Jan 19th, 2017

New Year’s Cartoons 2017

From Daily News, December 31, 2016
Monkey: Next time, hopefully it will be a bullet train.
Caption: Good bye, a year of monkey.
On a train: 2559 [2016]
Black box on the top: Regular cartoon by Khaod [The name of the column.]

[Refers to the government’s plan for a bullet train. This train plan was frequently discussed during 2016–or the year of money in the Chinese zodiac. So, this cartoon implies that it is hoped that this project will become reality in 2017.]

From Khaosod, December 31, 2016
Left: Goodbye year ๒๕๕๙ [2016]
Right: Welcome year ๒๕๖๐ [2017]

[Refers to the year of 2016 which is considered as a year of the great loss for Thai people as King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on October 13, 2016. The image is of a famous photo showing a young boy spontaneously bowing before the King.]

From Matichon, December 31, 2016
On the limb: 2559 [2016]
On the tree: 2560 [2017]
On the monkey: Year of monkey

From Arun in Matichon, December 31, 2016
Monkey in the middle: The year of monkey must say goodbye. Good luck, everyone.
Monkey on the left: Hey… why did he put his hands up?
Monkey on the right: You’ll be arrested.

[Refers to the three wise monkeys folktale. It jokes that the monekys, living under the junta, would face arrest if they spoke freely.]

From Post Today, December 31, 2016
From left-right: National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, Head of Economic team Somkid Jatusripitak, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong, Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.
On the tank: The man with a pen is Constitution Drafting Committee president Meechai Ruchupan. We do not know who the next man is.

[This is a more traditional Thai New Year’s editorial cartoon showing the movers and shakers of the year frolicking as the bid farewell to the old year.]

From Siamrath, December 31, 2016
Title: Goodbye 59 [2016]

[The Santa Claus in the cartoon is PM Prayuth who is mocked for freely spending to prop up the economy. At the bottom right seems to be the international symbol for anonymous hackers who relentlessly attacked government websites recently over Thailand’s single gateway plan.]

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The temple as hostage

From Thairath, December 21, 2016
Title: Holding temple’s wall and gates as hostage [meaning the police have closed off the wat entrances in an attempt to apprehend the temple’s abbot]
On the official notice sign: Stolen property under the crime no. 2283/2559. Don’t use, don’t move or doing anything which may cause a loss, damage. If someone violates, he can be charged. Klong Luang police station [This is a police notice to alert people that the temple is under technical seize of the police due to the siege to arrest the temple’s Abbott.]
On the wall: Hundreds of cases; Spreading rumors about Dhammakaya [the cartoonist means that the authorities have wrongly filed many legal cases and spread rumors about the sect]
Phi Nooring: Good people will not do something like this.
A mouse: Monks and novices are in trouble.

[This is an rare cartoon from the Thai-language media that openly supports the Dhammakaya sect in its standoff with the authorities. Most of the media have long ridiculed the eccentric beliefs and behavior of the sect and mocked the police for being unable to arrest its fugitive abbot. He is barricaded in the main Dhammakaya compound with his followers acting as human shields to prevent his arrest.

As Thailand’s economy took off in the 1980s and 1990s, newly affluent Thais were pulled between the traditional (and cultural) Buddhist definition of peace (the rejection of the world and self) and the newly gained financial ability to participate in the decadence of the world. Thus, Dhammakaya sect’s philosophy of buying merit and creating a nirvana-like state inside one’s own self while still being able to partake in luxuries of the world has a special lure for Thailand’s rich and powerful.

The Dhammakaya movement has long been allied with Thaksin and his attempts to undermine Thailand’s existing conservative Buddhist hierarchy. Since Thaksin was deposed it was feared (and billboards put up at strategic times seem to confirm this) that Dhammakaya monks would be recruited to protect the marching Red Shirts in Bangkok.

After the 2014 coup, the junta moved aggressively against the sect. It purged the mainstream Buddhist power structure of Dhammakaya allies and shifted the appointment of the Supreme Patriarch to the King to prevent a Dhammakaya-friendly monk from assuming the post.

Unfortunately for Dhammakaya, Thaksin and the Red Shirts have been entirely focused on making sure elections take place as soon as possible, so, aside from a few expressions of support in Red Shirt circles, there has been no move to mobilize mass action to support the sect. Any activity would provide a pretext for the military to delay future polls.]

Posted in Analysis, Dhammakaya Movement, Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | 1 Comment

Chuwit is BACK!

Above: Image from Chuwit Kamonwisit Facebook page with “I’m Back” in Thai and English.

[Chuwit was pardoned after serving time for being involved in the sudden destruction of a bar area on a piece of land he controlled on Sukhumvit Road. Chuwit’s subsequent publicly seeking antics were parlayed into a successful new career as a politician.
More on Chuwit]

Posted in Chuwit Kamolvisit | 1 Comment

Weekly News Magazines, January 6-20, 2017

From Nation Weekend, January 6, 2017
Main cover reads: I will be a bridge. That day won’t be long.

[The photo shows PM Prayuth (front-row in the center) with his new cabinet. Refers to lyrics from the new song “Bridge” released by PM Prayuth to support his new cabinet. In the song he compares the cabinet to a bridge to help the country to achieve the country’s reforms.]

From Matichon Weekly, January 6-12, 2017

[The cover shows Thailand’s new King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, known as King Rama X. During the New Year, King Rama X together with the royal family gave their new year wishes to the people and asked to people to help bring peace and prosperity to the country.]

From Manager Weekly, January 7-13, 2017
Main cover reads: [Thai] Yoo Tor Loey Dai Mai

[On the cover is Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan (center) PM Prayuth Chan-ocha and cabinet members.
Refers to a karaoke style song. This lyric is part of the song “Yoo Tor Loey Dai Mai” meaning “can you stay longer?” This covers calls the junta to stay in power longer. This publication is anti-Thaksin so they are hoping that the junta will stay in power to continue its reform and to prevent another Thaksin-directed political party from returning to power.]

Top: Revising the monk’s Act. 12 years which ‘Sondhi’ fought to return power to the King

[The man in the photo is media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul who long controlled the Manager media group and was the leader of the yellow shirts. He is presently in prison for corporate fraud.
The article refers to the amendment of the act to appoint a new Supreme Patriarch. It removes the decision from the realm of politics and places it solely with the monarch.
This is thought to be important because Thaksin has long sought to undercut Thailand’s hidebound and reactionary Buddhist hierarchy by engineering the promotion of monks aligned with the heretical Dhammakaya sect.
The current controversy over the appointment of the Supreme Patriarch has become bogged down in rules and protocol as Thaksin foes seek to stop the appointment of a Dhammakaya-friendly monk to the top Buddhist post in Thailand.
This article extols Sondhi since he long fought for this change.]

Bottom left: Good as the actress [yellow] ‘Kratik’ [green] a manager of ‘Tangmo’

[Refers to the story of Kratik, the personal manager of actress Tangmo Pataritda. Her pictures have been shared through the social media as she looks beautiful as the actress she manages.]

Right: Being ruined, ‘Cowgirl’ to restore her pride or leave the stage

[Refers to Ronda Rousey, a much-hyped UFC fighter from Texas, who was soundly and quickly defeated in a recent match. Around the world, fans have pondered if she can reclaim her fighting glory or will move on to other ventures.]

From Lokwannee, January 14-20, 2017
Main cover reads: Challenge the power (of coup d’état). People get in trouble. Yet people still insist to challenge it.
Bottom: Motto for this year of naughty kid’s day: Don’t fight a robber. Don’t sit in a van. Listen to the song ‘bridge.’ Don’t be against the coup d’état, good boy!
White box on the top: Lokwannee [orange] Children’s day

[Refers to National Children’s Day in Thailand which is in the 2nd week of January every year.
This cover obliquely supports the rights of a student activist charged with lese majeste. The activist is Pai Dao Din who is in prison on lese majeste charges. The bamboo refers to Pai since “pai” means “bamboo” in English.
The cover lauds people who continue to resist the junta and traditional elite of Thailand.
The “motto for the year” is a sarcastic take on advice the junta might give to misbehaving children.]

Posted in Thai newspaper headlines | Leave a comment

Inharmonious Train

From Daily News, December 30, 2016
Title: Inharmonious
On the modern Skytrain: Thailand 4.0
On the old train: Computer act

[This contrasts the lofty rhetoric about a modern, advanced Thailand (“Thailand 4.0”) with the realities of the junta’s computer act with is likely designed to allow authorities to regulate freedom of expression online.]

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Heil Thailand

From Thairath, December 27, 2016
Title: Return happiness mission.
From the upper to lower wall: Political party act; media-control act; computer act; combined institution act
Mouse man: The draft law of uncle mustache.
Mouse: The mission is to destroy.

[This criticizes the various initiatives of the junta that restrict freedom of expression and politics. Activists fear this is leading to a nation permanently dominated by the military.]

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Hack my house

From Manager, December 22, 2016
Thai Hacker: Come on… we welcome you from any country, any language… come to hack my house and damage all of it.
Caption: Opening the door to a dangerous foe.

[This criticizes Thai activists who have led the effort to hack government websites to protest the junta’s single gateway plan.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Manager | 1 Comment

Carrying the rich man

From Manager, December 20, 2016
Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, head of Junta’s economic team: Think when you pay your tax… The more energy you put into carrying the rich man, then the more tax you can be reimbursed.
On the sign: Shopping for the country

[Refers to the junta’s policy of “Shopping for the country” which aims to stimulate the economy. Under this policy, people can be reimbursed for their spending for shopping up to 15,000 baht. However, critics charge this only helps Bangkok tycoons who own provincial chain stores like 7-11.]

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Fees for the police

From Thairath, December 17, 2016
Title: They give it to us as a consultant fee, boss.
From upper left to right: Gift from drugs; gift from casino; gift from whorehouse; adviser fees from company private company
From below left to right: Gift from contraband goods; gift from lottery
Mouse man: NCCC [National Counter Corruption Commission] said this is not wrong.
Mouse: It is always hot.

[Refers to the recent high-profile case of a high-ranking police officer who was on the payroll as a consultant of a company. This incident was seized upon in the public mind to illustrate how police officers are easily compromised by “gifts” from various sources.
It has previously been rare for pro-Thaksin/pro-Red Shirt cartoonists (such as this one) to attack the police as the police force is a solid ally of Thaksin and his causes.
However, recent evidence of the compromised nature of the force, as well as the spectacle of the military enforcing laws that the police refuse to enforce, such as beach encroachment, has led to widespread condemnation of the police.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia, Thai Police | 2 Comments

Santa and the crematorium

From Manager, December 30, 2016
At the crematory.
Top left: Why does Thailand make such tiny chimneys?”
Top right: They also make it so high, it’s hard to get down it.
Bottom left: Once I get down there, the present I have brought must have been broken.
Bottom right: Umm.. and it starts to get more hot…
People talking: I closed the crematory and increased the heat.; Oh I see…
[The joke being that, if Santa comes to Thailand, the only chimneys are crematorium vents.]

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Weekly News Magazines, December 31, 2016-January 6, 2017

From Nation Weekend, December 31, 2016
Main cover reads: Under the reign of the King Rama X

[The photo shows new King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.]

From Matichon Weekly, December 31-January 6, 2016
Main cove reads: Strategy of ‘Khlong Luang’ (naja)

[Refers to the strategy of the officers trying to arrest Dhammakaya temple’s abbot Dhammachayo over money laundering charges. The officers attempted to arrest him, but have failed due to the mass of followers blocking the officers. Therefore, the officers have tried to block the temple’s gates to pressure Dhammachayo to surrender. “Klong Luang” is a district where the Dhammakaya temple is located. “Naja” is a suffix used in Thai by females to indicate politeness. The male abbot Dhammachayo uses the feminine term himself and is often mocked by the media for this affectation. Thus the headline jokingly refers to the seige that is going on around the area of the temple compound.]

Top left: Goodbye year of the monkey and happy [greetings] to the “a year of the rooster”
[Refers to change of the new year from the year of monkey in the Chinese zodiac to the year of rooster.]

From Manager Weekly, December 31-January 5, 2016
Main cover reads: Rising star-Falling star 2560 [2017]

[The cover refers to the new year astrological predictions of prominent people [clockwise]: PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, former PM Yingluck Shinawatra, actress Chermarn Boonyasak, actor Nadech Kugimiya, actress Davika Hoorne, actor Mark Parin, actress Pachrapa Chaichua, football player Chanathip Songkrasin, Thai football manager Kiatisuk Senamuang, professional golfer Ariya Jutanugarn]

From Lokwannee, December 31, 2016-January 6, 2017
Main cover reads: Certainly will have an election in the year 59 [2016], 60 [2017], 61 [2018]
Above the bus: I drive following the road map. Certainly you can trust us.
On the bus: Democracy 99-99

[Refers the junta’s continuous shifting dates for having new elections. Many groups have raised concern that the junta may not follow the previously offered road map of having elections this year.
This cover compares the junta’s promise to van no. 99-99. This van recently had a terrible accident that caused many to die. Those who oppose the junta have often raised this threat of future death and discord resulting if the military does not return to democracy soon. This counters the junta’s claim that polls show that the public is tired of politicians and is happy to see the military in power and enforcing laws.]

Posted in Thai Newspapers and Magazines | Leave a comment

Please let us arrest him!

From Manager, December 19, 2016
Left, Dhammakaya’s followers: Don’t let them arrest Luong Pho… Don’t let them arrest Luong Pho.. Don’t let them arrest Luong Pho…
Caption below: Are praying…
Right, police: I can arrest Luong Pho… I can arrest Luong Pho… I can arrest Luong Pho… I can arrest Luong Pho… [meaning they hope they can apprehend him]
Caption below: Also are praying

[The police have attempted to arrest Dhammakaya temple abbot Dhammachayo over a money laundering case. However, their attempts have been thwarted many times due to Dhammachayo’s followers acting as human shields.
The Thai word “Luong Pho” mimics “Luang Pho” meaning “respected elder monk.” However, in the cartoonist’s view, Dhammachayo is not respected and does many weird things. So, the cartoonist changes the word to “Luong” means “lost” implying that the monk is lost from Buddhist principles.]

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Pride and money comes at the same time

From Thairath, December 16, 2016
From bottom left to bottom right: Salary, Money awarded from politics, Advisor to private companies, Bribes
Phi nooring: Drunk by money, power and pride
A mouse: Do you have morals?
Caption: Pride and money (comes at the same time)

[This shows the many avenues that allow police officers to become wealthy. Specifically it refers to a top officer in the force who has come under fire for being under contract as a consultant to a company while he was on the force, creating a possible conflict of interest.
As this cartoonist is pro-Thaksin and pro-Red Shirt, it is a relative rarity to see cartoons from him criticizing the Royal Thai Police. The police have long been personally loyal to Thaksin and Thaksin has been adept at maintaining relationship with top men in the force. However, recent incidents have laid bare the compromised nature of the police force and provoked criticism from across the political spectrum.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia, Thai Police | 1 Comment

Fox with a jar on his head

From Khaosod, December 16, 2016
At the top of the jar: Dhammachayo
On the jar: Mass of people

[We are not sure about the reference to the cartoon, but it is likely to a parable as it shows a fox trying to get at another fox in a jar on his head.
This implies that Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhamamachayo uses people as human shields to help escape legal cases.]

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Cobra or the Indian?

From Naewna, December 15, 2016
Left: I’m just a cobra from the story where I would bite a farmer.
Caption: See a snake
Middle: I’m just an Indian providing loans and receiving interest, but I’ve never forced anyone to borrow money from me.
Caption: See an Indian person
Right: I’m the coolest person who used to visit heaven and talk with Steve Jobs… Oops!!!
Caption: See a bald person. Old people said we can hit it because it will pervert religion. When you die [after doing this], then you will be in heaven for sure!!!

[Refers to the Thai proverb that “when you meet a snake and an Indian person along a road, you should hit the Indian first.” This means that Indian people are more dangerous than snakes. This prejudice comes from the perception that, in the past, Indians were often loan sharks.
However, the cartoon jokingly adds that even more dangerous than Indians is Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhammachaya who uses the monkhood to take advantage of people. The cartoon references Dhammachaya’s bizarre claims that he can visit heaven and one time while he was there he met Steve Jobs.
More: The Weird Claims of Dhammakaya]

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Buffalo-Surrounded Pagoda

From Manager, December 15, 2016
Title: Pagodas in different periods
Left: Chang Lom Pagoda
[Wat Chang Lom is a Thai famous temple. In English, its name means “surrounded by elephants.”]
Right: Buffalo-surrounded pagoda
[Refers to Dhammakaya temple using their followers as human shields to impede officers from arresting Dhammakaya’s abbott Dhammayachao who is facing a money laundering charge.
To refer to a person as a “buffalo” is an insult meaning they are stupid. It has often been used to characterize Thaksin’s Red Shirt supporters. Here it is used to imply that, like Thaksin, Dhammayachao is using gullible country people to protect himself from legal consequences.]

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What’s really behind Thailand’s hostility to Chinese tourists?

What’s really behind Thailand’s hostility to Chinese tourists? – SCMP, December 30, 2016
…Thailand is hardly the only country where there has been criticism of Chinese tourists. Japanese media this year called for “Chinese-only zones” to limit instances of what it considered poor etiquette. Anger boiled over again last week after reports of scuffles between stranded Chinese tourists and Japanese police. Vietnam, meanwhile, has stated it may expel Chinese tourists following a viral video showing a tourist misbehaving with a banana vendor…

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Donald Trump: America’s Berlusconi (or Thaksin, or Hariri, or…)

Donald Trump: America’s Berlusconi (or Thaksin, or Hariri, or…) – opendemocracy.net, December 29, 2016
…What is most troubling about the Thai and Lebanese episodes are the tycoons’ divisive legacies. Saad Hariri led the “March 14” coalition against “March 8” around Hizballah. The two parties brought Lebanon to the brink of civil war. Post-coup politics in Thailand saw popular mobilisation and violence between “red shirts” supporting Thaksin and “yellow shirts” opposing him.
Trump may turn out to be the most dangerous tycoon yet, and not only because the USA are so powerful. Saad Hariri and Thaksin Shinawatra used divisive popular mobilisation only after they had come under violent attack through an assassination and a coup respectively. What sets Trump apart from the other billionaire politicians is that divisive race and gender politics are at the very heart of his project…

Posted in 2Bangkok News | Leave a comment

Thailand’s censorship

From Thairath, December 14, 2016
Title: Do nothing wrong… …do not be afraid
Upper left: Threaten. Persecute.
Lower left: Computer ACT.
Upper right: Sue.
Lower right: Violate people’s right.
Mouse man: haunting.
Mouse: cyber devil.

[This cartoon comments on the single internet gateway in Thailand. This plan is thought to be a way for Thai authorities to both censor the internet and oversee users’ activities online.
Pro-Red Shirt and anti-junta internet users in particular have come under legal scrutiny by the government for anti-monarchy and anti-junta comments.]

Posted in Censorship, Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | 1 Comment

University hostages

From Komchadluek, December 13, 2016
Above the man at right: Senior
On the paper: Statement of rup nong

[“Rup nong” is a university ceremony for incoming freshman. These have developed into elaborate and humiliating hazings for new students. We think the cartoon is a comment on the hazing, comparing the ceremonies to violent terrorism.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Komchadluek | 1 Comment

Facebook Safety Check scares Bangkok with false report of bomb

Facebook Safety Check scares Bangkok residents with false report of major explosion – The Independent, December 27, 2016
Facebook is warning people about a fake explosion in Bangkok, falsely suggesting that the entire city is at risk.
The site has activated its “Safety Check” feature across Thailand’s capital. That means that anyone it thinks is in the area will see a message informing them that there has been “an explosion”, and encouraging them to mark themselves safe from it…

Posted in 2Bangkok News | Leave a comment

Thai Tom and Jerry

From Arun, December 13, 2016
Title: Arrest warrant of “Dhammachayo” from 13-16th December.

[This refers to the long-delayed attempt to apprehend Dhammachayo who is avoiding arrest in a temple surrounded by adherents acting as human shields. The media has been pillorying Thai authorities for their inability to capture the fugitive monk.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons – Arun | Leave a comment

Stop hurting Thai people’s hearts

From Naewna, December 7, 2016
Title: Fucking media..!! Stop hurting Thai people’s hearts.
Above the money: Fake news about the royal family.
On the nose: BBC Thai

[This cartoon from the very rabidly pro-establishment Naewa refers to a profile of new King Rama X published on BBC Thailand. Complete dispassionate reporting about Thai royalty is almost never the norm within Thailand. Many international news organizations tended to report on both the death of Rama IX as well as the new King in nearly editorial terms, judging the institution itself and prescribing Western-style advice on changes to be made. Authorities launched an investigation into whether BBC violated Thailand’s law prohibiting insulting the king.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons, Lese Majeste, The Monarchy | Leave a comment

Weekly News Magazines, December 16-23, 2016

From Nation Weekend, Dec 16, 2016
Main cover reads: Dhammakaya Party naja

[Refers to the attempt of the Department of Special Investigate (DSI) to arrest Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhammachayo. The DSI has not accomplished its mission because Dhammachayo’s followers have acted as human shields to impede the officers.
The cover headline indicates that the movement is practically its own political party with followers used to further the narrow goals of the leader–bringing to mind Thaksin and his Red Shirts.
In both cases, the besieged party dares the authorities to act violently against it and even seems to relish the prospect of martyrs for its cause.
The word ‘naja’ is the ending Thai word used by females to indicate politeness. However, Dhamachayo, though a male monk, has the affection of using this female suffix to sentences when he speaks. Thus, the cover can be read as if Dhamachayo himself is introducing his political party.]

Top-right: ‘Vasit Dejkunjorn’ [yellow] follows aspirations of ‘Dhammaraja’

[Refers to former police and well-known author Vasit Dejkunjorn who pledged to follow King Rama X’s wishes to help the country. “Dhammaraja” means “the King who has Dhamma in his life” and in this context means H.E. King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed away in October 2016. Vasit is known as a person who was very close and trusted by King Rama IX.]

From Matichon Weekly, Dec 16-22, 2016
Main cover picture: His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun

From Lokwannee, December 17-23, 2016
Main cover reads: Peekaboo!!
On the desktop: Draft Development of Digital for Economy and Society Act and Draft Organic Law on the Political Party Act.

[This cover raises concern about censorship due to the new computer regulations proposed by the junta.]

From ASTV/Manager, December 17-23, 2016
Largest words on the cover: Foul naja.
[This cover criticizes Dhamamka’s abbott Dhammachaya for calling on his followers to act as human shields to stop the officers from arresting him.
The word ‘naja’ is the ending Thai word used by females to indicate politeness. However, Dhamachayo, though a male monk, has the affection of using this female suffix to sentences when he speaks.]

Top: Cabinet reshuffle? [white] spreading the rumor that Uncle Pom wants to take a break.
[Refers to a rumor that the most powerful person in the government, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan (whose nickname is Pom), would be removed from the cabinet in an upcoming reshuffle. PM Prayuth denied that Prawit would be sidelined.]

Bottom left: Look at a sexiness of ‘Aum’ [white] and her new man.
[Refers to famous and sexy star Pacharapa Aum Chaichua and her boyfriend.]

Right: Deep story! Seek on Vihok news. The price which a new actor has to pay.
[The man is Terdsak Jiamkijwattana, a pro-monarchy activist. The article is about new actors and the challenges they face.]

Posted in Thai Newspapers and Magazines | Leave a comment

Martyrs for a cause

From Manager, December 12, 2016
Title: The fates of a lotus under the water.
Left: Being a food for a turtle
Middle: Being a place for a turtle to hide
Right: Being a target for shooting to create chaos.

[This illustrates the different fates of Dhammakaya temple supporters.
In Buddhism, there are four levels of an individual’s development which are compared to the levels of a lotus in the water. The lotus under water is the lowest group which cannot be taught to be enlightened and has no future. The cartoonist contends that Dhammakaya supporters, by following the temple’s unusual tenants, are like the lotus under water.
In the cartoon, the turtle is supposed to be Dhammakaya’s fugitive abbot Dhammachayo who is hiding out to avoid arrest.
In the first panel Dhammakaya supporters are food for the abbot (due to their lavish donations).
In the second they are the human shields which the abbot is using to avoid arrest.
And in the final panel they pawns to be shot down and killed in any confrontation to arrest the monk.
This refers to a Thai way of conceptualizing protest as an attempt to create martyrs for a cause. This implies that the Dhammakaya temple siege (like the Red Shirt protests in the past) are opportunities where deaths would be beneficial. Then the deaths are cited as proof that the authorities’ position is not legitimate and thus all must be pardoned to maintain peace in the country’s metaphorical village.]

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Arrested for providing a place for a criminal to hide

From Manager, December 7, 2016
Left: Police officer: You have been arrested for providing a place for a criminal to hide.
Man: What is your evidence?
Right: You’ve already confessed that you have Dhammachayo in your heart.
Caption: Can notify them with this charge…

[Refers to Dhammakaya temple’s faithful supporters who have been summoned to the main Dhammakaya temple where former abbot Dhammachayo is hiding out to avoid a court summons over money laundering charges. Supporters are acting as human shields to stop authorities from arresting Dhammachayo.
The joke here is that Dhammakaya faithful, by steadfastly believing in the temple doctrine (having it in their hearts) is also providing a place (their hearts) for the fugitive monk to hide.]

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The real reason people are poor

From Thairath, December 2, 2016
Title: Being in the world’s ranking since a long time. [refers to a survey that shows Thailand’s relatively low ranking on a list of income distribution equality in various countries]
On the coin bags: Businessmen, military and elites mostly dominate country’s resources. [Those four bags have to be combined in order to read the whole sentence across the bags.]
On peoples’ shirts: A gap in Thai society
On the ground: Majority of people in the country
Phi Nooring: Made a little merit in the previous life
A mouse: A class-divided society

[This pro-Thaksin/pro-Red Shirt cartoonist notes that the economy is dominated by a few people who monopolize the country’s resources and power.
The cartoonist makes the joke that all the people who have ended up poor must have gotten that way because they did not accumulate enough good karma in past lives. However, the clear implication is that the Thai system is unfair and this is why most are poor.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | 1 Comment

Warning of a future crisis

From Thairath, December 8, 2016
Title: Let me tell you again, this is the crisis in the near future.
Constitution drafter Meechai is wearing tie with CDC [Constitution Drafting Committee] and holds the constitution plinth.
Mouse man: We know this too well and it still makes a fool of people…
Mouse: …the entire nation.

[Deputy Prime Minister Prawit, probably the most powerful person in the government, recently noted that, if there was a crisis or other unsettled political condition in the country, elections could be further delayed.
This was a warning that the military would not tolerate pro-Thaksin protests or other anti-junta agitation. It also shows the relative confidence of the government in even suggesting that a delay could be possible.
The cartoonist suggests the only real crisis that could delay elections is military tyranny (symbolized by the boot in the shadow).]

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

Thaksin’s nightmare: He still can’t get rid of Prem

From Manager, December 8, 2016
Thaksin thinks: Going back home without carrying any cases. [meaning Thaksin’s main goal of returning to Thailand after having his legal cases dismissed is fading as he realizes the Privy Council is not appreciably changing]
Thaksin holds a Manager newspaper with the headline: Appointing Prem Tinsulanonda as head of the advisory council to the King.
Caption: News that is breaking his dream.

[Shortly after the first coup that ousted Thaksin from power in 2006, Thaksin was recorded telling supporters that the coup was because of a disagreement he had with Privy Council President Prem.

Since then, Thaksin’s actions, and the actions of the Red Shirts, can be seen as a long, drawn out attempt to pressure or threaten Prem in one way or another.

The first Red Shirt mass action was a surprise strike attacking Prem’s residence in 2007. Red Shirt publications, from the mainstream to the most radical, constantly attacked Prem as their greatest enemy.

Red Shirt faithful reacted in horror when Yingluck was sent to fawningly greet Prem in 2012 (Yingluck attempts detente with Privy Council President Prem and Yingluck Sent to Honor Prem). This reinforced the growing belief that the Red Shirt movement itself was simply a bargaining chip for Thaksin and his family.

The cartoonist alludes to the fact that a new monarch has the ability to appoint his own Privy Council from scratch. Thaksin must have surely hoped that Prem (as well as other generals who oppose him like Gen. Surayut) might have been removed from their posts in a Rama X era.

However, the composition of the new Privy Council demonstrates that the existing nexus of powers remains intact and that Thaksin’s return to power will continue to be blocked. See also: Weekly News Magazines, December 9-16, 2016]

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Handouts to rural people end up helping who?

From Manager, December 6, 2016
Someone from CP Group/7-11 calls government minister Somkid Jatusripitak (pictured) and says to him: Brother Guang [nickname of Somkid], when will the money you give to the poor arrive at my store?
Sign behind the woman: Informal debt repayment. [This means something like “loan shark” and refers to the constant small loans taken out by rural people from local gangs. The woman and the man beside her are stereotypical images of rural loan sharks.]

[Somkid Jatusripitak is a respected economic expert, once a founding member of Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party and now a member of the junta.
This cartoon refers to government policy to improve the economy by giving money directly to the poor to stimulate spending. The cartoonist points out that this policy will have little impact on the lives of rural people.
Those receiving money will likely have it siphoned off by the local loan shark industry. If it is spent elsewhere, the money will go to chain stores like 7-11 which lines the pockets of rich Bangkok billionaires.
The issue of fighting the loan shark industry has been taken up by most governments with little apparent success. Not only do informal lenders seek to entangle the poor in debt, but rural people seem eager to take out such loans with little regard for the eventual repayment.
Earlier links:
Fighting the load sharks during the Yingluck era: Loan sharks and rural debt in Thailand
And microfinance during Thaksin’s time in power (this program in particular caused wide alarm in politics as the program was seen as merely a slush fund that would cause village leaders to be beholden to Thaksin’s political machine): When Thailand’s government started offering microfinance loans to villagers, did anyone benefit?]

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