From Thairath, July 6, 2016
Title: The goal is to plant the flag
On the flag: Want to stay longer
On the military’s shirt: Return happiness
On the balloon: Promote the referendum
On the paper held by people in the jail: People who think differently
On the bowl: Red bowl [referring to the red bowls distributed by Thaksin for Songkran that were confiscated by the military]
Phi Nooring: Happy about staying longer or unhappy?
Mouse: Searching for freedom
[Refers to the coming referendum on the draft constitution. The junta has pledged to “return happiness to the people” and has urged people to accept the draft. The junta has been criticized for violating people’s rights and restricting the freedom to express opposition to the draft.
This cartoon shows the anti-junta assertions about the charter–that is is simply an attempt for the military to cling to power. This perhaps undervalues the actual political dynamic that saw the military stepping in to specifically block Thaksin from politics.
However, the idea of resisting the military’s intrusion into politics has deep roots going back to the 1973 anti-government protests as well as the events of the early 1990s which saw coup leaders maneuvering their way into politics after promising not to.
On the other hand, the “semi-democracy” of the 1980s that the new charter will bring again (and which some foreign media have deeply lamented) is often viewed as a golden age in Thai politics.
This is when widely respected Prime Minister Prem oversaw the modern development of Thailand and shepherded the nation into one of the “Asian Tigers.” At the same time, he faced down opportunistic coup attempts and pacified the communist movements in the country. Prem was precisely the sort of academic, aloof, non-political personality that appeals to a Thai public that is often skeptical about democracy.
The charter vote will likely show which of these viewpoints will prevail–either a disgust with military oversight of politics or a nostalgia for the semi-democracy of the 1980s and the political peace it promises.]