Mar 9th, 2017

A mouth keeps speaking

From Thairath, February 19, 2017
Title: The mouth keeps speaking [meaning something like the rhetoric says reconciliation, but the reality is different]
Soldier on the left: Reconciliation
Soldier on the right: Reform
On sign held by man with glasses: Being slandered
On sign held by man at far left: False charges
Phi Nooring: Will be able to have reconciliation in this lifetime?
A mouse: [They] Love to use power

[Refers to the junta saying they want reconciliation. However, they then aggressively confront the Dhammakaya sect by trying to arrest its abbot.]

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Once the tallest building in Thailand, the Dusit Thani Hotel will be demolished

Bangkok’s Dusit Thani Hotel Gets Date With Wrecking Ball –, March 7, 2016
…Once the tallest building in Thailand, the Dusit Thani Hotel will be demolished and replaced with a complex consisting of a hotel, residences, an office space, a shopping mall and green space, according to the announcement. The 36-billion baht project is a partnership between the hotel group and Central Pattana, which owns 30 shopping malls nationwide under the Central brand…

More: Bangkok’s tallest buildings over the years
Also: The Phra Ya Sombat Phaisan Building

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Suan Dusit Poll: Using Article 44

[The junta’s absolute power under Article 44 has recently come under seemingly coordinated attack as the authorities try to capture the fugitive abbot of Wat Dhammakaya.
Most often Article 44 has been condemned for being dictatorial while, at the same time, people press the junta to use it before democracy returns and the window for reform ends.
Below is a translation from Suan Dusit Poll on the public’s preferences for the junta to use the military’s special power.]

More on Article 44:
2017: Everyone wants to use Article 44!
2016: Article 44 got dull
2015: Prayuth: “I cannot use Article 44 to solve every problem” after pressed to solve EU concerns on fishing
2015: Pressuring the PM to use his absolute power: Everyone loves Article 44
2015: The Withering of Article 44
2015: The power of Article 44 won’t last for long
2015: It is important to realize that the military does not really have absolute power. Power in the Thai world is highly decentralized and it is extremely difficult for the military to control everything. In the following case, the police refused to strip Thaksin of his rank as ordered by the military by throwing up procedural hurdles. The use of Article 44 to strip Thaksin of his rank in this case demonstrated the failure of the junta to to be able to control the police: Bypassing official channels, Prayuth uses Article 44 to strip Thaksin of his rank

Suan Dusit Poll: Using Article 44
March 1, 2017

Since Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, the Prime Minister and the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has used his power through the Article 44 of the interim Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, BE 2557 to reconcile, maintain peace and suspend and prevent potential offenses occurring in the country, there is still the criticism about the use of the Article 44 from those who are satisfied and dissatisfied. To reflect the people’s views, Suan Dusit Poll by Suan Dusit University conducted the survey of people across the country with the total of 1,180 people during February 20-24 February 2017. The results are as follows:

1. Which the use of the Article 44 satisfies the public the most?
1st Suppress corruption 86.61%
2nd Suppress influential people and the mafia 80.68%
3rd Suppress [illicit] drugs 74.83%
4th Police appointment and rotation 72.03% [meaning to prevent the widespread buying of police promotions and stopping appointments to benefit political parties–both characteristics of Thaksin-controlled governments which the junta opposes]
5th Organize society 68.47% [various acts for the perceived good of society]

2. Besides the existing Article 44 uses, what else does the public want the Article 44 to be used for?
1st Manage welfare to cover from birth until retirement 78.30% [meaning to create a social welfare system]
2nd [Combat] Violent crimes causing a terror to society 73.81%
3rd Solve traffic problems, urban development, mass transit systems 62.71% [the junta has forced through dozens of long-delayed mass transit plans–this is particularly disheartening to political parties which have long used the approval of such plans to reward business allies and kick back money into the party]
4th Deal with issues that impact natural resources and the environment 61.78% [the junta has been doing the opposite of this in some areas–particularly forcing local communities to accept the construction of coal-fired power plants in their area]
5th [Regulate] Youth behaviors, such as fighting, gaming addiction and incorrect use of social media 55.76%

3. What do the people want to ask Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the PM and the head of the NCPO, to take into account for using the Article 44?
1st Use this special power with transparency and justice 82.97% [this is also the claim of the junta itself which claims it only uses the power in a transparent way to benefit the country]
2nd Carefully use and consider about the pros and cons of it 75.25%%
3rd Seriously and decisively use for a concrete outcome 67.46%
4th Clarify to the public on the background and the reasons for using Article 44 60.68%
5th Use for solving special cases–not using it repetitiously [using it too much] 58.29%
Suan Dusit Poll

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Making Yellow and Red love each other

From Manager, February 13, 2017
Cupid Pom [Cupid Pom is Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan who is pushing the reconciliation plan.]: Your rose arrows… will not make these two fall in love with each other… back off and let me do it!
Caption: This Valentine’s… Cupid Pom wants to show…

[This references the attempts to force pro- and anti-Thaksin factions to reconcile. In practice this means both sides agree to rules of conduct and accept military enforcement of this agreement.
In the wider context of Thai history, it foreshadows a future where misbehaving parties can expect to be “liquidated” by the military. This is in keeping with the military’s self-appointed role as the “protector of the nation” and Thai attitudes about protest.
Not only is protest considered a shameful breach of the normal unity of society, but the fact that the Red Shirts in particular are obviously directed by a politician for his own benefit would lead the military to categorize them as insincere hired hands that can be dealt with harshly.
The Yellow Shirt faction has also long been under pressure too for steadfastly resisting any concessions at all for Thaksin. Even during the previous Pheu Thai-led government, anti-Thaksin forces were on guard against any efforts to bring Thaksin into reconciliation efforts.
The present junta realizes that in some way Thaksin must be assuaged and thus it needs to bring the Yellow Shirts under control to allow an eventual solution that includes Thaksin.
Despite any promises for a return to democracy, no elections will be held until the present military junta feels that have cowed all political factions into binding reconciliation agreements.]

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Black May for Dhammakaya temple?

From Thairath, February 23, 2017
Title: May I ask for alms, please.
On the monk’s yellow robe: Dhammakaya temple
On a military’s hand: Article 44 [holding the arm of the news media meaning they are controlling infomation]
On man’s hand: A mission of IO.
Phi Nooring: Models of 6 Oct 19 and May 53…
Mouse: People who love sadism.

[Refers the junta’s attempt to arrest Dhammakaya temple’s abbot Dhammachayo and controlling information by the Information Operation (IO). THis has been the claim of Wat Dhammakaya and its followers.
The cartoonist implies that this is leading to a mass killing of monks at the temple like previous political incidents of October 6, 1976 and Black May in 1992 when the military gunned down protesters.]

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The future is coal-fired power plants

From Thairath, February 17, 2017
Title: The goal is for the future.
On the flag: A coal-fired power plant in the South
On the small model held by PM Prayuth: Clean, Modern, High technology
Words on four people at bottom right representing typical southern people: Security of the power generation
On man biting PM Prayuth’s leg: Local politicians
On man next to him: Groups who have a benefit [meaning vested interests that might oppose the power plant plan]
On the NGO man: Against the power plant
Phi Nooring: Don’t wait until the day with a blackout.
On the mouse: Develop the South.

[Refers to the junta’s controversial plan to build coal-fired power plants in the southern province, Krabi, under the national power development plan.
This plan is opposed by many groups due to the concern on environmental impact on local residents.
This pro-Red Shirt and pro-Thaksin cartoonist seems to support the plan, possibly because it is creating dissension between the junta and anti-Thaksin, pro-Democrat Party people in the Thai south.]

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The prime minister wants coal-fired power plants!

From Thairath, February 15, 2017
Title: Decide… for happiness
Paper in PM Prayuth’s hand: A future of coal-fired power plants in the South.
Left, poster held by a man on the top: Want to use the electricity, but don’t want the power plant
Poster held by a man at the bottom left: Against the power plant
Poster held by a man close to PM Prayuth: Don’t want a coal
Mouse: Please help to develop the South
Phi Nooring: Before didn’t have electricity
Right, poster held by the woman: Want the power plant
Sign in from of the power plant: Clean power plant
Posters help by the children: (left) Reduce the risk. Electricity fee is decreased. (right) Strengthen the security of power utilization.
Boy in the boat: Safe

[Refers to the controversial junta plan on to push through the building of coal-fired power plants in Krabi, a southern province heavily reliant on tourism.
This is opposed by many groups including local people, NGOs and other environmental activists.
This cartoon is from a pro-Red Shirt and pro-Thaksin cartoonist. His treatment of the power plant issue, which has ignited protests from areas that generally oppose Thaksin and his political parties, is unusually neutral in tone and even positive towards the junta.
It could be because the government’s push for the power plants threatens to alienate junta supporters in the southern part of the country.]

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Weekly News Magazine, February 17-March 2, 2017

From Matichon Weekly, February 17-23, 2017
Main cover reads: Flowers at the end of a gun

[Refers to the reconciliation plan headed by Gen. Chalermchai Sitthisart, the army chief. It appears that the military is forcing all groups to agree to the plan and to army enforcement of their commitment.]

From Nation Weekend, February 10, 2017
Main cover reads: Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhist group

[Refers to Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, an abbot of Wat Ratchabophit, appointed by the King Rama X as the 20th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand. The article explains that the public welcomes this ordination and hopes the new Supreme Patriarch will help recover the image of Buddhism after the controversies surrounding the Dhammakaya sect.]

From Manager Weekly, February 18-24, 2017
Main cover reads: Joy of trust

[Refers to Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, an abbot of Wat Ratchabophit, appointed by the King Rama X as the 20th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand.]

Below left: “Article 44” ends “Tammy” – Dhammakaya falls from the heaven of “the Trayastrimsa” – It’s time to reform religion

[Refers to the junta’s decision to use its absolute power under Article 44 to apprehend Dhammakaya’s abbot Dhammachayo who has been evading arrest on money laundering charges.
“Tammy” is the nickname the media uses for Dhammachayo. It changes the word “Dhamma” to the feminine “Tammy” to ridiculae the monk’s eccentric use of the female suffice “ka” in speech.
“Trayastrimsa” is the name of the second heaven in Buddhist cosmology where the gods live.]

Below right: Big Tik of the NLA receives a monthly salary, but works like a part-timer.

[Refers to the absence of Prayuth’s brother, Gen. Preecha Chan-ocha (nicknamed “Tik”), from the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) despite his receiving a generous salary. According to assembly regulations, a member who fails to appear for over one-third of votes in 90 days will be removed. However, the assembly’s acting secretariat said that Gen. Preecha had permission not to attend due to other assignments.
The point of the criticism is that it appears that the junta is giving high-paying jobs to friends and family members who do not serve any real function.]

From Lokwannee, February 25-March 2, 2017
Main cover reads: Is there any hidden agenda?
Paratrooper: No one pays attention on the news about my parachute. Ha ha ha
On the parachute: NLA

[The word “parachute” in Thai can be used to mean skipping a class, a meeting, or work. This refers to PM Prayuth’s brother, who is a high-paid member of the junta’s legislature, but who never attends meetings of the body. This leads to accusations that it is giving no-show jobs it family members. The covers implies that the timing of the raids on the Dhammakaya temple are meant to divert attention from this scandal.]

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Cancel 112

From Naewna, February 10, 2017
On the paper on PM Prayuth’s back: Cancel section 112 [referring to Thailand’s strict lese majeste law]
On the sword: UN
Caption: The message to show concern from friends… to friends… !!

[Refers to the unusually frank UN condemnation of Thailand’s lese majeste law. The cartoonist is protesting the criticism of Thailand’s laws by the international body. Thais traditionally assume that, like ASEAN, international bodies should refuse to comment on the activities of any certain country.]

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Trampling on those who died for the cause

From Manager, February 7, 2017
On the tombstone: Gen. Romklao [along with his date of both and death which are too small to read here]
On the flag: Reconciliation [this word is also used to mean “harmony”]

[This shows the many groups involved in the junta’s reconciliation plan following Deputy PM Prawit’s banner of “harmony.” As they march, they trod over the grave Col. Romklao (posthumously promoted to general) who was gunned down supposedly by “men in black” during a pitched battle between the military and armed Red Shirt protesters in 2010.

These men in black were a conspicuous part of Red Shirt protests displaying their weaponry and were often seen at the front lines resisting attempts to disperse their protests in Bangkok.

The cartoonist is chiding the junta for ignoring the deaths of its own in a rush to create harmony. The Manager/ASTV newspaper in particular has often harshly attacked the military when it feels it might seek a political peace that includes a pardon for Thaksin and an absolving of the Red Shirts.

It has been difficult to assign legal culpability for actions taken during the Red Shirt sieges of Bangkok. When Thaksin-directed governments are in power, legal cases against Red Shirts are dropped or dismissed and charges are drummed up against opposition parties. When Thaksin-directed governments are out of power, the reverse happens, and the Red Shirts and Thaksin-allied politicians find themselves under legal threat again.

In all of this the military is essentially immune from legal action. The military has a self-appointed role as the protector of the nation and will brook no oversight of its decisions. Perhaps even more consequential, all sides seek to ally themselves with the army to some extent to provide backup and stability for their political ambitions.

Implicit in the Thai conceptualization of harmony (or reconciliation) is the idea that the attainment of harmony means no one is blamed and the past is forgotten. This is why activists react so strongly when these ideas are brought up. They know harmony and reconciliation mean unconditional forgiveness no matter who did what or if any wrong was done. It means protest-related deaths will remain forever unsolved. It also lays bare political groups like the Red Shirts as hungering after martyr’s deaths so they can be traded away in a future amnesty deal that absolves all sides as long as their political goals are met.

But those who protest amnesty are the minority. They are pushing back against the wider, more dominant themes of their culture. These beliefs are quite different than the beliefs assumed to be simply common sense by the Western world.

Western beliefs that free speech is the highest value and that the open airing of truth is cathartic do not apply here. The Thai focus on unity means that deference and the careful editing of one’s speech is thought to be very important. Blaming and any open discussion of issues that might cause others to “lose face” is believed, in the Thai world, to cause a violent and unreasoning reaction. To prevent this, the open truth-telling of the West is to be avoided in the name of preserving the unity of the nation’s metaphorical village. This is the impulse that underlies Thailand’s “forgive and forget” reconciliation plans over the years.

The desire for unity and Thai-style reconciliation means that during future political squabbles the army or political pressure groups like the Red Shirts will again be incentivized to provoke situations to create martyrs for their cause. This is with the aim of insisting that only a pardon or amnesty will solve the situation and usher in a political reset devoid of any finger-pointing or justice for those who died in the process.]

See also: Analysis: Thailand’s Half Democracy Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.

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Dog barks at airplane

From Manager, February 6, 2017
Sign around the dog’s neck: NACC (National Anti-Corruption Commission)
On the plane: Rolls-Royce bribery
Caption: Dog barks at airplane.

[“Dog barks at airplane” is a saying that means something is trying to impact something that is beyond their reach.
The cartoon ridicules local efforts to combat corruption as Thai authorities do not seem to have the means nor the will to meaningfully address corruption–especially from influential businesses like Thai Airways.]

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New wonder of the world

From Thairath, February 2, 2017
Title: Wonders of the World.
Left, Trumps holds a sign: Muslim ban.
Mouse man: ฺBrand New.
Mouse: Don’t disrespect. [meaning something like “don’t disrespect the world”]

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Using absolute power to fight corruption

From Thairath, February 7, 2017
Title: Holy power goes inter [Meaning “the junta’s god-like power tries to go international”]
On the smoke: Article 44
Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong speaking to PM Prayuth: Go for it, bro.
On his shirt: Finance
On the giant man’s tie: Broker
On bag on the left: Internal bribery
On bag on the right: Corruption
Phi Nooring: In Thailand, everyone is afraid of it. [meaning Article 44 is all-powerful in Thailand, but outside of the country, no one cares]
Mouse: Under-table tradition

[Refers to the use of the junta’s absolute power–codified as Article 44–to fight corruption.
Thailand’s corruption bodies have been unable or unwilling to objectively investigate corruption in the country. However, the revelations that the UK has done its own investigation that uncovered decades of corrupt Thai officials have led to demands that the investigators release this info to Thailand’s corruption bodies. This would enable them to take credit for taking action against local wrongdoers and at the same time blame the foreign report for having to take action.
In the face of this societal intransigence to tackle corruption, the military has used its absolute power to purge suspected officials engaged in corruption. The cartoonist ridicules the use of this power in this case as they have no ability to influence foreign bodies to give them details about corruption in Thailand. (These details are likely not forthcoming to protect local sources of information used in the UK investigation.)
In Thailand, “go inter” is slang to refer something that is trying to be done outside of the country.]

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Pheu Thai to junta: You spend too much!

From Naewna, February 9, 2017
Pheu Thai Party’s Surapong Tovichakchaikul: The NCPO’s government [the junta] is broke because of extravagant spending! There’s no more a treasury reserves!
At right is a “hungry ghost.” On the hungry ghost’s right hand: Only the rice pledging project spent the national’s budget
On the hungry ghost’s left hand: [of] 7 hundred thousand million. Loss more than 3 hundred thousand million.
Caption: Pret… to accuse someone, also sends impact to their group. [To call someone “Pret,” or hungry ghost, is impolite and means something like “damn them”. The rest of this phrase means that if you accuse someone, it may impact back on you and your own associates.]

[This refers to Pheu Thai Party’s Surapong Tovichakchaikul who criticized the junta for extravagant spending and causing the decline of national treasury reserves.
In the cartoon, it shows that the rice pledging scheme under Yingluck’s government required the largest budget and resulted in the greatest losses in the nation’s history.
The issue of spending has long been an ironic one for Thaksin and the parties he is associated with. Thaksin’s parties made criticism of the Democrat Party’s spending habits a central part of their campaign rhetoric.
However, when the Pheu Thai Party came to power they embarked on spending that dwarfed that of any previous party and essentially emptied state coffers to reward Thaksin loyalists voters in the northeast and ensure the stability of the Pheu Thai-led government.
More from 2013: The Irony of Massive Government Borrowing]

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Too many committees

From Naewna, February 3, 2017
PM Prayuth’s legs: NRSA, NCPO, Committees, CDC, NLA, Cabinet, CRRN, CPHMR
Caption: Thailand’s moving forward…

[Refers to the many committees and bodies established under the junta. It contrasts this with the junta’s pledge to move the country forward. The junta has been criticized for appointing their own cronies in order to control the groups. This leads to the belief that the many committees will degenerate into bureaucratic rubber stamps and will hinder, not help, the advancement of the country.
The NRSA is the National Reform Steering Assembly. The NCPO is the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The CDC is the Constitution Drafting Committee. The NLA is the National Legislative Assembly. The CRRN is the Committees for Reform, Reconciliation, and National Strategy. The CPHMR is the Committee on Public Health Mobilization and Reform.]

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Weekly News Magazines, February 10-24, 2017

From Nation Weekend, February 10, 2017
Main cover reads: Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong. 20th Supreme Patriarch

[Refers Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, the abbot of Wat Ratchabophit, appointed by the King Rama X to be the new Supreme Patriarch of Thailand.
The appointment of the new Supreme Patriarch has been a long-controversial issue. Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn, or Somdet Chuang, the abbot of Wat Pak Nam Phasi Charoen, was the most senior of eight candidates for Supreme Patriarch and would normally have been appointed to the post.
However, due to his close ties with Dhammayachao, the abbot of the controversial Dhammakaya sect, and that sect’s ties with Thaksin’s political machine, his appointment was stalled and eventually thwarted.]

From Matichon Weekly, February 10-17, 2017
Main cover reads: 20th Supreme Patriarch in the King Rama X
On the cover: H.E. King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) and Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong

From Manager Weekly, February 11-17, 2017
The quote: “I don’t have any money. I don’t collect even Phra Ajan Phan’s coins. I don’t have it. I also don’t have a car.” Somdet Phra Ariyavongsagatayan. The supreme patriarch (Amporn Amparo)
Main cover reads: (yellow) 20th Supreme Patriarch (light yellow) of Rattanakosin [meaning he is the 20th Supreme Patriarch of the Rattanakosin era]

[Refers to an appointment of the new supreme patriarch. The King Rama X appointed Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong (or Phamaha Amporn Amparo) to be the 20th Supreme Patriarch in the Rattanakosin era.
The article notes his peaceful and calm personality that is welcomed by Thai people.
The quote on the cover is intended to draw a contrast with Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn, or Somdet Chuang, the abbot of Wat Pak Nam Phasi Charoen. He was the most senior of the eight candidates for Supreme Patriarch and would normally take the post.
However Somdet Chuang is know for his collection of luxury cars and his connection with the Dhammakaya sect which preaches that donations can create a type of internal nirvana. He is also facing tax evasion charges on luxury cars donated to his temple.]

From Lokwannee, February 18-24, 2017
Main cover reads: All are cool

Top-left: Are you cool? inside a car
[Refers to the incident which 50-year-old engineer shot at a group of teenagers after they had an argument over a parking space. “Are you cool?” is what the teenagers shouted at the man.]

Top-right: Just shot them – inside a car
[Refer to the same the incident above. “Just shot them” was said by the man’s wife and recorded on the car camera during the incident.]

Middle left: Leader – inside a car
[Refers to the leaders of political groups including the Yellow Shirts (symbolized by a hand clapper), the Red Shirts (symbolized by a foot clapper), and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (symbolized by a whistle).]

Middle right: Election supporter – inside a car
[Refers to political parties: the Democrat Party (symbolized by the Thokkathan-Mother Earth statue) and the Pheu Thai Party (symbolized by a crab which is former PM Yingluck’s nickname).]

Bottom left: Justice – inside a car
[Refers to the justice system which Red Shirts and pro-Thaksin groups question as being biased.]

Bottom right: Sovereignty – inside a car
[Refers to the junta who is now holds supreme power to govern the country.]

[We are not sure what this cover means exactly. However, all of them include the words, “in the car.” It may imply that those groups noted on placards were try to act cool. However, when it comes to the real situation in the real world, they act different.
So it is possibly ironic–people tout “justice” or “sovereignty (for the people),” but the reality is much different as there is no real justice or sovereignty for the people.]

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Thai govt subsidies add cars in one of world’s most congested countries

Thailand has ‘world’s most congested traffic’ – Bangkok Post, February 21, 2017
…Drivers in Thailand spent an average of 61 hours stuck in traffic last year, followed by motorists in Colombia and Indonesia with an average 47 hours…

Suzuki optimistic about sales – Bangkok Post, February 21, 2017
…”We estimate some 300,000 buyers from the government’s first-time car buyer programme will buy new cars per year,” said Mr Wallop. “This will lead the domestic market to recoup 1.1 million units sold under the rebate scheme over the next five years…”

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The long road map

From Thairath, February 3, 2017
Title: Road map… as long as you want it
At left, Prayuth is singing a song he wrote: Give us some time. We’ll keep our promises. [meaning the military needs to stay in power to reform the country]
On his shirt: A role model [perhaps harking back to Thailand’s military dictators who modeled themselves as ideal men who were an example to others]
On the soldier’s back at right: “Return the happiness” team [referring to another slogan of the junta]
On the top carpet: Reform-national strategy-power-power-power-power
On the middle carpet: Reconciliation 2560 [2017]
On the bottom carpet: Reconciliation 2552-2557 [2009-2014]
In front of the jail: People who have different opinions
Phi Nooring: Reconciliation as Uncle Tu’s favor [“Uncle Tu” is PM Prayuth]
Paper held by mouse man Phi Nooring: Release Pai [student activist Pai Dao Din who is jailed and charged with lese majeste]
Mouse: Justice must come first.

[This cartoon criticizes the junta’s new reconciliation plan and notes that this is just the latest of a long line of reconciliation plans. It also points out the “big man” dictatorial nature of the PM and how he seems to be following a plan of his own whims.
The cartoon contends that real reconciliation should include (or start with) a reform of the justice system and the release of those accused of lese majeste. It also expresses concern that the junta may use the reconciliation as the tool for prolonging their power and postponing elections.]

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Video of Bangkok Electric Trams (1893-1968)

More: Bangkok Trams (1894-1968) Main Page

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We are not muzzling the press!

From Naewna, February 2, 2017
Above the cage: Media Control Act
PM Prayuth: Ha, ha, ha… We aren’t controlling the media, but we are going to protect them….
[Normally the Naewna newspaper is pro-military and anti-Thaksin, but this cartoon chides the military government for enacting new measures to muzzle the press.]

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Unfair MOU

From Thairath, January 28, 2017
Title: The judge is neutral… no conflict with anyone else?
On the document being held by the “judge” who is actual a military man representing the ruling junta: MOU of harmony.
On the man who is being beaten: Democracy
On the hammer: Big power
Mouse man: Join in together to play outside of rules.
Mouse: Playing a harmony game.

[This criticizes the junta’s push to have all opposing political factions sign a memorandum of understanding that will outlaw further political conflicts including attempts to occupy Bangkok.
The cartoonist contends that the MOU is an unfair collusion between the military and groups who oppose Thaksin and his Red Shirts.
Those anti-Thaksin groups are represented in the cartoon by a protester with a whistle and hammer. These groups attempted to disrupt snap elections that the former Phea Thai government called to legitimize its rewriting of the constitution to allow Thaksin to return to power from his exile abroad.]

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Again: Thais won’t fight corruption!

From Manager, February 2, 2017
Man on the left: Hurry up… I bring people involved with the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal to feed to you.
On his shirt: NACC UK
A man on the right: No! You must thoroughly mash it up first!
On his shirt: NACC Thailand

[Refers to the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal involving Thailand (among other countries) that was uncovered by British regulators. Thai regulators never found this corruption which had been going on for decades. The cartoon criticizes the slow response of the Thai NACC (the National Anti-Corruption commission) toward this issue even thought they had knowledge that the UK was investigating the issue.]

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Collapse of State Enterprises

From Thairath, January 27, 2017
Title: Disaster day.
On the jet: Reveal bribery.
From left there is a Thai airways plane and logos from three state enterprises: PTT (Petroleum Authority of Thailand), PEA (Provincial Electricity Authority) and MEA (Metropolitan Electricity Authority)
Mouse man: Collapse of state enterprises.
Mouse: Cleaning up corruption.

[This cartoon points out that several Thai state enterprises have been recently been involved in corruption scandals.
During his time as prime minister, Thaksin attempted to privatize Thai state enterprises and this became a point of contention for pro- and anti-Thaksin groups.
Thaksin’s policy was in line with the international trend toward privatization to create more responsive, transparent and business-like running of these bodies.
Critics contended that the enterprises would be sold off at fire-sale prices and funneled to business entities connected to Thaksin allies–and often to overseas buyers.
To combat this, feelings of patriotism were fired up to create public opposition to the sales. This was the idea that protection of valued Thai resources should take precedence over converting these enterprises to businesses that put profits first and might possibly cut jobs for state workers–all the while enriching Thaksin allies.
The recent spate of scandals–especially after local Thai corruption bodies failed to find any wrongdoing–is ammunition to those who still wish to see Thai state enterprises privatized in the name of efficiency and transparency.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | 1 Comment

20 Years Ago: When Leonardo DiCaprio Hit ‘The Beach’

Hollywood Flashback: When Leonardo DiCaprio Hit ‘The Beach’ in Berlin
…However, the Fox thriller, also starring Tilda Swinton and Robert Carlyle, didn’t meet its blockbuster expectations and was altogether panned by critics. It was further clouded by controversy: the studio was sued for damaging the Thai environment during the shoot and, after its protest-filled premiere in the Asian country, Thai politicians called for the film to be banned for its depiction of local drug culture and disrespect to Buddhism…

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Thais can’t fight corruption

From Manager, January 26, 2017
PM Prayuth: This is the salary used to pay the NACC to fight corruption in Thailand… I will give all this to you because your work is more deserving than them.
On the table at left: NACC [Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission]
On the men’s shirts: UK’s NACC

[Refers to the case of the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office alleged that Rolls-Royce representatives, over decades, paid bribes to intermediaries in Thai Airways to buy their engines.
The cartoon jokes that Thailand’s Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission was unable to uncover the wronging and is not doing its job.]

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Prayuth and Thaksin feel the same way about the media!

From Naewna, February 1, 2017
Left: Freedom of the press in Thaksin’s era
Right: Freedom of the press in Uncle Tu’s [PM Prayuth’s] era
Caption: The same place at the same time

[This refers to how elected Prime Minister Thaksin and now military junta leader Prayuth both have worked to restrict freedom of the press. The bird represents the press.
The cartoon portrays a notorious incident from Thaksin’s time as prime minister when he started using an “X” paddle to refuse to answer questions he did not like (Thaksin surprises reporters with X sign). The current regime has pushed restrictive licensing rules for media which many see as a dangerous return to the past when the media had much less freedom.]

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Weekly News Magazines, February 3-17, 2017

From Matichon Weekly, February 3-9, 2017
Main cover picture: Mr. Deal

[Refers to a reconciliation plan led by Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan. Deputy PM Prawit is believed to be working behind the scenes with various political parties to accept the junta’s reconciliation plan.]

Top right: Namtan ‘sweet’ million views. The victory of the loser.

[Refers to Miss Thailand Universe Chalida ‘Namtan’ Suansane. Although she did not win Miss Universe, she was very popular in social media. All her clips posted through the social media had millions of views. “Namtan” means “sweet.”]

From Nation Weekend, February 3, 2017
Main cover reads: Secrets, Trickery and Camouflage. Underground radio on the [other] side of the Mekong

[Refers to the Federated Thai State underground radio station which is run by an anti-monarchy revolutionary group. This group is in Laos and broadcasts anti-monarchy programs to Thailand. This group is composed of hardcore Red Shirts and pro-Thaksin activists who fled to to exile in Laos to avoid arrest.
Implicit in the insistence that Thaksin be pardoned is a veiled threat that revolutionary opposition to the monarchy can be fomented if Thaksin is not treated fairly. Red Shirt media nearly always includes allusions to historical incidents of peoples’ movements overthrowing monarchies.
Recently, Laos’ defense minister visited Thailand and Deputy PM Prawit expressed his concerned about Laos allowing revolutionary groups to operate there. This is thought to mean that Laos will crack down on the revolutionary groups operating on their soil.]

Top-right: Tears of ‘Namtan’ and the crown strategy

[Refers to Miss Thailand Universe Chalida ‘Namtan’ Suansane who competed in the Miss Universe pageant. The article is about how to win the hearts of people and the competition.]

From Manager Weekly, February 4-10, 2016
Main cover reads: Reconciliation-bribery [black] Ask [red] ‘Jae’

[Refers to Thaksin’s sister Yaowapa Wongsawat whose nickname is Dang. “Jae” is a Chinese word meaning as big sister. Thus she is called “Jae Dang” by the media to imply she is the older sister of Thaksin and thus a powerful political player. She has been accused of benefiting from the rice pledging scheme and other related bribery issues including the Rolls-Royce scandal.
She is thought to be a key person to realize the junta’s reconciliation plan as Thaksin’s family would have to spread money around to placate the Red Shirt leaders who have risked so much for Thaksin. They would then also have to placate Red Shirt followers and get them to participate in the reconciliation.
The title also implies that Yaowapa is not interested in reconciliation, but only the enrichment of her own family.
For the translation ‘ถามเจ๊ดูสิ’ is is something like ‘ask ‘Jae’? The word ‘ดูสิ’ means ‘let’s ask her.’]

Top: Secret reconciliation deal part 3. Combine-Touch on

[Refers to the reconciliation plan led by Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwong. This plan will be the third reconciliation plan since Thaksin was overthrown in a coup ion 2006.]

Bottom left: Don’t you dare! Niece of [yellow] ‘Pat’ [white] beautiful and hard slap [yellow] ‘Naff’ is very hot.

[Refers to Naff, Napapa ‘Patt’ Tantrakul’s niece. She and Patt were in the news about having a fight with a woman who was the new girlfriend of Patt’s ex-boyfriend.]

Right: Difficulty which has to pass. To cheer up ‘Patt Napapa’

[Refers to Actress Napapa ‘Patt’ Tantraku’s life and recent pregnancy. Her husband, Benz Racing, is accused of being involved with the money-laundering drug network of Xaysana Keophimpha.]

From Lokwannee, February 11-17, 2017
Main cover reads: #Release Pai [small] 30 media organizations don’t forget to fight for people’s freedom
On the smoke below: Reform the justice [system]. Reform the military. Reform media. etc.

[This cover calls on the media to fight for the release of political student activist Pai Dao Din who was jailed for forwarding and commenting on a BBC article deemed insulting to the monarchy.
The cover implies that while the media and other organizations have called for reform for many issues (often echoing the junta’s calls for reform), they should not forget about ensuring the freedom of the people as well.]

Posted in Thai Newspapers and Magazines | 1 Comment

All must be humbled

From Arun, January 26, 2017
Box on the top: Arun cartoon; Arun Watcharasawad [referring to the name of the column and the cartoonist.]
Title on the right: Fighting partners
Left boxes from top to bottom: NACC [National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand]; Pheu Thai [political party oust in 2014; directed by Thaksin and his family]; PDRC [essentially the anti-Thaksin Yellow Shirts]; UDD [the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts]; political parties; military; democracy; dictator
Middle boxes: Reconciliation [the word is split between the two boxes]
Right box: Reconciliation

[This chart illustrates the conditions the junta has set to allow new elections. Like many of Arun’s cartoons, it subtly or shyly criticizes the junta and its constraints on society.
The cartoon suggests that all factions of power must be impossibly and unrealistically cowed for an election to take place.]

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From Daily News, January 25, 2017
On the tornadoes: Stop.
On the man’s back: Trump.

[Not entirely sure of the meaning here. Perhaps that Trump should stop causing problems (represented here by the tornadoes).]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons | Leave a comment

Weekly News Magazines, January 27-February 10, 2017

From Lokwannee, Feb 4-10, 2017
Main cover reads: 3 pictures stolen (Coup d’état is not a major offense?)
Under the frames from left to right: Freedom, equality and brotherhood

[This cover parodies the news of a Thai-high ranking officer from the Ministry of Commerce who inexplicably stole three paintings from a hotel in Japan. The public strongly criticized the official and called for strong punishment.
However, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam called the public to calm down as the Ministry of Commence set up a team to investigate the incident.
All of this–the arrogance and selfishness of a government official in stealing painting and the attempt by the government to downplay the incident and assign a committee to handle it–smacks of business as usual for the government. In particular, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam’s response creates the impression that the offense was a minor one.
In any event, the official who stole the paintings resigned his position over this “minor” incident.
The cover contends the military stole Thailand’s “Freedom, equality and brotherhood” (represented by the missing paintings) and for this “minor” offense, the military should step down from its role in government.]

From Matichon Weekly, Jan 2-Feb 2, 2017
Main cove reads: Mis [red] Ter [yellow] ‘Re’ [red] conciliation

[This cover implies that Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda is behind the scenes guiding the reconciliation plan of the junta–particularly for the yellow and red factions.]

On the left: Bribery of ‘Rolls-Royce’ impacts the world. Thai Airways-PTT affected. The NACC plans to investigate politicians involved.

[Refers to the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal in which senior officers of the company confessed to paying bribes to Thai Airways high-ranking officers, politicians and others.]

From Nation Weekend, Jan 27, 2017
Main cover reads: Lao mafia under the shadow of left-side influential person.

[Refers to Laos drug lord Xaysana Keopimpha (pictured) who was arrested in Thailand. His network has cultivated unprecedented connections with powerful persons in Laos including politicians and Thai celebrities believed to have assisted him with money laundering and asset concealment.
“Left-side” refers to Laos being on the left side of the Mekong River. This is because some non-Western cultures do not always conceptualize maps as having north at the top. For instance, Thais often visualize the Mekong River as an area from the river source (at the bottom of a map) to the direction headed to the sea (at the top of the map). Thus, Laos would be on the left side.]

66/23 Expired drug [yellow] ‘Tu-Pom’ refuse to leave [“Tu” refers to PM Prayuth’s nickname. “Pom” is Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan’s nickname.]

[66/23 is the reference number of a prime minister’s order on the measures to combat communism issued in 2523 or the year 1980 by then Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda.
This same model is believed to be behind present reconciliation efforts, thought to be spearheaded by Prem, who is now Privy Council President.
As the original orders included amnesty, the prospect of this reconciliation has grabbed the attention of those who fear Thaksin will try to use it to negotiate amnesty along with factions of anti-monarchy Red Shirts who have been living overseas.
“Expired drug” characterizes the order as old “medicine” used for the issue of communists. “Refuse to leave” implies that the powerful duo of Prawit and Prayuth will not cede power until their reconciliation MOU is signed by all parties.]

From Manager Weekly, Jan 28-Feb 3, 2017
Main cover reads: Cheaters shouldn’t have a place to stand?
On the podium: Anti-Corruption Organization (Thailand)
The man is PM Prayuth.
Company logos:
(1st column) Rolls-Royce, Thai Airways, Metropolitan Electricity Authority, GT200
(2nd column) PTT Plc., AOT, Sky Dragon
(3rd column) TOT, another we do not know
(4th column) Provincial Electricity Authority
(5th column) King Power
[This illustrates the ironic actions of the junta led by PM Prayuth. The junta has strongly committed to fight corruption. However, many companies and groups related to corruption still seem to be immune from meaningful investigations over alleged.]

Top: Secret deal on reconciliation part 3. Military kisses politician’s mouth [bold] to set up the national government

[Photos top: Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thaksin Shinawatra, [bottom] Anutin Charnvirakul, Newin Chidchob.
This refers to a supposedly secret deal between the junta and politicians and political groups to build reconciliation before elections.]

Bottom left: Crown or not crown! ‘Namtan-Chalida’ won the hearts of people around the world

[Refers to Miss Thailand Universe Chalida ‘Namtan’ Suansane. Even though she didn’t receive a crown as Miss Universe, she won people’s heart with her beautiful and glorious appearance.]

Right: Thairath TV didn’t hire him. ‘Chuwit’ bought the airtime.

[Refers to Chuwit Kamolvisit’s new TV show on Thairath TV. This reveals that Chuwit is not a celebrity hire for the network, but simply buys the airtime for his show.]

Posted in Thai Newspapers and Magazines | 4 Comments