May 2nd, 2017

Media licensed like massage parlors

From Thairath, April 28, 2017
Title: Same as… massage with news.
Below title: The media needs to have a professional license… the same way we need [to do it] from Thai traditional massage.
On the chair: NRSA [National Reform Steering Assembly]
On the books the man holds: Controlling media ACT; NCPO order; Secret
On the microphone: News
Mouse man: Stop saying that the media overshadows people. [meaning something like the junta is claiming that the media misleads and influences people in the wrong way]
Mouse: Think the same way as elections. [meaning something like the government to should reply on elections and elected officials to decide things]

[All of this refers to government efforts to enact a licensing rule for anyone considered providing news. In response to criticism, officials countered that even Thai massage parlors must have licenses and so the media, with its ability to influence, should be required to have a government license as well. The junta has since stated that they are dropping the licensing requirement after much public alarm.

Interestingly, the government the junta overthrew attempted the same thing. The Pheu Thai government used the flooding in Bangkok in 2011 to sneak through a late-night cabinet resolution allowing the police chief to shut any media over vague charges such as “national security and public order.” It also included the same sort of government licensing the junta is attempting now.
The proposed Pheu Thai law came after a Thaksin relative had been appointed head of the police force after a controversial and unprecedented reshuffle of officials.
The resulting publicity caused the Pheu Thai to withdraw the bill. The reshuffle was later deemed illegal by the courts and resulted in Thaksin’s sister Yingluck stepping down as prime minister.

Also: Prayuth and Thaksin feel the same way about the media!]

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How short-lived will the new constitution be?

From Manager, April 14, 2017
On large sign behind the woman: Thailand’s constitution cemetery
On grave markers from left to right: Constitution of 1997; Constitution of 2007
On the woman’s sash: Constitution 2017
The woman (who represents the new constitution) thinks: Oh my goodness!… I am born into a family of recessive genes!!… look, my ancestors are all short-lived!
Caption: After born… [She] starts to feel nervous.

[This makes the observation that Thailand has created and discarded many constitutions over the years and then poses the question as to how long the current charter will last before it is overthrown as well.]

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From 2009: The collapse of the first Red Shirt siege of Bangkok

From 2009 The collapse of the first Red Shirt siege of Bangkok
…The UDD’s “final solution”, on the other hand, was to take over Bangkok. Oops. Who thought that one up? An armed mob running amok all over the city. Key leaders were nowhere in sight. Citizens were threatened and killed. Yup, that will win over public opinion alright. Their actions were way, way, way too near and menacing for comfort. People’s revolution? Nope, mob rule…

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Hope for greedy politicians

From Manager, April 9, 2017
Title: There is a light at the end of a tunnel for the electioneers. [or the politicians anxious for elections]
On the light: Constitution…. [we cannot read the rest as it is too small]

[The meaning of this is that elections are the “light at the end of the tunnel” for greedy politicians. With the military holding the reigns of power and having sole authority to approve big money projects, political parties and politicians have been starved of money over the past few years.
Now that the charter has been signed by King Rama X, there is hope that elections are one step closer.
This cartoons casts scorn on the idea that elections are desirable and contends that they are just a way for greedy people to make money.]

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Weekly News Magazines, April 13-28, 2017

From Nation Weekend, April 14, 2017
Main cover reads: Pick up revolution

[Refers to the junta’s new law banning passengers in pickup truck beds and backseats to prevent accidents. Many people, particularly outside of Bangkok, use a pickup for going back home to celebrate Songkran. The junta later decided to suspend the law after being strongly criticized by the public.
The underlying issue here is how the junta appears eager and pleased to use its absolute power to enact rules that impact the rural lower classes–such as for removing street vendors, clearing beach vendors and creating new traffic rules. However, the rural people impacted tend to be aligned with Thaksin. The heavy-handed junta rules will be raised in elections with a future government promising that military-era rules will no longer be enforced.]

Left side: Great merit to pay respects for a ‘great stupa’–a place for practicing a meditation

[Refers to the stupa at Phurithattiwat built for praising well-respect monk Ajarn Mun Phurithatto. H.E. King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun attended the ceremony to break ground on the stupa.]

From Manager Weekly, April 15-21, 2017
Main cover reads: ‘Trustable’ guarantee the quality
The men inside the circle are Deputy PM Prawit Wonsuwan, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, the three major powers in the government now.
Under the logo on the bottom right: Standard of Thailand 4.0

[Refers to the national strategy of Thailand 4.0 led by three key persons of the junta consisting of Deputy PM Prawit Wonsuwan, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha. They are know as part of a brotherhood of powerful military men called the “Eastern Tigers.”
Those small logos surrounding the main one allude to the challenges the junta is facing. Two logos on the top refers to Buriram United football club and Buriram Circuit owned by former politician Newin Chidchob. Despite being hounded from politics for betraying Thaksin, he is believed to be playing an important role pre-configuring a future government that locks out Thaksin’s drive from amnesty for himself.
The second logo on the left is PTT which the junta (as all government’s do) is trying to control with the establishment of a national petroleum company.
The second logo on the right refers to Saitaku Resort and Casino located close the Thai-Cambodian border at Buriram Province. This casino burst into the news when anti-corruption activist Veera Somkwamkid tried to investigate whether it was built on Thai land.
The third logo from the left refers to King Power Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who is also believed to play an important role in the political reconciliation plan as he has close ties with former Thaksin Shinawatra.
The submarine and tank refer to the junta’s decision to purchase the weapons from China.]

Top: Vegus Buriram. A source of political funds from the East

[Refers to Saitaku Resort and Casino located close Thai-Cambodian border in the Northeast of Thailand. This is believed to a part of the “Burirum cluster” consisting of Newin’s businesses that include the Burirum United football club and Burirum Circuit. Although banished from politics by Thaksin and the strong arm tactics of the Red Shirts, Newin has built a formidable business empire that is expected to provide political funding for the new election.]

Bottom left: Reveal! Being criticized on losing his mind [black] “Pete Thongchua”
[Refers to actor Pete Thongchua who believes in aliens and uses supernatural power to cure people.]

Bottom right: Knowing Thailand’s way. Style of [blue] ‘Heng coach-Wittha Hloagune. Getting rid of the patronage system.
[Refers to Wittha Hloagune whose nickname is Heng. He is technical president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT). After the resignation of former manager Kiatisuk Senamuang, the President of FAT Somyos Pumpanmuang assigned him to work with the Ekkono Methodd Soccer Service to set up “Thailand’s way”–a Thai football playing style to improve the standard of football.]

From Matichon Weekly, April 14-20, 2017
Main cover reads: Guarantee by Pa (again)

[Refers to the junta’s future with the support of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda. Although the constitution has already been signed to lead the country to return to democracy, there is a question as to whether Gen. Prem will support the junta’s desire to continue to lead the country after elections as some parts of the constitution allow the junta to have a role.]

Top right: Disclose the road map of ‘BRN’ under the era of Doonloh Wae-mano shaking the “peace talks” for the South

[Refers to the plan of key militant group Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN) under new leader Doonloh Wae-mano toward peace talks. Recently, the group issued a statement to criticizing the junta and called for international observers to take part in the dialogue.]

From Lokwannee, April 22-28, 2017
Main cover reads: From a normal plaque which no one knew… to become the unforgettable symbol!
On the balloon: Happy people. Mother of All Plaque
Logo on the buildings is the stolen 1932 Siamese Revolution plaque

[Refers to the missing 1932 Siamese Revolution plaque. The cover implies that this issue has now become an extremely potent one that cannot be hidden. However, this is the position of only a few media outlets aligned with Thaksin and his Red Shirts. The rest of the Thai media seems to have heeded the junta’s dictates to downplay the story.]

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The military won’t give you want you want!

From Thairath, April 6, 2017
Title: People also want to ask… want to have…
Above left, soldier: I want military tanks.
Man: Ok, deal
On flag: Tanks from people’s taxes.

Above center, soldier: I want jets.
Man: Ok, deal.
On flag: Jets from people’s taxes.

Above right, soldier: I want submarines.
Man: Ok, take it.
On flag: Submarines from people’s taxes.

Below left, soldiers: What do you want?
Man: I want…
Below center, man: Freedom, justice and democracy.
Below right, soldiers: You ask too much… have to wait until next life.

[This humorously contrasts the military government’s spending spree on weaponry with the reaction to activists who demand democracy.]

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Unfair to Thaksin

From Thairath, April 4, 2017
Title: Wickedness across the world.
Top left sign: Forcing to pay taxes, focusing confiscation [referring to judgements against Thaksin assets]
On Prayuth’s sword: Section 44.
Prayuth says: Must respect the law.
Man pointing at Thaksin: Thai people stay under the same law. [must obey the same laws]
Man next to pointing man: Independent organizations act following flag. [meaning something like organizations act according to instructions they receive to attack Thaksin]
On sign held middle man: Law enforcing with two standards. [meaning that laws are applied for strictly to Thaksin as opposed to others]
Sign at right bottom: If you think you are not guilty, why are you afraid?
Thaksin: I am afraid of the MIRACLE of law. [referring to the turn of phrase the junta used to levy a crippling tax judgement against Thaksin]
On paper he holds: We stop, but you guys never did. [meaning Thaksin has been innocently going about his business overseas and not intervening in Thai affairs, but those who oppose him still attack]
Mouse man: Call it my law.
Mouse: Sabotaging tools.

[This shows a key pro-Thaksin sympathy position–that Thaksin is being unfairly targeted by the authorities over the years despite him not being involved in Thai politics at all.]

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Thai Editorial Cartoons on the Stolen Plaque

From Manager, April 17, 2017
Phraya Songsuradet: Because we were “soon ripe, soon rotten…” Thai politics has become worst until the present day… Remove this plaque… then it there won’t be any evidence… showing what we did.
Among the men are Thai dictators of the past including Phraya Phaholpholphayuhasena and Pridi Panomyong. Phraya’s statement is meant to mean the post-revolution leaders were corrupt and led to the poor state of Thai politics today.
Caption: To ease history? [alludes to comments that the plaque was stirring up division] This group of people may want to do it [remove the plaque] the most.

[Refers to the disappearance of the 1932 Siamese Revolution plaque. This cartoon reflects a viewpoint we have written about before–that the 1932 was not really the start of democracy, but the replacement of an existing power with decades of bickering dictators.
“Soon ripe, soon rotten…” is an idiom meaning something like “too early to do it.” This references opinions that the 1932 overthrow of the absolute monarchy in an effort to create a democratic system was not successful because Thai people did not understand democracy yet. This was also the rationale for dictatorship used by many ruling Thai generals over the years.
The cartoonist implies that those who ruled after the revolution should be ashamed of their record and not want the plaque to record the revolution that led to their rule.]

From Thairath, April 18, 2017
Title: There are a lot of robbers in the city.
Man yelling: Pilfering! Stealing! Robbing!
On the plaque: Khana Ratsadon’s plaque
Papers held by robbers from the top to the bottom: Democracy; Government’s power from elections; Human rights in Thailand; Freedom of people and press
Phi Nooring: Doing as teamwork.
Mouse man: Can arrest. It’s not wrong [to arrest them].

[This cartoon makes the point that the junta must be involved with the plaque removal and links other issues, such as freedom and human rights, with the stealing of the plaque to show the anti-democratic pattern of the junta.]

From Manager, April 18, 2017
People representing the nations of the world: Will World War 3 occur? So scary.
Thai man in foreground: My plaque has been taken… Who stole it?!!
Caption: The world is concerned about the future: Thais concerned about the past.

[This attempts to downplay the missing revolution plaque. It shows peoples of the world concerned about escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea contrasted with a Thai person focused on who stole the revolution marker.
This certainly shows the bent of the Manager Group in being skeptical of the democratic process as well as supporting any eventuality (such as a less democratic Thailand) that prevents a Thaksin return to power.]

From Thairath, April 19, 2017
Title: People who are hammering the plaque
On book held by charter-drafter Meechai: A law to destroy political parties [referring to parts of the new constitution designed to prevent political parties from being too strong]
On plaque: Destroy political parties under a democratic system. Extend power for 20 years. Violate human rights. Control people’s freedom. Establish a group system. Independent agencies.
Phi Nooring: Who will help to remove this? [meaning the new plaque]
A mouse: Hammering the plaque of power

[This shows key junta figures installing a new plaque that has phases on it showing that the junta will maintain tight control over Thai politics for many years.
The removal of the plaque is thus the final act in a long line of actions taken by the junta to restrict freedom of the people.]

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Keep nationalization away!

From Thairath, April 1, 2017
Title: Tasty bait…?
On the cap: PTT
On bottom peg: TER [Thai Energy Reform]
On top peg: NCPO [National Council for Peace and Order]
On bottom peg on leg: NLA [National Legislative Assembly]
On top peg on leg: CM [Council of Ministers]
Falcon: National Oil Company.
Mouse man: The vulture is starving.
Mouse: Eaten alive.

[Despite what some commentators might allege about Thai politics being about the monarchy or opposition to the military junta, most every issue still comes down to predictable pro- and anti-Thaksin positions.
Thaksin, a champion of modern international style deregulation and privatization, would resist moves to nationalize the country’s resources–especially under military purview. This pro-Thaksin and pro-Red Shirt cartoonist takes this position showing the PTT being menaced by the idea of national oil company.
Those who resist Thaksin (such as Manager Group cartoonists) wish government control of state enterprises and industries, fearing control of these resources in the hands of Thaksin business cronies and foreign interests.]

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Thaksin lied to people

From Naewna, April 3, 2017
Above the man: Red Shirt academics disclose that Thaksin lied so that people would die for his return to power.
Caption: Whoa!… can’t control anymore?

[Does anyone know the Red Shirt academics mentioned here or what this is referring to?]

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Bombing makes it worse

From Thairath, April 12, 2017
On bomb at top right: Syria
On bomb at the bottom right: Chemical weapons. Syrian government
Under the kneeling person: Syria
Phi Nooring: The country already has enough crises.
Mouse: Condolences to the Syrian people
Caption: People were bombed by two sides.

[Refers to the serious situation in Syria that has included chemical weapons attacks and then retaliatory attacks by the U.S. on the Syrian government. In the cartoon, it shows that no matter which side the attacks come from, the Syrian people suffer the most. Although Syria has been engaged in civil war, bombing from either the U.S. or the Syrian government makes the situation worse.]

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Songkran Cartoons 2017

From Post Today, April 13, 2017
Title: Cool and enjoy [pink] Great Songkran ๒๕๖๐ [2017]

[The cartoon shows the current situation the junta is facing in both politics and the economy. The top shows that the junta led by PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, in a red shirt, pushing a boat that contains Somkid Jatusripitak, head of the government economic team. US President Donald Trump is spraying the boat. The man in yellow (we think) is Dr. Veerthai Santiprabhob, governor of the Bank of Thailand. This shows the jitters that President Trump’s caused with criticism of Thailand trade account surplus with the U.S.
At the bottom PM Prayuth, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan and Meechai Ruchuphan (head of the Constitution Drafting Committee) are splashing water and making a sand castle that looks like a constitution plinth.]

From Matichon, April 12, 2017
Title: Hello. [on the flag] Songkran ๒๕๖๐ [2017]

[PM Prayuth Chan-ocha is under a chicken mask since this is the year of the rooster in the Chinese calendar. Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan is holding balloons like a child. The shape of the balloons refers to the deals to purchase weapons, such as tanks, submarine and planes, from China.
On the elephant is the Songkran’s Goddess and her followers.]

From Daily News, April 13, 2017
Title: Feeling cool nationwide. [green] Great Songkran [yellow] ๒๕๖๐ [2017]

[On the constitution plinth at top right is Meechai Ruchuphan, head of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC). The people on the road are politicians Suthep in a green shirt, Abhisit in a blue shirt and the woman is Yingluck. The submarine refers to the junta giving a green light for the navy to purchase submarines from China. The man in the pickup truck straining at his seat belt refers to the controversial rule banning people from traveling in pickup beds. Normally throngs of young people stand in the back of pickups to throw buckets of water, but this new rule would prevent that. The junta backtracked on the rule right after facing the fierce criticism from the public.]

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Hate an eel, but eat its soup.

From Naewna, April 5, 2017
Title: Hate an eel, but eat its soup.
Left: Hate the military conscription system, but use its rights for an extension.
The man is draft objector Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal.
On the military boot: Conscription
Right: Hate the courts, but sue through the courts to take legal action against the media.
The man is Thaksin Shinawatra.
On the sign: Accuse the court of injustice.

[Refers to the Thai idiom “hate an eel, but eat its soup” meaning like to hate something but still use that thing or still do what you say you hate. It is mean to show irony or hypocrisy.
Both student activist Netiwit and former PM Thaksin, in the cartoon, do things that they hate. Netiwit opposed the military conscription, but still uses his rights by applying for an extension of the military service requirement.
Meanwhile, Thaksin always accuses the justice system of being unjust and unfair when cases go against him. However, he still often uses the courts to levy charges against those who criticize him.]

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Weekly News Magazines, April 7-25, 2017

From Nation Weekend, April 7, 2017
Main cover reads: Mafia of the AEC ‘Sisouk Daoheuang’

[Refers to the arrest of wanted Laotian drug kingpin Sisouk Daoheuang who is believed to be associated with Xaysana’s drug network which spreading out across ASEAN. AEC refers to the ASEAN Economic Community.]

Top: Songkran [yellow] civil war [white] fire of revenge is blazing?
[We could not find any article in the magazine related to this headline.]

From Matichon Weekly, April 7-13, 2017
Main cover reads: You stop, but the ‘roadmap’ doesn’t.

[Refers to Thaksin who recently posted on Facebook that he has already stopped doing things to interfere with the junta. He asked then asked the junta when they would stop attacking him.
This cover uses Thaksin’s saying to illustrate that although Thaksin claims he as stopped his political activities, the junta will still keep going forward following their road map to reform the country including forcing a reconciliation among political groups.]

Left: Billionaire ‘Charoen’ doesn’t stop to increase his wealth by launching another ‘billions’ investment project

[Refers to billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, owner of TCC Group, who launched a 120-billion-baht investment project called ‘One Bangkok’ making the largest-ever property investment in a single site in Thailand.]

From Manager Weekly, April 8-14, 2017
Main cover reads: The constitution given by the King. The first step for the reform of the country for all Thai people.

[Refers to H.E. King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun giving a signed constitution to PM Prayuth.]

From Lokwannee, April 15-21, 2017
Main cover reads: State is overlapped by state? Power is overlapped by power?

[This cover raises concern that, although the constitution was signed and would lead to an election, the junta still seems to have power over the elected government and their absolute power under Article 44 can trump the constitution.]

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Get your gas from a demon

From Manager, April 4, 2017
Demon: I frequently fill gas into this mirror… My image reflected in this will be good…
Logo on the man’s hat: PTT
Caption: Energy demons know how to use the mirror.

[We are not exactly sure of the meaning or reference, but it likely refers to private or foreign energy-related companies winning out in Thailand by the defeat of a national oil company. It may also refer to the recent allegations of bribery that have engulfed the company along with Thai airways.]

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Back to the three soldiers!

From Manager, March 29, 2017
ML Pridiyathorn Devakula: The country can’t go back to the time of using the three soldiers!!
On the left sign: National oil corporation
On the right sign: The NCPL corporation
Three soldiers on the sign, left to right: Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha
Caption: “Auy” must forget that… now we are still using three soldiers.

[Refers to the call from former deputy prime minister Pridiyathorn Devakula, whose nickname is “Auy,” to stop the plan to establish the national oil corporation as in the past under the brand of “Three Soldiers.”
According to him, this plan will centralize all authority in the management and allocation of national energy in one organization. The logo of the soldiers also emphasizes the point that the Thai military are interwoven into this key national resource.
This cartoon implies that even though we do not yet have the “Three Soldiers” oil corps again, Pridiyathorn forgets that he is living in the era of three powerful soldiers–Gen. Anupong Paojinda, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan and Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who all play crucial roles in the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to govern the country.]

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Getting closer for Thaksin

From Naewna, April 11, 2017
Thaksin: Do it more… do it more
On the water: Road map for election
On the tank: The NCPO [meaning the junta]
On the devil: Mayors and head of villages
Caption: Like a trichopodus leerii fish in new water… Don’t care about his mediums anymore.

[Refers to the Thai idiom “like a trichopodus leerii fish (a pearl gourami) in new water” which is something like the English idiom “as happy as a lark.” The cartoonist implies that Thaksin is very cheerful that the National Council for Peace and Order led by PM Prayuth, is getting closer to having to name an election date. This, according to Thaksin’s plan, will allow his party return to power once again.
As he is sure his goal will be achieved, he does not care about the state of village headmen who will now have their power reduced through periodic elections. As they formerly served for life, the new changes will shake up the power structure in many villages. This is symbolized by the angry headman and the devil behind him who threatens violence over the changes to the rules.]

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The border casino

From Thairath, March 31, 2017
Veera says: Protect Thai soil for our younger generation?
Paper held by Veera: Investigate on whose casino the land is
On his shirt: Veera
On the sign at left: Overlapping area Thailand-Cambodia
On the sign above the border gate: Mysterious casino
Phi Nooring: Will it be like Preah Vihear case
Mouse: Be careful to not lose the land

[Refers to anti-corruption activist Veera Somkwamkid. He was blocked by local people from his plan to go to a Buri Ram border checkpoint to check whether a casino sits on Thai or Cambodian soil. It was thought that influential local kingpins organized the blockade as Veera and his publicity were impacting their casino deal. This casino is located near the overlapping area between Thailand and Cambodia. Recently, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan confirmed the casino is not in Thailand.
Veera is a rabblerouser who was once arrested for illegal entry to Cambodia’s soil when he was visiting the border during the Preah Vihear controversy.
The tone of this cartoon is not clear, but the cartoonist supports Thaksin and the Red Shirts which would make him skeptical of the activities of a Yellow Shirt like Veera. Thus the cartoon is likely meant to question whether Veera’s actions protect the country or cause conflict between Thailand and its neighbors.]

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The Missing Marker and Thai Democracy


From Asia magazine, Vol. XXXII, Number 9, November, 1932
Caption: There was read to the assembled troops a simple and elegant manifesto setting forth the purpose of the gathering and the ideals of the leaders for a constitutional monarchy “of the people, by the people and for the people.” The soldiers answered with an enthusiastic “Jaiyo!”–“Hurrah!”

Activists’ group calls for public help in reclaiming missing historical plaque – The Nation, April 17, 2017

Authorities Respond to Questions About Missing Plaque With Arrests, Silence – Khaosod, April 18, 2017

Earlier: Tiny, Faded Marker Looms Large Over Thailand’s Democracy Debate – Khaosod, January 19, 2017
…“Thepmontri has a problem with the Promoters. He thinks that the revolt in 1932 shouldn’t have occurred and is evil. That it led to elections and corrupt politicians,” said Sombat, adding that these sentiments are being expressed because the backlash against and enmity for politicians are at a zenith…

[The 1932 revolution, seen in a wider view of history, seems to have heralded many decades of military dominance over Thai society rather than democracy.

Monuments and mentions of the revolution have been gradually downplayed over the years as the monarchy reasserted its role in the Thai world over the twentieth century. The missing marker itself had likewise been neglected. However, it has been taken up in recent years by Red Shirts who promoted it as a symbol of democracy.

There remains a strong strain of skepticism towards democracy. Thais often revere supposedly neutral academic figures or strong men over politicians who are thought to be terminally compromised and beholden to special interests. In particular, Thaksin’s brand of democracy–enacting reforms that seemed to have the side effect of benefiting family and cronies–only added to this skepticism.

The missing marker perhaps reflects the confidence and boldness of those who now see the new charter, as well as several powerful military cliques, guaranteeing that real democracy–particularly any Thaksin-led version of it–will no longer be able to return.

Regardless of any near-term political embarrassments for the junta, the military can count a big win for itself in the constitution and the seeming public acquiescence to military involvement in the running of the nation going forward. These indicate that it will be very hard for the sort of international standard of democracy envisioned by the writers of the 1997 charter, with the military confined to the barracks, to take hold in Thailand.

As previously noted, if Thaksin can be sidelined, the dominant political theme of the future will be a return to the battles over the military’s role in politics.]

More on understanding Thailand’s future political battles: Thailand’s Half Democracy

More on military confidence: If the PM stays, watch out for more bombs

And an article from 1932 about the revolution: Siam Tries a People’s Party

2Bangkok.com Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.

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Just use absolute power instead of a constitution

From Thairath, March 28, 2017
Caption: Why do we have politician’s lawyer? [meaning Meechai is a lawyer who works for politicians]
Meechai: Why do we want to become a democracy if an election will attract a lot of cheating politicians?
On the constitution plinth: Democracy 99.99%
On books at left: Organic legislation, To destroy politicians, Control the media, Reform the NACC, Reform the ECT, Reform the police
Man at right: Why do you draft the constitution and claim its democratic if you still prefer the majority system and let your group to come in and cheat?
On a man’s shirt: People 100%
Phi Nooring: Why don’t we have the constitution.
Mouse: Should use the Article 44 instead

[This cartoon ridicules the Constitution Drafting Committee led by Meechai Ruchuphan. The junta admits the charter is almost or 99.9% democratic. Critics claim that the draft provides an advantage to the junta and is not real democracy as it tries to control many independent agencies such as the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT).
The cartoon shows Meechai trying to draft a constitution with the claim that it is based on democracy. However, the man contends that Meechai’s constitution will allow his group, the junta, to play main roles in governing the country and pave the ways for them to be corrupt.]

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Those still belong to us

From Manager, April 4, 2017
Pridiyathorn Devakula: It’s good… that I can block this in time… So, those two women still belong to us.
On women’s sashes: Bongkot, Erawan
On dead man: National Oil Corporation
Caption: The end of fighting for her… Good man died… Bad guys won?

[This shows former Deputy PM Pridiyathorn Devakula who tried to block the plan of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to establish a national oil corporation.
The cartoon questions his motives as he is alleged to be protecting private energy groups (represented by a big-nosed foreigner).
‘Bongkot’ and ‘Erawa’ are large and valuable oil development projects. If a national oil corporation is established, those two project would be controlled by the government and not private oil companies.
The issue of private or public control of state resources is a potent one with anti-Thaksin forces (like the source of this cartoon) traditionally opposing attempts to privatize state enterprises and see control go to allies of Thaksin or foreign interests.
Thus, the cartoonist contends that the national oil corporation lost to the bad guys. The oil projects are represented as women who will be raped by foreign interests–a common theme in the Thai world.]

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2005: PM Thaksin, family praised as ‘Family Day’ role models

2005: PM Thaksin, family praised as ‘Family Day’ role models
[This was an good example of the fawning official press extolling Thaksin and his family. It also raised suspicion that local pollsters were being compromised by politics.]

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Paying Rolls-Royce for a tribute


From Thairath, March 28, 2017
Left: In the past, a mafia watched over gambling houses and brothels. Then, they watched over groups of motorcycle taxi and vans…
Middle: Now, those mafias have moved to control the airlines.
Man with hat: The airlines have to pay money to the mafia?
Right: The airline doesn’t have to pay, but whoever is on the airline’s board [of directors] will have to pay Rolls-Royce for a tribute.

[Refers to a case of Rolls-Royce bribery involving Thai Airways, PTT and many politicians. The cartoonist jokes that Rolls-Royce is like the mafia, holding great sway of Thai politicians and business people.]

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Should the junta tackle seat belts or taxes?


From Manager, March 27, 2017
Left, Prayuth: Stop… Where are you going?
Thaksin: Hurrying to escape from paying taxes, sir.
On a sign: Stop for checking [This portrays a typical Thai police checkpoint, here with the prime minister stopping Thaksin.]

Right: Oh.. Everyone is fastening a seat belt. Then, you can go.

[Inside the car is Thaksin and his family–Potjamarn, Panthongtae, and Peathongtarn. The cartoon ridicules the junta for not taking a harder line in collecting Shin Corp taxes from Thaksin and his family.
Recently the junta used its absolute power to create an enforce a new rule requiring all car passengers to wear seat belts. Critics have mocked the move, contending that the government should focus on getting Thaksin to pay taxes on the Shin Corp sale.]

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Under the coconut shell

From Naewna, March 24, 2017
Left, Netiwit: I am against military conscription and apply for postponement.
Middle: I will fight for the rights of the future of the country where I don’t want [to stay in]
Right: I want to serve the country where I don’t want [to stay in as is evidenced] by my actions..!!
Caption: Don’t need to fight or serve anything. Just exile yourself from this country which is too narrow for you.
Caption: Mr Netiwit, meanwhile, said yesterday he would not report for military conscription. “If I entered the army as a soldier, I would be trampled to death,” he said, adding he disagrees with military conscription…
On his shirt: Netiwit

[Refers to student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphatisal, who has persistently criticized the junta and the educational system.
He recently announced that he would not enter the army because he’s afraid of death (actually being killed). So, he would apply for the postponement. However, the army insisted that he could not hide from serving in the military and ensured his safety to relieve his concerns.
The coconut shell (“kala”) refers to what anti-military groups calls people who support the military as “Kala Land” meaning people who live in a small world. The idea is that they think they know everything but, in fact, they have a limited perspective.]

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Stepping on the Eastern Tiger’s tail

From Manager, March 19, 2017
Thaksin’s son Oak: You want to stop the harmonizing [reconciliation] plan… do you want to get into a fight with me?
Caption: This kid may be on drugs… seeing a dog as a tiger.

[This cartoon references longstanding allegations and rumors that Thaksin’s son, by virtue of his powerful father, was able to take drugs as he pleased. Critics pointed to Oak’s habit of wearing dark sunglasses all the time as evidence of this claim.
Whatever the truth of these rumors, Oak has more and more emerged, via his Facebook page, as a political voice that dares to speak up against the military–primarily when his family is involved. He spoke out very firmly against the new tax claim against his family over the Shin Crop sale (both Oak and his sister appeared to be share nominees for the controversial sale).
In the cartoon, the tiger represents the Eastern Tigers military clique that now controls the government.]

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Who controls the laws?

From Thairath, March 23, 2017
Title: Where is majority law?
PM Prayuth: Use Article 44 because there is a group using majority laws.
Suthep: If the reform isn’t finished, cannot have an election.
On the man’s shirt at right: Blockade the government house and the airport
Phi Nooring: My law. Tu’s law. Whose law?
Mouse: The same group

[This cartoon takes a sarcastic looks at the junta and anti-Thaksin groups led by Suthep Thaugsuban and the Yellow Shirts. In the cartoon, the “majority law” means something like “most of the people agree on a point”–in this case those who oppose the junta’s actions.
So it means the PM is going against majority opinion with the support of anti-Thaksin groups. This is perceived as being to serve their own needs and unfairly attack their opposition and penalize Thaksin. This is another potent claim of unfairness and lack of justice in the Thai system.]

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Junta killing the media

Title: Lawful homicide (again)
Left, on man’s shirt: Chaiyaphum Pasae.
Next to him: Amphetamine; Bomb
Right, on sleeve: NBTC [Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission]
On the paper: Freedom–mass media [meaning freedom of the press is being ripped up]
Mouse man: Continue committing a sin.
Mouse: Never do a good deed.

[Contrasts the killing of activist Chaiyaphum by soldiers under murky circumstances with the junta closure of Voice TV for criticizing the government. Both cases are seen to be cases of the media being muzzled.]

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Headless

From Naewna, March 23, 2017
A man on the left: Let’s burn it, bros. I’ll be responsible for it.
Jatuporn: Don’t be afraid of the law. If you don’t die, you will become rich. If you’re not unlucky enough, you won’t be in jail.
Caption: Tuttu… who knows his fate…!!

[In 2010, Red Shirt leaders called on their supporters to be ready to burn Bangkok if their demands were not met–along with the very Thai-style assurance that the Red Shirt leaders would take responsibly for the actions of the protesters.
However, later they refuted these statements, caught on video day after day, as being taken out of context or meant for another situation.
More: Burning Bangkok, and some past cartoons: Let’s Burn It, Let’s burn it. I will take a responsibility for your actions, Pheu Thai Promises a Bright Future for Bangkok
When the Pheu Thai were in power, charges against Red Shirt leaders who led protests were dropped. Since the military has seized power, Red Shirt leaders are now facing the charges again.
This cartoon ridicules the Red Shirt leaders (symbolized by the headless figures) who seem to have gone quiet despite the seizure of political power by the military, the attacks on the Dhammakaya Movement, and demands for Thaksin to pay massive back taxes.
Jatuporn’s nickname is Tu. However, this cartoonist makes fun with his name by calling as ‘Tuttu’ which sounds like a lady’s name to reflect (from the cartoonist’s opinion) his supposedly chicken-hearted personality.]

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Triggering the Red Shirts

From Naewna, March 29, 2017
Buffalo: Reconciliation.
Rat: Shin corp taxes.
Prayuth: Do not take this wrong. We only want to get this rat, it does not mean it effects the reconciliation issue.

[This cartoon comments that by going after Thaksin for back taxes the junta risks the ire of the Red Shirt movement (here represented derisively by a buffalo). This is because the Red Shirt movement acts on Thaksin’s behalf as when protest was threatened and then carried out in response to the confiscation of Thaksin’s assets in 2010. To attack Thaksin over the back taxes issue means real reconciliation with the Red Shirts and the Pheu Thai Party (both controlled by Thaksin) is impossible.]

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