From Manager May 19, 2021
Protesters: Overthrow Prayuth. Reform the monarchy. Revise the constitution. Make the country become a democratic country… For Thailand not to miss the crown of Miss Universe!!!
Signs from left to right: Fight for a crown. Fight for Miss Universe. Amanda is a victim of dictator. Fight for a crown. Fight for Miss Universe
Caption: This reason may help urge people to call out.
[Refers to Thai Miss Universe Amanda Obdam who lost the Miss Universe pageant. Anti-government groups claimed the reason for her loss was because she was from a country ruled by a dictator and the cartoonist mocks this. Note the portrayal of the student protesters with their trendy hairstyles and colored hair.]
From Manager May 19, 2021
From Manager, May 17, 2021
PM Prayuth: Download MohPrompt and queue up respectively [MohPrompt is the required app to register to get the vaccine]
On the wall: Vaccine service
On the door: Open 1 June
COVID-19 in the background: Kup, Aum, Jum [sounds of chewing]
[Refers to the baffling slow vaccination drive amid the rapid spread of COVID-19.]
From Thairath, May 13, 2021
Title: Choose to avoid death
Above the vaccine in the doctor’s hands (left): Free vaccine
Above the vaccine in the doctor’s hands (right): Paid vaccine
Phi Nooring: Death is chasing.
Mouse: Karma of Thais
[This is more anti-government tactics to sow doubt about the government vaccines. It contends that the “Karma of Thais”–that is, their place in the world and their wealth–comes into play when having to decide on vaccination.
They have to choose either a free vaccine provided by the government or, if they are lucky enough to have money, a paid vaccine which people believe has more effectiveness.
Implicit in this is the opposition allusions that the government vaccine should be avoided as it has a lower effectiveness and that the procurement of the vaccines is wrapped in obscure, big money businesses and thus should not be trusted.]
From Manager, May 27, 2021
Left, Thanathorn: If it comes on time in June… it will kill us all… [meaning the opposition has been sowing doubt about the safety and availability of the vaccines in their efforts to attack the government, so if the Astrazeneca vaccines comes on time the opposition will loose an issue they have been harping on]
Left caption: Opposition parties’ God of death
Right: If it can’t come on time in June… it will kill us all… [meaning if the Astrazeneca vaccines are not available as promised, the government will suffer a massive loss of face]
Right caption: …Government’s one.
[Refers to the roll out of Astrazeneca vaccine on time with the government’s announcemeed June 7 deadline. To maintain this self-imposed deadline, the government planned to use Sinovac on the elderly instead of Astrazeneca since they are still unable to produce enough in quantity. However, the government maintains all the does have been transferred to the government on time.]
From Thairath, May 27, 2021
Dr. Taweesin on TV at left: People increasingly are infected everyday. New variants become outbreaks.
On the TV on the left: CCSA
PM Prayuth on TV at right: Encourage Thai people to get COVID vaccines as much as possible. This should be the ‘national agenda’
People in the back row: Afraid of a virus to transfer to a new variant; No rights to choose [the vaccine], Only two vaccines can be used [referring to the government stranglehold on vaccine procurement]; Afraid of the side effects causing to die
People in the front row: Afraid of Covid infection and dying at home; The government fails to manage the vaccine [meaning production is slow]; Vaccines are not insufficient.
Phi Nooring: Taking a benefit from the vaccine
Mouse: Excited everyday
[Refers to the vaccine crisis in the country after the government is trying to encourage people to be vaccinated. Amid people’s distrust about China’s Sinovac vaccine, this cartoon illustrates that while people are afraid of rapid increase of COVID-19 outbreak daily reported by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), they are also mad about having no choice in the vaccine they receive.]
From Thairath, May 10, 2021
Title: Popular wood doll
On the chair: Power [the doll is PM Prayuth as Pinocchio]
People’s statements: Handle COVID; Search for COVID vaccines; Don’t let people die at home; People’s relief measures; Problem with people’s living; Problem with damaged economy
Phi Nooring: Angry Wood Doll
Mouse: Sit still, Look pretty
[Refers to PM Prayuth who is facing a severe outbreak of COVID-19. It shows that PM Prayuth, who is know for his flashes of anger, sitting in the chair of power as he is accused of not being prepared for the outbreak.]
From Manager, May 10, 2021
Foreigners: We are a hundred million of population from 20 countries… inoculated with Astra and Sinovac and they have good effectiveness… Why don’t you believe?
Thai man: I don’t believe… My dog says it’s a low quality.
[Refers to the distrust of Thai people toward the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vacinnes.
Anti-government groups and opposition politicians tried to discredit the vaccines, questioning their safety and the lack of transparency of their procurement, linking them to China and CP Group which is a shareholder in Siam Bioscience which is producing AstraZeneca in the country.
It is likely that government insistence, over many months, to only use these two vaccines, may have led to public suspicion as well.
Due to this, many people are afraid of the government-mandated vaccines and prefer to wait for vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.
The cartoonist says those who have been influenced by the opposition to question the vaccines are receiving wrong information.
In Thai, “dog” is “mah” while doctor is “moh.” So it contends that those rejecting the vaccines are confusing the bark of their dog, “mah” (the opposition), with the advice of a doctor or “moh.”]
From Thairath, May 4, 2021
Title: Truly speaking team vs Truly dying team
At left, government team, left to right: PM puts a lot of effort to deal with COVID problem; Inoculate vaccines for 50 million people within the end of the year; Patients, who can’t find hospital beds, don’t give up; Thais don’t drop your guards; It has become worse, but still afraid of people’s gossip [this last on seems to refer to PM Prayuth who admitted the growing covid toll, but warned people not to gossip about him and the stability of the government]
On the toes of the dead, left to right: Died at home; Died because of a late treatment; Die increasingly everyday.
Phi Nooring: God doesn’t help.
Mouse: This team is only good at speaking.
[Refers to the failure of the government in dealing with the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country. It contrasts the positive messages with the realities of a government unable to deal with increasing numbers of infected.]
From Thairath, May 3, 2021
Title: Run away from the tiger then meet the crocodile instead
On bottle: Vaccine
Phi Nooring: From a hope, but turn to fear.
Mouse: Lost confidence
[This refers to the alleged fear of vaccines, especially Sinovac from China. This is part of the opposition strategy to criticize the government over its slow vaccination efforts and alleged corruption in the vaccination procurement by raising concerns about the safety of vaccines. However, recently the Move Forward Party reversed its position and urged people to get vaccinated. The cartoon illustrates the dilemma as Thai proverb “run away from the tiger then meet the crocodile instead” which is similar to the the English proverb “out of the frying pan, into the fire.”]
From Manager, May 4, 2021
Teenager: Teacher… Thailand sucks like you said… I want to leave this country, how should I do?
David Streckfuss: Marry with the lady from that country.
Caption: Must ask teacher David
[Refers to American scholar David Streckfuss who worked at Khon Kaen University and specializes in the lese majeste law. He also works as a head of news outlet “The Isaan Record.” The university recently terminated his work permit affecting his visa due to his political activities. Of course, authorities, in the Thai way, blame all this on procedures that have nothing to do with Streckfuss’ work.
Later, he married a staff member who works as the editor of “The Isaan Record.” Many people believed that his marriage was a tactical move in the efforts to extend his visa and staying in Thailand to continue his writing on lese majeste issues.
Meanwhile, in efforts to get Penguin and other activists released, small numbers of protesters, led by REDEM, gathered before the courts building, threw red paint on the building’s signs and threw firecrackers at authorities. At the time, it seemed the authorities were steadfast in their bail denials insisting, among other things, that those being bailed must agree not to recommit the offense for which they were charged.
All of this caused great frustration in anti-government camps, especially as the public seemed little interested in the drama as the third wave of covid was growing. The fighting by the courts was slavishly covered on Twitter, but the media, no doubt influenced by the military-dominated government, generally held back from any on-the-spot journalism, instead writing after-the-fact articles, summing up the events.
As this was happening, a Facebook group was started, expressing the the desire to leave the country over the perceived injustice of the government and courts in not releasing Penguin and the other student protest leaders on bail. It quickly gained hundred of thousands of followers. Some foreign embassies, perhaps not well-informed and not understanding the political message of the group–that Thailand was a failed and unjust state–posted articles promoting their nations as pleasant places for Thais to live.
The teenagers portrayed in this cartoon express this sentiment, asking how he could be able to leave the country over his frustration and live overseas. Then the joke is that the revered foreign academic, seen by many as a lone voice against Thailand’s lese majeste law, decided to get married to enable him to stay in Thailand.
The Manager cartoonists are always quick to mock to student protesters when it seems they are overstating their sense of oppression. Another example of this: Don’t let Myanmar become Thailand]
From Thairath, April 22, 2021
Title: Thai people! Why still stay ‘silent’?
On the papers held by people: Release our sister. Release our kids. Release our friends. Rights to bail out. Did nothing wrong. Don’t need to go to jail. Violate the constitution. Release our friends. Call for justice. Release
Papers on the ground: Call for the future; Call for freedom; Call for reform
Sign on the man with camera: Press
Word in front of them: Silent Thais
On the sleeve: Dictator; injustice
Phi Nooring: Everyone is the country’s future.
Mouse: Don’t be cruel, Thais.
[Refers to the anti-government group calling the public to support their campaign to releasing the student protest leaders who have been denied bail and are detained for allegedly violating article 112 (the lese majeste law).
With all the news from Myanmar and the serious resurgence of COVID locally, much of the media has forgotten the student protests that dwindled away as their leaders remain jailed without bail. Their continued detention is a serious issue for future protests as it discourages others from taking a bold stand and makes clear that the quick, sweeping changes that are being called for remain remote.]
From Arun, April 22, 2021
Inside white box on the top: “CP rich man” asks the PM to allow the private sector to import the COVID vaccine.
Left: “Release our friends”
Right: “Release vaccines freely”
Caption: Big guy comes..
[Refers to CP owner Dhanin Chearavanont asking the government to allow the private sector to import COVID-19 vaccines. This is due to the incredibly slow rollout of vaccination and the appearance that the government was attempting to monopolize the procurement process.
The “big guy” here refers to Dhanin. Such a person and his vast resources overshadows even the government and thus such people are usually careful about making public statements that might impact the economy. Their statements can shake markets and cause policy changes in a way the comparatively simple military men who control the government never could.
The cartoonist compares the locked up student leaders with the vaccine procurement and questions why the government has so long controlled the procurement.
The government confusingly replied that any business can order vaccines as long as they filled out the paperwork. It is likely that the current third and most severe wave of infections will force the government to relent and allow widespread procurement by hospitals.]
From Thairath, April 29, 2021
Title: It’s necessary for security.
On paper held by Army chief Gen. Narongpan Jittkaewtae: Go forward to buy weapons.
Medical staff behind left: Increase a number of infection cases everyday Middle: Hospital crisis Right: Covid vaccine crisis.
On the corpses: Died at home
Paper on the woman: Grandma died at home
Paper close to the man: No car [ambulance] to pick up. Wait until he died
Phi Nooring: The army is unconcerned.
Mouse: Don’t care about people’s sufferings
[After a year of generally successful handling the COVID crisis with very small numbers of infections, the government seemed unprepared for the current major outbreak, instead relying on its plan to restrict vaccines supply to two types and have the public wait until the vaccine can be produced locally.
The military continued to move forward on massive weapons procurement. The public has strongly criticized the government response to the latest COVID wave and the continued military spending while people die unvaccinated.]
From Thairath, April 28, 2021
[The government has come under withering public criticism for their attempts to monopolize the vaccine supply, restricting it to two vaccine types and prioritizing local production over quick inoculations.
Responding to the pressure, Public Health Minister Anutin said that he would beg for Pfizer if it helps the country to get the vaccine quicker.]
Some links to help understand recent events:
The student protesters did not follow politicians’ plan of attack
Strange non-violent protests
Myanmar killings are good for the government
Resetting the bloody protests
From Manager, April 21, 2021
Chonthicha: Hey you… I accidentally leaked our Line chat.
[Refers to social media news about a Line chat between Thai political NGO Chonthicha Kate Jangrew and former U.S. Embassy staff Henry Rector about the political situation in Thailand. This allegedly shows that the U.S. was actively playing behind the scenes in the Thai political conflict.
However, both Chonthicha and U.S. Embassy denied this and insisted that the Line chat was fake.
In bed are the leaders of anti-government groups, from left to right: Rung, Penguin, Amy and Mike.
All of this is part of the conspiracies that the U.S. has been trying to dispel since the student protests and their vow to reform the monarchy emerged last year.
Such conspiracies were mainly spurred by photos that revealed the student protest leaders having a meeting at the U.S. embassy. The U.S. embassy replied that the protest leaders were just one of many groups they regularly meet with to get an understanding of Thai society and politics.
More conspiracy theories emerged after U.S. senators released statements to assure the international community that the students did not wish revolution while, back in Thailand, student groups were extolling communism and unveiled a new logo made to resemble the hammer and sickle.
Another example is The Hand of Uncle Sam. Some Thai media has become very anti-American and equates the protests in Thailand with those in Hong Kong and through a very Chinese perspective which sees an attempt by rich tycoons to ruin the nation to get their way.
For more see Causing trouble in Hong Kong
and Real democracy in Hong Kong]
From Manager, May 4, 2021
Somsak: Guin said using his stomach to call people out for this moment.
On the signs held by protesters: RIP Guin; Guin dies, our friend; Don’t let Guin die in vain
On the sign held by Panika ‘Chor’ at left: Guin must not die in vain
[Refers to Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and his hunger strike. He was demanding to be released on bail for lese majeste charges. In recent weeks his mother and anti-government groups called the court to release Penguin before he died. The government moved him to a hospital and claimed his condition was not serious as protesters claimed. The cartoonist is joking that the student movement is using Penguin’s health to try to generate public interest in their waning protests.
Penguin was finally released this week after agreeing not to repeat the actions he was arrested for.]
From Manager, April 20, 2021
Covid-19: If not because of your bribery… and carelessness, we can’t recover to spread an outbreak again… Thank you!
Caption: Have already thanked them?
[Refers to the new COVID-19 cluster starting from the bar Krystal Club Thonglor 25. Many politicians have been infected from this bar. The police have been criticized for allowing powerful people to skirt pandemic prevention procedures and for bars to disregard rules on closing times.
This cartoon shows a typical ritual where a person (in this case the virus) who has appealed to and won support from the police to do something wrong, then humbly thanks the police for their indulgence.]
From Naewna, April 27, 2021
COVID-19: If you love yourself and are afraid of dying, then, make an order to lockdown the country, PM.
On the bag: Country’s economy
PM Prayuth: No… no…
Caption: Sometimes poverty is scarier than death.
[In the current wave of COVID infections, the government has not lockdown the country as they did last year. They seem more concerned about getting the economy going again. This cartoon supports the government position amid widespread public criticism.]
From Manager April 19, 2021
Caption: Fortune favors the bold party
People commenting on the Move Forward Party decision to be vaccinated: Oppose… oppose… oppose, but inject first?; Your party once said… you won’t grab it from the people?; Hey… criticize it, but why inject it?
Man in the far distance: Shameless
Man with glasses at the bottom right: Close your ears firmly.
[Refers to MPs from the Move Forward Party announcing their plan to accept COVID-19 vaccinations provided by the government. According to them, they took the action in order to encourage people to get the vaccine.
The new party stance has been criticized. The party, led by Thanathorn, made attacking the government’s vaccine plan, and especially questioning the quality of the vaccine, a bold public position, even risking lese majeste charges. The cartoonist mocks this initial position compared with their flip-flop to decide to accept government vacinnes and urge others to also.]
From Arun, April 27, 2021
On the white box at top: When the ‘disease’ inundates the globe. Every country quickly inoculates. “Noah’s Ark 2021”
[Refers to the continuing and baffling lack of widespread vaccination in Thailand as well as the government’s embargo on private hospitals ordering their own stocks of vaccine. While many countries have quickly vaccinated, Thailand is still lagging behind neighboring countries (even Laos).]
From Arun, April 13, 2021
Inside the white box: Christine Schraner Burgener. UN Special Envoy visits Thailand to discuss about the protests in Myanmar.
Foreign Minister Don: Madam, Myanmar is over there.
[Refers to UN Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener who met with Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in Thailand to discuss the Myanmar crisis. However, she was refused entry to Myanmar by the junta.
Critics of Thailand’s military-dominated government have correctly noted that the crisis in Myanmar takes the pressure off of Thailand’s comparatively minor protests. The cartoonist seems to joke that the U.N. envoy might see the unrest and injustice in Thailand rather than focusing on Myanmar.]
From Manager, April 25, 2021
Man: Just eat me… I won’t fight anymore… Listen to the PM’s announcement… It’s hopeless.
[Refers to public disappointment toward the government response to handling the new outbreak of COVID-19. Not only has vaccination proceeded at a snail’s pace compared to other countries, but the government has stalled attempts to import additional brands of vaccine outside the ones they themselves have brokered. PM Prayuth was criticized for failing to communicate with the public on measures to contain the virus and economic assistance to those affected.]
From Manager, April 12, 2021
Rakshasa Devi: Because of your sexual yearning, my Songkran festival is totally destroyed.
Caption: It should….!! [something like “it should happen” or “it should be”]
[Refers to the new COVID-19 cluster occurring in super high class hostess bars in the Thonglor area and then later spreading nationwide. This led to strong criticism as many top government officials, politicians and foreign diplomats became infected–and it is suspected they caught it from these bars. Indeed, the top hostess bars have long been called “Government House II” due to the habitual patronage of government officials. In the cartoon the goddess of Songkran curses the lust of the politician who could not resist attending the bars and spreading the virus.]
From Khaosod, April 15, 2021
Title: To be safe during Songkran, we must stay home!
Frog: Release our friends [calling for the release those denied bail and held for allegedly violating Article 112]
On the bowl: Happy New Year
[Refers to government’s last-minute campaign during Songkran to urge people to stay home to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19.]
From Khaosod, April 14, 2021
Title: COVID Rakshasa Devi ๒๕๖๔ [B.E.2564 or 2021] Go!
[Refers to this year goddess of Songkran Rakshasa Devi who rides this year’s symbolic animal, a pig. Instead of showing Rakshasa Devi, the goddess of the year is shown as COVID-19.]
From Manager, Apr 14, 2021
On the black box on the top: Economy. Annoying economy [the name of the column] Top right: Ngao [name of the cartoonist] Top left: Hey! This Songkran has COVID. They do not allow the splashing of water!?
Top Right: Why we can’t splash?
Bottom left: Here… it is!!
Bottom right:We splash with 78% alcohol.
From Prachachat, April 12-14, 2021
Title: Songkran days ๒๕๖๔ [B.E.2564 or 2021]
[Refers to this year’s Songkran Goddess which is named named Rakshasa Devi who rides a pig. However, due to the severe spread of COVID-19, the cartoonist shows the goddess wearing the green uniform of the hospital staff instead of traditional Thai dress and the pig wears a mask.]
From Thairath, April 7, 2021
Title: People’s unity for Thailand. Must overthrow Prayuth
PM Prayuth: Come to overthrow me if you can
On the signs: Article 112 [lese majeste]; Article 116 [sedition]; Slander; Deny bail; Threaten; Arrest for a long time [meaning the student protest leaders are being held without bail]
Phi Nooring: Release our friends
Mouse: Join hands every color
[This is a call to support the new Jatuporn-led anti-government group. The group was carefully composed to include a wide range of former protest leaders. This is why the mouse says “Join hands every color” and the people pictured in front have both Red shirt clapper feet and Yellow shirt clapper hands.
The new grouping seeks to refocus protest attention on unseating the government and dropping the calls for reform and discussion of the monarchy.
See also: Reverse tactics!]
From Naewna, April 8, 2021
Left: Ten will go to the protest on overthrowing the monarchy.
Right: Tu will go for overthrowing Prayuth
On the pants: Thaksin’s slave
Caption: Different, but the same prison [meaning they are linked to Thaksin]. Ten overthrows the monarchy. Tu burns the city. [refers to Red Shirt threats of arson in 2010]
[Red shirt leader Jatuporn “Tu” Prompan has started an anti-Prayuth protest group while Nattawut “Ten” Saikua maintains his support for the existing anti-monarchy group Ratsadon. The cartoon contends the actions of the two seem separate, but are both part of Thaksin’s plan.
However, in reality, there is no doubt a deep divide in former Red Shirt ranks with the core group continuing to support the student protesters and their focus on the monarchy. This seems completely opposed to Thaksin’s strategy as he has worked to make sure his party avoids the monarchy. That Jatuporn is being pushed forward as a new protest leader, along with Thaksin’s raising of his public profile again, shows that an effort is being made to pick up the momentum after the student protests have seemed to have gone nowhere recently.
See also: Reverse tactics!]
From Daily News, April 12, 2021
Title: Songkran; Happy; New Normal ๒๕๖๔ [B.E.2564 or 2021]
On a bowl: Kon La Khan project [one person, one bowl project]
[This cartoon shows PM Prayuth at left and Deputy PM Prawit at right in the giant bowl. Prawit is giving a bowl to people as the gift for Songkran. On the giant bowl is “Kon La Khan project” (“one person, one bowl project”). This is a joke referring to the government project “Kon la Khrueng” or “Let’s Go Halves” in which the government pays half of purchases from certain retailers to stimulate the country’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.]
From Thairath, April 6, 2021
Title: Take a rest, bro. I will handle it.
On Jatuporn’s back: Thais won’t accept it. People unite to overthrow Prayuth.
On students’ shirts: Ratsadon
On people’s shirts: People
Phi Nooring: Good match
Mouse: Get rid of the dictator
[This is one of the few mentions in the media supportive of Jatuporn attempting to form a new anti-government movement. It is from pro-Thaksin/Red Shirt cartoonist Sia. The cartoon shows the student protesters cheerfully saluting Jatuporn and apparently inviting him to take over the lead of their protests to confront Prayuth.
Elsewhere, the reveal of Jatuporn as the new leader of the movement was met with nearly universal ridicule–especially by those who see the issue of reform of the monarchy as the most important protest issue.]
[Below is a recap of recent political events and other perspectives. These are based on editorial cartoons which are, by their definition, opinions. However they can serve to illuminate various points that are not apparent from the bland international media coverage of events in Thailand.
December 2020: Shakeup in the Pheu Thai and Red Shirts in the government: Red Shirt pacifists?
October 2020: Initially student protesters conducted short, non-violent protests which were met with surprise in the Thai world where it is thought that only provoking violence can make a difference: Different tactics
October 2020: After a rally commemorating Thaksin’s ouster was unexpectedly taken over by anti-monarchy protesters, the Pheu Thai was hastily reorganized: Painting the Pheu Thai yellow
October 2020: If one is interested in different perspectives, this is cartoon with a defense of the monarchy as a counterbalance to dictators: Reform the monarchy following Hun Sen’s model
October 2020: The government thanking the new student protests for attacking the monarchy: Unscathed, for now…
September 2020: The student protesters did not follow Pheu Thai’s plan of attack: Hey! Wrong target!]