Arun’s “Grand Cycle”

From Arun, June 25, 2014
Cartoon title: Coup d’etat in Thailand on June 25, 2013
From top, clockwise:
1933, Praya Monopakorn suspended some sections of the constitution;
1933, Gen. Praya Phahol seized power from Praya Manopakorn;
1947, Lt. Gen Phin seized power from RAdm. Thawan;
1948, Lt. Gen. Phin forced Mr. Khuang to resign;
1951, Chief Marshal Plaek seized his own power;
1957, Chief Marshal Sarit seized power from Chief Marshal Plaek;
1958, Chief Marshal Sarit seized power from Chief Marshal Thanom;
1971, Chief Marshal Thanom seized his own power;
1976, Chief Marshal Sa-ngad seized power from M.R. Senee;
1977, Adm. Sa-ngad seized power from Mr. Thanin;
1991, Gen. Sundhorn seized power from Gen. Chatchai;
2006, Gen. Sonthi seized power from Thaksin;
2013, Gen. Prayuth returns happiness to people
[... and it starts all over again. The "snake eating its tail" is a Thai metaphor here representing the never-ending cycle of political excess and coups. It also explains the Thai's matter-of-fact acceptance and lack of surprise when these events continue to occur.]

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World book capital?

From Khaosod, June 25, 2014
Caption: City of Readers
On chain: 2557 [2014]
[Refers to the incident which the police charged a student who conducted a symbolic protest again the coup by reading George Orwell’s book ‘1984’ in front of Siam Station. This is ironic as, last year, authorities announced that Bangkok would be a world book capital with the aim to promote reading in the country.]

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Only two Red Shirt rebels?

From Manager, June 24, 2014
Caption: Attention… The government in exile was formed.
From top: Jakrapob Penkhae, prime minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, deputy prime minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, secretary; Jakrapob Penkhae, interior minister; Jakrapob Penkhae, defense minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, transportation minister; Jakrapob Penkhae, commerce minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, finance minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, foreign minister; Jakrapob Penkhae, education minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan; justice minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, energy minister; Jakrapob Penkhae, labor minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, tourism and sport minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, public health minister; Jakrapob Penkhae, industry minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, science minister; Jarupong Ruangsuwan, culture minister; Jakrapob Penkhae; ICT minister
[This ridicules the fact that apparently only two prominent political figures who support Thaksin have followed through with plans to resist the coup.]

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Cleaning up the mess of democracy

From Komchadluek, June 24, 2014
Above the man’s head: Politician
On the small model of Democracy Monument he is holding: Democracy
Above the trash at left: The country’s problems
[This cartoon illustrates a very Thai notion that is not usually apparent to Western observers who simply describe the coup as anti-democratic. The cartoonist shows the military cleaning up problems created by greedy politicians who abused democracy to enrich themselves and rewrite the rules to cement their power. This illustrates a widespread Thai unease with democracy and politicians who are assumed to act for their own interests and underlines the difficulty of building robust democratic institutions in Thailand.]

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Nine Years Ago: Thaksinomics takes the bang out of Bangkok

Nine Years Ago: Thaksinomics takes the bang out of Bangkok

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They think ‘Rose’ is more dangerous to the country than us!

From Manager, June 23, 2014
Thaksin: What!! They think ‘Rose’ is more dangerous to the country than us!!
On the newspaper: May request the UK to extradite ‘Rose’
Caption: This is an insult.
[Refers to talk that Thai authorities would request extradition of Rose Chatwadee, a person who has expressed anti-monarchy sentiment on social media from the UK. The cartoonist chides the junta for not going after the mastermind of Thai politician turmoil--Thaksin Shinawatra.]

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A man who carries the world on his back

From Thairath, June 23, 2014
Title: A man who carries the world on his back.
Phi Nooring: Show his power
A mouse: Return happiness to the people
On the globe: Restructure: vans, motorcycles, taxis; stop corruption, economic problems, protectionism harmonization, dissolve the colors [meaning the political groups supporting and opposing Thaksin], reform boards [of state enterprises], lottery tickets and control energy prices
On right side: Idea by Nam Raengvuth [Thai editorial cartoonists often solicit ideas from the public for cartoons and then give credit like this on the border of the cartoon.]
[After taking power, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) led by army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has announced its commitment to return happiness to the people by solving all the country’s problems. This has created huge expectations that are probably impossible for the military to fulfill.]

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We don’t support people who ‘love reading’

From Thairath, June 22, 2014
Title: We don’t support people who ‘love reading’
Phi Nooring: They allow people to read at home.
A mouse: Please return our freedom.
Papers on the floor: Freedom, equality and brotherhood
[Refers to the incident which a student activist eating sandwiches and reading George Orwell’s 1984 in front of Siam Skytrain station was dragged away by police and arrested due to his symbolic protest against the coup.]

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If we take this off, then we can work easily

From Komchadluek, June 23, 2014
Soldier: If we take this off, then we can work easily.
Above the money the soldier is holding: [Special] Interests
A small word close to the soldier: Graft
[After the military took the power, among their targets were the police force which were seen as being personally loyal to Thaksin and were used as a counterweight to the military. Here, the soldier is hugging a policeman and implying the police are merely influenced by money.]

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Festival of reptiles crawling down into their holes

From Thairath, June 21, 2014
Cartoon title: Festival of reptiles crawling down into their holes
Officer with loudspeaker: Attention… attention… I’m chasing to arrest you guys…
On soldier’s helmet: NCPO [National Council for Peace and Order]
On document’s cover in hands of soldier: Eliminating mafias
On holes, from top left: Mafia; Influential people; Criminals; Shark loans; illegal logging; public land trespassing; Forest trespassing; Illegal lotto; Commuting van mafia, motorcycle taxis; Government lotto mafia; extortion; Corruption
Phi Nooring: For peace
Mouse: Returning happiness
[This cartoon is from Sia (or Zia) whose cartoons have always reflected staunch support of the Red Shirts and their campaigns. Sia was also one of Thaksin's greatest cheerleaders during his time as PM. Thus this post-coup cartoon seeming to cheer the efforts of the military to root out corruption where elected governments have failed is somewhat shocking.
It perhaps reflects the overall Red Shirt mood. The movement is calculating its future in a world where the military is demonstrating they have the will to face down the Red Shirts and any attempt to pardon Thaksin. It may also be a part of a studied ruse by Red Shirt sympathizers to pretend to side with the military while awaiting future elections to propel Thaksin-aligned politicians back into power.]

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For some people happiness is not about watching football or free movie


From Manager, June 22, 2014
Caption: For some people… happiness is not about watching football… or a free movie
From left, Nitcha Thuwatham: If only the legal system can convict the person who killed Brother Romklao, I’ll be happy.
[Col. Romklao Thuwatham was killed during an armed confrontation with the Red Shirts' "men in black" during the political crisis in 2010. Red Shirt leaders such as Seh Daeng later took credit for Romklao's slaying and the military then killed Seh Daeng in a sniper attack. Nitcha is Romklao's widow.]
Angkhana Neelapaijit: If only I knew how lawyer Somchai died and where his body is, I’ll be happy.
[Angkhana is the wife of Somchai Neelapaijit, a lawyer who disappeared mysteriously on March 12, 2004. He was one of many activists who disappeared or was killed during Thaksin's time as prime minister.]
Veera Somkwamkid: If only I can return to family in Thailand… I’ll be very happy.
[Veera is a Yellow Shirt leader who was arrested by Cambodian soldiers near the border in Surin Province on December 29, 2010. He had been touring the border to stir up tensions over the Yellow Shirt issue of border demarcation with Cambodia. On July 1, Cambodia released Veera in what was interpreted as warming relations with the new Thai junta.
The point of this cartoon is to prod the junta to look into these issues as opposed to promoting free World Cup matches or free movie screenings.]

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Reduce the price of lottery tickets

From Komchadluek, June 19, 2014
Above the bull: Mafia
On the cape held by the soldier: Lottery 80 baht
[The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has reduced the price of lottery tickets to 80 baht per pair instead of 100-110 baht as sold by vendors. This is a challenge to cartels who control the lottery and benefit from higher prices. Previously, the lottery tickets were allocated to only small number of wholesalers which then could increase the resale price at the retail level.]

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Weekly News Magazines, June 27, 2014

Nation Weekend_27 June 2014

From Nation Weekend, June 27, 2014
Cover reads: Scripture of victorious warfare
[Reference is to a research report on non-traditional threats written by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha as part of his study at the territorial defense college in 2007. This report has been scrutinized since the coup to shed light on Gen. Prayuth's thinking. It is thought that Thaksin's conduct while PM and his continued influence in politics are perceived by the military as a threat to the very nature of the nation.]

Matichon Weekly, June 27

From Matichon Weekly, June 27, 2014
Cover reads: Uncle ‘Kamnan’ man
[This refers to Suthep's speech made at an exclusive dinner on June 21 to mobilize funds to aid people who are affected by the political demonstrations. In his speech, he stated that Gen. Prayuth discussed the plan to topple the Thaksin regime, and communicated with him before declaring martial law. Gen. Prayuth later denied this and was reportedly very annoyed with Suthep for his statement. The military as repeatedly denied and preplanning or conspiracy related to the coup.
The title on the cover jokes about this. Presently, in Thai there is the term "auntie woman" referring to women over 40 who have bad habits like cutting in line and doing other selfish things.
"Uncle Kamnan man" means that Suthep is like the selfish, impolite "auntie woman" because he foolishly created waves by trying to imply the his movement had been conspiring with the military.
"Kaman" is the head of a tambon in the provincial administrative system and as Suthep started his political career as a kaman, he is often referred to as the kaman.]

ASTV Manager Weekly, June 28

From ASTV Manager Weekly, June 28
Cover reads: Kamnan runs, imagining aloud at the Pacific Club
[Reference is to a speech that Suthep Thuagsuban made at a dinner party on June 21 to mobilize funds for a foundation to help people affected by the political demonstrations. Suthep claimed junta head Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha talked with him about plans to topple the Thaksin regime. Gen. Prayuth denied Suthep's claim. This Manager ridicules Suthep's claims of being in on the army plot.]

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Three Years Ago: One of the wealthiest families in Thailand has convinced the poor that it understands their problems and will fight for their rights

Three Years Ago: One of the wealthiest families in Thailand has convinced the poor that it understands their problems and will fight for their rights

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Super Too, help me…

From Manager, June 19, 2014
People: Super Too, help me… Super Too, help me… Help me please…
Caption: Only one month passed, Super Too is getting tired.
["Too" (or often "Tu") is the nickname of junta chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha. Gen. Prayuth has promised many reforms since seizing power. Many people expect (perhaps unrealistically) that Gen. Prayuth will quickly solve persistent problems and reform the country.]

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Traveling in a forest in Thailand is more dangerous than a forest in Africa

From Thairath, June 19, 2014
Left: Man: Now, traveling in a forest in Thailand is more dangerous than a forest in Africa…
Middle: Man: …please be careful.
A foreigner: Is it a fierce animal?
Right: The police and army find bombs hidden in the forest to avoid being caught by the NCPO.
[The junta announced that anyone who has in their possession war weapons, ammunition for war weapons or explosives, must surrender them to authorities by June 25, 2014or they will be prosecuted. This is part of the post-coup sweep to mop up caches of weapons and bombs to be used for the Red Shirt's promised civil war. Even Pheu Thai Party officials announced on Red Shirt stages that 10 million guns had been amassed by government supporters to ensure Pheu Thai initiatives were not halted. After the coup, loads of illegal weapons were found hidden in forest areas to avoid having them confiscated by the military.]

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Ten Years Ago: Thailand’s New Strongman

Ten Years Ago: Thailand’s New Strongman
…Along the way, the 54-year-old leader has also ridden roughshod over the country’s nascent democracy, independent media and legal institutions, crushing rivals and hounding critics. His high-profile campaigns against drug traffickers and organised criminals have left thousands dead, while hundreds more have been killed in an Islamic insurgency in southern Thailand inflamed by heavy-handed security forces…

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It is not a riot

From Komchadluek, June 17, 2014
Man: It is not a riot. It is an event in which Thais can watch a free movie.
[Refers to the event organized by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which offered people a chance to watch ‘The Legend of King Naresuan 5’ free in the cinema on June 16, 2014 Due to the huge demand for free tickets, there was chaos in many cinemas as people tried to take advantage of the offer.]

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Populism, by Thaksin


From Manager, June 17, 2014
Book title: How to make people love you with populism, by Thaksin
Book spine: Populism, by Thaksin
Caption: There must be some. [meaning there must be some populist programs the junta can use to appeal to the people]
[The military officer is Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of the National Council for Peace and Order. The junta has been criticized for using the same sorts of populist techniques they criticized Thaksin for.]

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Thai Court awards scalded Karen girl compensation–still no charges filed against her Thai captors

Thai Court Awards Abused Karen Girl $140K in Compensation – The Irrawaddy, July 2, 2014
…Preeda said the couple remains on the run and Thai police had made no progress in tracking them down, adding, “We need the police officers to work harder to find this couple…”

Kampaeng Phet Provincial Court awarded 4,603,233 baht as compensation to Girl Air for torture and cruel treatment inflicted on her by her employers – AHRC, July 2, 2014
…According to Air, she was abducted by the former employers of her parents from the residence of her parents in the sugar cane plantation. Since then, she had been forced to serve as a housemaid in the house of Mr. Natee Taeng-on and Miss Rattanakorn Piyaworatham. During her time working with the two employers, she suffered abuses inflicted on her by them until she sustained grievous injuries including some wounds caused by her being poured with boiling water…

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Marcos, Suharto, Thaksin: corrupt leaders who held power through elections

Marcos, Suharto, and then Thaksin? – Rappler.com, July 2, 2014
…Trying to draw parallelisms among the three leaders is a slippery slope. But this view of Thaksin as the ultimate problem that colors Thai politics is a major factor behind the acceptance, relief and support for the May coup – even though coups are an abnormal means of changing a country’s political leadership of in modern times.
Giving his insights into why acceptance of a coup is not uncommon, Nirun Pitakwatchara, a commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Thailand, explained that Thai society “likes to have someone come in (from the outside) and help them”. In an interview, he added: “This is a problem of society that must be corrected…”

Update: A reader adds some perspective: You sent out a link to this article purporting to compare Marcos and Thaksin. But the article doesn’t offer much of a comparison.
I’ve long wondered why no one has written about the parallels between the two leaders. The similarities between Marcos and Thaksin are many. Both were popularly elected and, initially, admired for their intelligence and audacity. Both were later accused of looting the public purse to fund vote buying. Both used populist policies favoring rural voters. Both presided over robust economic growth driven by government borrowing. Both led administrations accused of around 3,000 extrajudicial executions. Both established their own red shirt wearing cult of personality. Both presided over administrations that pinned murder charges on their primary political opponents (Aquino and Suthep/Abhisit).
In 1986, after claiming fraud and voting irregularities, the perpetually losing opposition in Philippines elections walked out of parliament and set up an alternative government. This started what has later been known as the People Power Revolution to bring down the Marcos regime. Marcos eventually fled the country after losing support in the military. I would not be surprised if the Whistleblower leaders studied the People Power Revolution carefully before embarking on their quest to remove Thaksin’s influence on Thai politics.

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Thai traveler outrage at 10,000 baht shopping limit forces customs to remove signs

B10,000 limit on incoming duty free – Duty free limits being strictly enforced

Thai traveler outrage at 10,000 baht shopping limit forces customs to remove signs

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Abandoned 747 Airplane In Bangkok Suburb

Abandoned 747 Airplane In Bangkok Suburb – renegadetravels.com, December 4, 2013

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Same cartoon idea from both pro- & anti-Thaksin cartoonists

From Thairath, June 16, 2014
Title: Migrant workers
A bus on the left: Boards of state enterprises
On the men’s suits: President, Board member, Adviser
A bus on the right: Alien laborers


From Manager, June 18, 2014
Left: Man: Hurry up… The soldiers are coming to catch us.
On the border gate: Thai-Cambodia border
Caption: Cambodian workers
Right: Man: Hurry up… The soldiers are coming to catch us.
Sign above door: The Board’s meeting room
Caption: Boards of State enterprises

[Both cartoons illustrate that both board members of state enterprise and Cambodian laborers are leaving their work due to measures of the military junta. While rumors of a crackdown have caused illegal Cambodian workers to flee, the junta has also been clearing state boards of Thaksin cronies and other political appointees and resolving to improve the transparency and accountability of the organizations.]

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75 Years Ago: ‘Strategic Siam changes its name to Thai’

74 Years Ago: ‘Strategic Siam changes its name to Thai’

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First priority: Root out the Thaksin regime

From Manager, June 15, 2014
Caption: The importance of the first button
The first button: Root out the Thaksin regime
The second button: Reconciliation

[Whether or not an observer believes the political turmoil of the last 10 years is really all about Thaksin (instead of being about elections, democracy, or even the monarchy), the military, by their actions since the coup, are clearly showing their coup is all about destroying Thaksin political influence. This is despite the public line that the military is neutral and wants reconciliation and all sides to just get along.
Update: Also note the better interpretation of this cartoon in the comments section below.]

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Sorry, boss


From Komchadluek, June 16, 2014
Man: Boss, the military officers are successfully returning happiness to Thai people.
[The man is possibly Jarupong Ruangsuwan, former interior minister. He recently resigned from the leadership of the Pheu Thai Party to start an anti-coup organization overseas. The boss he is talking to is Thaksin Shinawatra. As it is incredibly unlikely that a person charged to run the Pheu Thai Party (owned by the Shinawatra family) would not be taking orders directly from Thaksin, the cartoon seems to show a dejected Jarupong reporting to his boss that the military takeover remains popular with people.]

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The military makes the rules

From Thairath, June 13, 2014
Cartoon title: Just walk straight
Next to the line: Judgment of independent organizations and the justice process
On books on heads of the three men walking the line, read from back: Justice
In hand of officer on the right: Fairness
In hands of lawyer in the front: Laws
In hands of man standing behind: Correctness
Phi Nooring: Don’t stray away.
Mouse: Reconciliation must be fair.
[This means that the military will be dictating the terms of rulings for independent organizations and courts. As this cartoonist is pro-Red Shirt, the implication is that, under military rule, these organizations will be doing the military's bidding.]

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NCPO making us happy


From Thairath, June 12, 2014
Left, Ai Joiy: Since NCPO [National Council for Peace and Order] has been established, happiness in listening to the radio has changed…
Middle Ai Joiy: …Now people stop listening to requested songs.
Man on the right: Then what do they listen to?
Right, Ai Joiy: Listening to lists of names of those to have to go to AF camp on NCPO’s request make us happy already.
["AF camp" refers to Academy AF, a reality show singing contest. Since the coup the military has been summoning key political and business people to undergo temporary detention. Many of these have been Red Shirts and others connected with the Thaksin political machine. The cartoonist jokingly says this is like the Academy AF reality show. Surprisingly, after they are released from custody, some of the hardest-line Red Shirts have announced they will now cooperate with the military and forgo other political activity.]

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Failed States Index: Thailand ranks as 10th most-worsened country for 2014

Failed States Index 2014: Somalia Displaced as Most-Fragile State – FFP, June 24, 2014
…Nevertheless, two of the most destabilized countries in the first half of 2014 were registering worsening trends over the past 12 months – along with Ukraine’s worsening, Thailand, another country to experience severe instability this year with its recent military coup, also saw its score slip by 1.9 points in the 2014 FSI, ranking as the tenth most-worsened country for 2014. And among all three countries, Iraq, Thailand, and Ukraine all experienced significantly worsening pressures in the past few years on the key indicators of Group Grievance, State Legitimacy, and Human Rights and Rule of Law. Though this year’s instability of neither Iraq, Thailand, or Ukraine has yet registered in the 2014 FSI, it is clear that they were on the slide even before the current levels of stress took hold. Unless the situation in these countries improves markedly in the next six months, it is reasonable to expect that the scores of all three countries will slip significantly in the 2015 FSI…

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