normal times.
Shortly after this cartoon was published, the government did order an overnight closure for such places to enforce social distancing.]

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Helping stocks… but not helping people’s lives

From Thairath, March 24, 2020
Title: Helping stocks… but not helping people’s lives
PM Prayuth: Telling you to stay home for the country
On the coin bags: Businessmen, stock market, rich men, ten billion in funds
On the bus: Go back our hometown
On people’s shirts: Shops are closed, laid off, jobless, don’t have incomes, don’t have money
Covid-19 on the top of the bus: Yeah, yeah. We want to go together. Yeah.
Phi Nooring: Afraid of no money rather than disease.
Mouse: Life is locked down.

[Refers to the government’s measures to handle with the spread of the virus. This cartoon reflects the opposition’s claims that the government’s measures benefit business groups rather then ordinary people who heavily are affected by the shutdown of businesses.]

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Virus spreading out

From Manager, March 24, 2020
Title: Kids are going back to hometown… Please wait to welcome them!
On a sign: Bus station
On the buses from left to right: Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Udonthani, Nongkhai

[Refers to the widespread concern that government actions in closing business places in Bangkok would lead to a proliferation of covid-19 cases in the provinces.
This is because young people throughout the country journey to Bangkok to work and then on holidays return to their parents’ homes in the provinces. With businesses in Bangkok being closed, an exodus of these workers would be expected to leave the city to stay in the provinces with their families until the jobs return.]

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PM Prayuth’s birthday

From Arun, March 23, 2020
Title: Blow the candles out.
This year, the cake is a special order.
Red Title: 66th year birthday
Under the cake: Covid

[Refers to PM Prayuth’s birthday on March 21 and the immense challenges the unexpected pandemic poses to the economy and the government.]

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Covid will knock him out

From Manager, March 18, 2020
Opposition party members at left: Covid kill him… Knock him down… Go kill him… Yeah!
Virus: We have been boxing in several countries. Only in this country are their people cheering us.

[PM Prayuth’s government has been criticized for its hesitant handling of the growing Covid19 crisis as well as for the mysterious lack of face masks despite government claims that there are plenty available.
Opposition groups have been quick to capitalize on this unexpected crisis for the government. Former members of the disbanded Future Forward Party launched a “Progressive Movement” that specifically targets issues such as overpriced masks as well as public lack of confidence in the present government to handle the crisis.
The campaign features a series of photos of former party leaders wearing masks with messages in English for the government, such as “If we burn, you will burn with us.”
These criticisms are intertwined with the perennial opposition desires over the last decade–such as rewriting the constitution and dissolving the Constitutional Court.
The opposition is furious over an appointed senate that allows the military-backed government the final upper hand in blocking opposition desires to rewrite the charter. It also seethes that yet another popular political party that threatens the establishment has been dissolved.
The cartoonist attacks the opposition parties for using the pandemic as a chance to whip up opposition to the government.]

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Stop paddling the boat for the thief

From Naewna, March 12, 2020
Reporter: MPs from the Democrat Party announced they want to withdraw from the government to “stop paddling the boat for the thief.”
PM Prayuth: Then, let them withdraw.
Caption: The day when Uncle Tu [PM Prayuth] wore a mask in the wrong position.

[Refers to some of MPs from the Democrat Party calling for their party to withdraw from the government after there was a clip indicating that cabinet members were linked to the export of face masks–allegedly making money while there was a dire shortage in the country.
“To stop paddling the boat for the thief” is a saying that here implies that the Democrat Party’s participation in the government coalition is enabling top government ministers who are corrupt.]

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