From Manager, April 4, 2019
Thaksin: First of all, I would like to thank Noi [nickname of Sudarat] for helping to plow the field until it is finished.
[This refers to the Thai proverb “finish farming then kill the buffalo just as one finishes the war and then kills the knights.”
Such a proverb is very apt for Thai politics where rich tycoons like Thaksin are seen to use proxies in the country to carry out their political activities and protest on the streets at politically advantageous times. Once a goal is achieved or the objective is no longer attainable, the foot soldiers are often discarded by the big men who contracted them in the first place.
In the cartoon, the de-facto of Pheu Thai head Sudarat is represented by a buffalo that Thaksin can finally slaughter after she has had her chance to carry out his goals.
Sudarat is widely reviled by the rural kingpins who make up the bulk of Thaksin supporters in the Northeast. She has several strikes against her as a woman, a person with little political influence in the Northeast, and a person thought to be resistant to Thaksin’s direct control.
Even before the elections there was widespread news that Thaksin wanted to replace Sudarat as the party’s main PM choice with another person. However, Sudarat is incredibly popular and seems to embody the Thai concept of a good, modest person who would be a good ruler. Even a chance appearance by her cute daughter landed Sudarat on the covers of newspapers and magazines for weeks as the press seems particularly interested in her life and family.
For Thaksin Sudarat might have seemed a good choice to lead the party, as she could not be pegged as a direct Thaksin “clone” (as Thaksin himself once described his sister Yingluck). However this also raised the prospect that Sudarat might drag her feet on enacting his desire to rewrite the charter and gain a pardon for himself.
Even the way the Pheu Thai designated their PM candidate and titles for top people–not allowing Sudarat the sole honor of being the head of the party and sole PM candidate–bespoke the desire to able to shift her aside if the Pheu Thai won big and could really form the next government on its own terms.
The Pheu Thai did not win big. It lost the popular vote. Despite suspicions that the voting was not entirely free and fair, past elections when the Democrats squared off against other Thaksin-directed parties were lopsided in MPs tallies, but much closer in total votes. The new proportional political system, created in the charter, takes advantage of this, putting more weight on the overall votes.
The Pheu Thai was always facing an uphill battle in forming a government under this new system, but the failure of the Pheu Thai to win the popular vote is a devastating surprise.
This obviously means Sudarat as a leader is finished–at least in the Pheu Thai as a Thaksin proxy. She was always hated by the bulk of the party’s faction leaders and even Thaksin was hesitant. Without both the MP count and popular vote under their belt, the ability to show the world the injustice of the Pheu Thai being shut out of the new government is much lessened.
All of this has led to rumors and speculation that Thaksin will push Sudarat out of the leadership positions she holds in the party thus “killing the knight once the job is done.”]