Aug 31st, 2020

Stop appointed senators from voting

From Thairath, August 6, 2020
Title: Cut the worst part first.
On a man’s hand: Vote for PM
On his shirt: Senator appointed by his group
On the chopping block: Revise the constitution
Signs held by the protesters: Free People; Call for the future; Youth; Don’t want the senators appointed by their groups; Overthrow the uncle [“uncle” being PM Prayuth]
Phi Nooring: A disgusting and dangerous organ [meaning the arm of the voting senator]
Mouse: Work for the dictator

[Refers to the current anti-government protests. The cartoon illustrates that under the current constitution, appointed senators vote for PM. As these men are invariably pro-military men, it allows the former junta to extend their power and form the current government. More on this concept from 2016: Thailand’s Half Democracy]

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Changed fathers

From Manager, August 18, 2020
Left, typical Thai father: I took care of this kid… but when he grows up, he calls another father. [meaning that Thai youth are following figures like Thanatorn with more radical ideas about political reform rather than their own parents]
Right, Thanatorn: I taught this kid… but when he grows up, he calls another father.
On the boy’s shirt: Free youth [name of the student protest group]
Caption: Loss of fatherhood

[Refers to the supposed declining popularity of Thanathorn as an iconic figure of defiance. It is thought at one time he was the person the more reform-minded young people would vote for. He was bold and pugnacious, a young person who glared directly out from his campaign posters with a sour look on his face, insisting there would be change and he could confront the powers of the land.
However, with the sudden shift of the student protests away from the more prosaic (“rewrite the constitution”) to the more controversial (“reform the monarchy”), students no longer needed a proxy figure like Thanatorn to follow, but began to follow and reference directly exiled lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul who speaks on issues of the monarchy.
The concept of Thanatorn as a father comes from a campaign slogan young people used based on a soap opera: Fah loves…]

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Locked in place

From Thairath, August 5, 2020
Title: I will lead Thailand to move forward.
Blocks on PM Prayuth’s feet, left: Political problems; Decline in power On right blocks: Economic problems; Massive debts; Don’t have the ability to solve
Sign on the left: Broken hearts from cabinet reshuffle [referencing the bitter feelings from government coalition members who lost out in the reshuffle]
Signs held by youth: Free Youth; Junior high school students; High school students; Stop threatening the people; Revise the constitution; Dissolve the parliament; Overthrow the uncle [referring to the demands of the student protesters]
Sign held by Japanese cartoon character ‘Hamtaro’: Dissolve the parliament [this refers to one of the themed protests of the students]
Phi Nooring: Try to move yourself first
Mouse: Country’s hideous burden

[Refers to the current situation of government led by PM Prayuth known as “Uncle Tu.” While PM Prayuth vows to lead the country to move forward, his government is now facing the several problems including economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict among coalition parties.]

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Please forget the dead police officer

From Manager, July 30, 2020
Police: Previously, it was carelessly covered because we did it quietly… We were not aware anyone would see.
Caption at left: Police’s investigation team
Prosecutors: Right… Because of CNN, we have to cover it again!… uh!
Caption at right: ….Prosecution team
On the grave: Boss’ case

[Refers to the case of Vorayuth ‘Boss’ Yoovidhya, heir of the Red Bull company. After being accused of killing a police officer while driving, Vorayuth vanished and recently all charged were dropped and the case was closed. CNN publicized the case, which led to public scorn being cast on the justice system, driving home the commonly held belief that the rich can opt out of consequences for their actions.]

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Attack justice until it is ruined

From Thairath, July 28, 2020
Title: Guess… Who?… Attack until it is ruined.
On the scales at left: Justice system
Number one at top is the Red Bull logo. Number 2 is a police officer. Number 3: Prosecutor
Phi Nooring: Driving and killing people, but drop the charges.
Mouse: Use power for corruption.

[Refers to the Red Bull’s heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya whose charges for hit-and-run were dropped. Then the police dismissed his case. This all appeared to show how the organs of the state conspired for the benefit of the super rich.]

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More protected than Yingluck

From Manager, July 28, 2020
Thaksin: My sister won’t be in the jail for a second.
Caption on the left: Above the sky…
Chalerm: My son won’t be in court for a second!!
Caption: …There is another sky.

[Refers to Thai proverb “Above the sky, there is another sky” meaning there is a big power behind every apparent power.
The cartoon shows Thaksin and how he protected his proxy Yingluck when she was Prime Minister, pulling her out of the country when it became time for her to receive a sentence during a court case.
In contrast, Red Bull executive Chalerm’s son Vorayuth Yoovidhya is part of such a powerful clique that he, unlike Yingluck, never even has to stand in a courtroom. Then, unlike Yingluck, all the charges were dismissed and the case closed. The cartoonist shows Vorayuth smirking at Yingluck who had to deign to play the game of standing in court.]

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Government on slow boil

From Arun, August 4, 2020
Title: Frog is now boiled (takes too long to realize).
On the flame: Flash mob

[We think this refers to the government and its supporters who do not think that flash mobs (or protests) conducted by youth to call for annulling the current constitution and writing a new one will have any impact. The cartoon shows the proverb of the frog being boiled–contending, if the heat slowly increases, the frog will not realize it. This is to represent the government and military who seem confident they can remain firmly in control. Associated with this is the Thai proverb of the frog inside the coconut shell, meaning a person who does not know the wider world and only believes the reality of their little world in the shell.]

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Red Bull special protection

From Manager, July 27, 2020
Left: Animal preservation under the law
Right: Animal preservation above the law

[Refers to the hit-and-run case of Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya. This case has shaken faith in the ability of the country to hold the rich to account for their actions the last charges of fatal reckless driving were dropped and thus the police dismissed his case.
The public has a sense that, if the offender had been an ordinary poor person, they would have already been in jail.
It cartoon shows the Red Bull logo at right, contending that an important and rich family gets special protection.]

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Finally Hung by Hopewell

From Thairath, July 25, 2020
Title: Will he survive?
PM Prayuth: The government has massive debts. Whoever loves me, please help me.
On the fire: Silly payment for a compensation for the Akara gold mine.
On the pole: Silly payment for a compensation for Hopewell.
Phi Nooring: Will face a lot of difficulties.
Mouse: Like to make silly payments

[Refers to the government, led by PM Prayuth, facing massive fines for past government’s projects and action. In particular, the State Railway of Thailand and the Transport Ministry were ordered by the court to pay 11.88 billion baht in compensation to Hopewell (Thailand) Co for the cancellation of a mega-transport project two decades ago.
The government is also in court fighting the Australian company Kingsgate over the closure of the Akara gold mine.
The cartoonist seems to contend that the government should find a way not to pay the compensation.]

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Those young bloods… please follow me

From Naewna, July 24, 2020
Caption: Those young bloods… please follow me.
Lyric from the horn: Insult… violate… hate the country

[The cartoonist refers to allegations that Thanathorn and related politicians are using student protesters to call for the government to resign and to rewrite the constitution.
Alleged anti-monarchy sentiment expressed during the protest is thought to be part of the gambit, to dare the military to crack down and force a political crisis.
This has caused pro-royalist groups to march as well, refusing to rule out violence against those they contend are violating taboos against attacking the monarchy. Both the military and Red Shirts also warned the students to leave the monarchy out of their protests.]

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From Manager, July 24, 2020
Left, in thought bubble: 14 Oct
On the placards: Revise the constitution; Dissolve the parliament
Caption: The goal of the protesters
Right, in thought bubble: 6 Oct
Caption: The goal of those supporters

[Refers to the current protests calling on the government to dissolve parliament and revise the constitution.
The cartoonist implies that the younger generation of student protests is being orchestrated by anti-military and anti-royalist groups led by Thanathorn of the disbanded Future Forward party and his clique of like-minded politicians.
The cartoon shows that the younger generation desires to create a rally like the student protests of October 14, 1973 that resulted in the overthrow of the then-ruling military dictatorship.
However, the cartoonist contends that politicians, either intentionally or through their alleged promotion of anti-monarchy rhetoric, are more likely to trigger a brutal crackdown like that which occurred on October 6, 1976.]

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Temper and the media

From Thairath, July 20, 2020
Title: The symptom of the New Normal.
Left: 2-3 days before at the newspaper office.
On ID card: Media.
On the sign at left: Mass Media Office
Prayuth at Left: I come to listen to the mass media’s opinions for the sake of the country.
Right: 2-3 days today. At Rayong province.
On sign at right: Rayong Province
Prayuth’s right: The mass media spreads news too much that makes people panic.

[This criticizes PM Prayuth’s temper as he first deigns to ask the media for their opinion about handling the pandemic and then criticizing them for reporting negative news.]

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The change in student protest

From Manager, July 22, 2020
Title: The change in student protest
Left, on the placards: Long Live the King
Caption: 14 Oct
Caption on the right: ….Now

[The cartoonist notes the change in the younger generation–or at least the current protesters’–perception towards the monarchy.
During the political uprising on October 14, 1973 to overthrow the military dictatorship, the King was lauded by students as it was said he helped protesters who were being attacked during the crackdown.
However, in the present protests, the cartoonist notes that the monarchy has been attacked by protesters. This has led to warnings from the military and even Red Shirt leaders to leave the monarchy out of protests.]

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The right time to buy a VIP plane

From Thairath, July 22, 2020
Title: The budget that not so cute.
Billboard: The VIP airplane. The price is 1,348.5 million baht.
In cartoon balloon at left: You will survive, if you work hard.
On people’s backs from left: Starve to death. No money. No food. Distress, lose job. No income. Covid’s toxin. Bad economic. Big debt.
Mouse: From the people’s taxes.
Mouse man: This is for flying over poor people’s heads.

[This refers to the budget for a new airplane that military is buying for “general use.” This is interpreted as a special VIP plane for use by top government and military brass.
The “You will survive, if you work hard” quote is from Col. Nusra Vorapatratorn, a former Royal Thai Army spokesperson. She posted on social media that she disagreed with the youth protest which she called the “mung-ming mob”–sort of a condescending way to say their protest was “sweet” or “cute.” She also urged the protesters to find jobs to earn income instead of protesting. Due to her comments, the protesters went to the HQ of Army to criticize military procurement and Col. Nusra.]

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Thanks Egyptians!

From Manager, July 16, 2020
Sudarat: Thanks for helping us. We will handle the rest.
Egyptian soldiers: Bye!
Caption: With a help of Egyptian soldiers

[Refers to the opposition party Pheu Thai led by Sudarat Keyuraphan who seized the opportunity to attack the government over the issue of VIP Egyptian soldiers being allowed to sidestep quarantine. One of the soldiers was later found to be infected with COVID-10. This case caused massive public outcry and impacted tourism in the region.
The cartoonist notes that the event was a boon for the opposition, as the government had been previously touting their success in combating the virus.]

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Taking back by riding a goat to attack

From Naewna, July 16, 2020
Caption: Taking back by riding a goat to attack.
On the goat: Phao Thai
On lizard: Egypt wins
On the tiger: Thailand wins

[This references the Thai proverb “Taking back by riding a goat to attack” meaning attacking someone when they fail, perhaps similar to the English proverb “If the ox falls, whet your knife.”
Here it refers to the opposition Pheu Thai using the case of Egyptian soldiers sidestepping quarantine to attack the government.
The government was using the pandemic to its advantage before this as Thailand has been a top nation in being able to stamp out the contagion within its borders. The government launched the campaign “Thailand wins” to tout their success and encourage people.
However, allowing Egyptian soldiers to possibly spread Covid-19 validates the popular notion that the government cannot possibly be effective when deeply ingrained notions of being a VIP or “hi-so” are involved.
The cartoonist seems to think that this issue is perhaps a weak pone to attack the government over. The tiger symbolizes the “Eastern Tigers” military clique that has dominated politics since the last coup.]

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Ugly hair cuts as punishment

From Thairath, July 15, 2020
Title: Ugly cutting hair does not hurt like cutting feelings and making sadness
Teacher: I cut your hair because of love.
Phi Nooring: Destroy trust
Mouse: Don’t look good and don’t love anymore.

[Refers to the issue of a Thai teacher crudely cutting a student’s hair in punishment for long hair. This is an old-fashioned practice that bespeaks a highhandedness that is not accepted by modern students.
Recently, student groups called for schools to stop setting rules for student’s hairstyles (e.g. short hair) and stop allowing teachers to cut students hair in punishment.]

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Make people who disagree disappear

From Thairath, July 2, 2020
Title: New monument for Thai police after reform.
Center, on the monument: Serve people. The word “serve” is maked out and replaced with “carry.” The word in this context implies “make people who disagree disappear.”
Above left, on man’s shirt: People. On sign: Political activity.
Bottom left, on girl’s shirt: Student.
Above right: Against dictatorship.
Center right, on man shirt: Student.
Sign: Demand for democracy.
Bottom right: ART
Mouse man: Bully. Threaten. Hurt.
Mouse: Serve the dictator.

[Since the dissolution of the major opposition party, the Future Forward, in February 2020, party faithful have been desirous of a new protest showdown with the government. However, the pandemic has stymied their plans for months. The continuing serious covid-19 situation in other countries has allowed the government to contend an emergency decree is still necessary.
In the meantime, a major anti-monarchy and anti-government activist was brazenly kidnapped in Cambodia and protests have been curtailed and discouraged by the powers of the emergency decree.]

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Better by comparison

From Manager, July 2, 2020
Dr. Somkid: Only when the news came out that Jarn Maam will be head of our economic team… did our popularity get very high… Thank you for coming to save us.
Caption: Must respect you.

[This refers to rumors that inexperienced political functionary would head up the economic team of the ruling Palang Pracharat Party. This was after recent intense political bickering that saw the leadership of many parties shaken up as various political cliques attempt to take control of the huge spending schemes of the government.
Government spokeswoman, Narumon Pinyosinwat (nickanemd Jarn Maam), tipped to lead the economic policy team, had to defend her qualifications after withering attacks on social media.
Such purely political appointments for important positions have been typical in politics where the focus is inward toward bolstering and maintaining coalitions and thus power.
In the cartoon, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, head of the government’s economic policy team, thanks Narumon for making them look better by comparison.]

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Americans are biological weapons

From Manager, July 5, 2020
Top, Trump: Former Presidents are not smart and clever like me.
2nd row left: They put a lot of budget… to build weapons… invent new military innovation… waste the country’s funds…
Right: If I become a President for another term, America will be the world’s leader without spending any dollars.
3rd row left: I will use a biological weapon which is inside all American people.
Man: How you gonna do it, sir?
Man: How?
Right, Trump: In the future, if we want to occupy any country, we just send a lot of American people there.
Bottom: Then, cough or sneeze on those enemies… Then, we will win without using tanks… or planes…
Soldiers: Hey! Be careful of COVID infection!!

[Refers to the severe COVID-19 situation in the US. Amid a coming election, President Trump has been criticized for his failure to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The cartoonist jokes that this makes Americans themselves dangerous to other countries.]

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Digging up history to fight each other

From Manager, June 29, 2020
Thanathorn: We will dig up the Khana Ratsadon to overthrow them! [meaning Thanatorn will use the rallying point of the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932 to topple the present government]
On the grave: Khana Ratsadon 2475
Army chef: Khana Ratsadon? Ha… ha… must see this…
On the grave: Boworadet rebellion 2476
Caption: Digging up history to fight each other

[Refers to the fight between two groups–those led by Thanathorn’s group and royalists led by the military.
While Thanathorn’s group was trying to commemorate the 1932 coup which overthrew the absolute monarchy, army chef Apirat promoted the Boworadet rebellion led by Prince Boworadet who attempted a counter-coup one year later.]

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Bananas for the monkeys 2

From Thairath, June 25, 2020
Title: Stop a fight for a ‘banana’ between ‘groups’
On chair: Leader of Palang Pracharath party
On banana held by Deputy PM Prawit: Ministers
On bananas close to him: Political positions
Coin bags close to PM Prayuth from left to right: Budget, Loan
On MPs’ cloth: PPRP
On paper close to them: Compete for Minister positions
Phi Nooring: They will be full [of bananas].
Mouse: Internal war

[Refers to Deputy PM Prawit ‘Pom’ Wongsuwan who has now become the leader of the Palang Pracharath Party. This was done so that this top military figure could ensure government stability amid intense infighting for government spoils among its many factions.
The bananas refer to a famous quote from one of key figures in the Palang Prachrath party. He is Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Thamnat Prompao who compared small groups of MPs demanding control of government ministries to monkeys and he said that if you want to control them, you just give them bananas. This was interpreted to mean that money and other perks have to be given out to calm MPs and keep the government coalition stable. This confirms the most cynical assumptions about politicians and government.]

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Bananas for the monkeys

From Arun, June 25, 2020
Title: “Pom” accepts an invitation to be the leader of the Palang Pracharath party.
On a flag: Palang Pracharath party
Caption: The owner of the farm

[Refers to Deputy PM Prawit ‘Pom’ Wongsuwan who has now become the leader of the Palang Pracharath Party. This was done so that this top military figure could ensure government stability amid intense infighting for government spoils among its many factions.
The bananas refer to a famous quote from one of key figures in the Palang Prachrath party. He is Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Thamnat Prompao who compared small groups of MPs demanding control of government ministries to monkeys and he said that if you want to control them, you just give them bananas. This was interpreted to mean that money and other perks have to be given out to calm MPs and keep the government coalition stable. This confirms the most cynical assumptions about politicians and government.]

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Stealing the coup memory

From Thairath, June 24, 2020
Title: Keep ribbons tightly and don’t allow anyone to steal it. #SAVE 24 June (B.E) 2475
On ribbon: 24 June (B.E) 2475
Phi Nooring: Being a hooded bandit to steal
Mouse: Even they were stolen, we won’t forget.

[Refers to the mysterious group that has clandestinely removed monuments related to the Siamese Revolution that took place in 1932. Anti-government groups have vowed to remember the 1932 coup as a key moment in the nation’s move to democracy.
See also: The Coup for the Military]

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The coup for the military

From Manager, June 24, 2020
Thailand’s military rulers since the 1932 coup drink a toast to the military men who overthrew the absolute monarchy in 1932: Thanks for building an inspiration for a young generation of revolutionaries like us…
Name tags of the leaders from left to right: Marshal P., Sarit, Thanom, Suchinda, Prayuth
On the wall: 24 June (B.E) 2475 The day of the first coup in Thailand
Caption: Those people… shall celebrate.

[Refers to the Siamese revolution of 1932. It overthrew the absolute monarchy and led to decades of military domination of Thailand.
In recent years (and particularly this year after the disappearance of memorials related to the 1932 coup) there has been a move by anti-government groups to extol the 1932 coup as some sort of important move towards democracy. This idea has been repeated in the local media–mainly without questioning the assumption.
However, the 1932 coup brought the military to power and they have cast a shadow over politics ever since.
The men in the cartoon are the military dictators who ruled the vast majority of time since the 1932 coup–mostly through coups of their own.
They call themselves “revolutionaries” to mock anti-government figures like Thanatorn who style themselves as provocative revolutionaries ready to embrace radical notions.]

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Take all you can!

From Manager, June 18, 2020
On cabinet: Tu Pun Suk.
Table next to yellow cabinet: Four hundred thousand million budget for restoring the economy.
PM Prayuth: Please take them properly… leave some for other people!
Caption: Here also has a Tu Pun Suk.

[Tu Pan Suk is a cabinet where food and other supplies are placed for the poor during this time of need caused by the pandemic. These have sprung up in some provincial areas.
The media has covered several instances of people cleaning out the shelves and leaving nothing for others. This led to a message to the public that people should only take what they need, even though it is free. This message was perplexing for some who appeared genuinely shocked that someone should choose not to take all they could when it was free.
The cartoonist uses this idea to contend that the huge pandemic budget to stimulate the economy was going to be consumed in the same way by rapacious MPs]

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Thaksin’s new politicians are overpriced

From Manager, June 17, 2020
Left: Bag; To take care of you like you are a family member
Pink box: PAO Lumphun
Right: Group; Creative for moving Thailand
Red box: Dubai city [as if Thaksin is sending this care package to Thailand from his home in Dubai]
Caption: Things in bags… are overpriced.

[Refers to the new group called CARE founded by former Pheu Thai and Thai Rak Thai politicians. CARE stands for Creative, Action, Revival and People Empowerment and is made up of Thaksin loyalists.
Across Thai media, this new grouping received an unusual amount of skepticism and ridicule. The group was promoted as a sort of progressive movement in the same way that Thanatorn’s Future Forward Party once was. However, it is composed of technocrat businessmen and politicians who are so close to Thaksin that they have their own nickname–“Thaksin’s brain.” These people did not speak up on progressive issues before nor supported Thanatorn and his new political movement when it was at his height.
The cartoonist jokes that the cost to Thaksin of assembling this new political grouping may not be worth it. It compares the CARE grouping to the scandalously overpriced covid-19 aid bags provided by the Provincial Administrative Organization in Lamphun.]

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I can’t breathe Thai style

From Manager, June 8, 2020
Caption: Thai police don’t use a knee to compress the neck.

[Refers to the case of George Floyd in the U.S., and seems to contend Thai police have other methods of bullying common people. Does anyone know what the plow and iron refer to in the cartoon?]

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I love cobras

From Naewna, June 13, 2020
Sudarat: I hate to raise a cobra.
On the pot close to Sudarat: Pao Thai
On the pot close to Thanathorn: Kaothalai

[Refers to the term “cobra” to mean a person who betrays their group or switches allegiances. It is most commonly used to refer to a politician who betrays their party and moves to other parties for their own benefit.
The cartoonist illustrates an ironic action of Phua Thai’s Sudarat who always said she dis not like cobras. However, her party was alleged to have paid money to attract politicians from the Kaokai (Move Forward Party) established by former Future Forward party led by Thanathorn.
The cartoonist ridicules the parties’ names. He calls the Phua Thai Party the “Pao Thai” as a reference to Thaksin’s Red Shirt agitation in the past and the arson that resulted as “Pao” means “burn.”
The text on the pot close to Thanathorn is “Kaothalai.” It mocks the name of the former Future Forward Party named “Kaokai” or “Moving Forward.” In the cartoon, instead of “Kaokai,” it is “Kaothalai” meaning “slipping.” So instead of using “Kao” (walk or step), it is “Kaothalai” (slipping).]

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Buffet government again

From Naewna, June 4, 2020
Caption: The war of four legs in PALANGPRACHARATH PARTY.
On the dog: PPRP [abbreviation of Palangpracharath party.)

From Thairath, June 4, 2020
Title: Exercise as an appetizer.
Prayuth: One million million loan to restore [the nation] after covid-19
On chairs: PPRP [abbreviation of Palangpracharath party.]
On suits: PPRP [abbreviation of Palangpracharath party.]
Mouse man: Splitting the chairs [the payment] on the special meal.
Mouse: Will not starve.

[Massive spending has always been key to government stability as MPs and MP groupings typically have little ideological leanings. In most cases, they are groupings of regionally based tycoons, power brokers, mafia types (and their offspring) who have banded together to promote their own interests and that of their clans.
Governments always take any opportunity to spend big and those who can control ministries can reap the benefits of overpriced spending and kickbacks which are a ubiquitous part of the Thai world.
In these cartoons, the cartoonists note that the present spending, done under the cover of the pandemic and the emergency decree, has even less oversight that usual.
This has caused massive riffs in the government coalition as cabinet seats are coveted to be able to control this windfall.
The situation has even caused the Phea Thai to further fracture since a party cannot remain on the outside of controlling such large amounts and survive for long.
Adding to this is that the government’s conduct during the pandemic has created a groundswell against the military-led coalition.
All politicians are looking to a future where they can be positioned to be a part of a government both acceptable to the voters and acceptable to a military which has clearly singled it has the resolve to prevent a Thaksin-controlled or Future Forward-type party from gaining control of government.
This will lead to a future government that will not be able to be clearly labelled in one way or another. It will be a stew of non-ideological figures. This is a return to the “buffet cabinets” of Thailand’s boom years before Thaksin and the 1997 people’s charter when personality-based political cliques formed governments and were held together by government spending that ultimately rewarded those in power.]

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