From Manager, May 1, 2016
In the background, Deputy PM Prawit says to Thaksin: Calm down, Sin [Thaksin]… If Watcharapol can withdraw [a knife from] my brother and other two… then to withdraw [a knife from] your sister will be easily.
The man withdrawing the knife is NACC chief Pol. Gen. Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit
Men in the pile from top to bottom: Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan, former PM Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and former PM Somchai Wongsawat
At right is Yingluck
On the knives: NACC [National Anti-Corruption Commission]
On the sign by the forest: Transitional forest
A man in the forest: Thaksin
[This references the Thai idiom, “to put the knife in someone,” meaning to punish them.
As all Thai cliques do when they come to power, the junta apparently has gone to work setting up the conditions to clear family and cronies of encumbering legal charges.
Pol. Gen. Watcharpol, who has close ties with the junta, is believed to have been elected as the head of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in order to help Deputy PM Prawit’s brother Pol. Gen. Patcharawat.
Deputy PM Prawit is thought to be the most powerful person in the junta, content to let the international press focus on the erratic behavior of Prime Minister Prayuth.
Deputy PM Prawit’s brother, along with Thaksin puppets Somchai and Chavalit, were all facing protracted legal battles over the hard line the People Power Party government took to forcibly clear anti-Thaksin protesters in 2008.
Deputy PM Prawit has close ties, not only with the Eastern Tigers who overthrew the Pheu Thai government, but with Thaksin himself and many other political figures who acted on his behalf. Releasing the legal pressure on Somchai and Chavalit gives the junta a carrot to negotiate with as the military moves to forever block Thaksin from a political return.
However, there has been intense Thai media focus on the prospect of Prawit’s brother, Pol. Gen. Patcharawat, being absolved of all charges in cracking down on protesters. While other police officers refused orders to take violent action against the protest, Pol. Gen. Patcharawat reportedly stepped up.
At that time, officers were photographed openly shooting towards the crowd as a message to the public that the government had the means and support to resist efforts to unseat it.
Pol. Gen. Patcharawat’s apparent leadership at the time violates the conscience that officers of the state are supposed to have–particularly to resist carrying out politically motivated orders from an elected government.
This stems from the prevailing Thai belief that the elected are compromised by dent of being elected since they must then be loyal to the movers and shakers who afforded them their positions. Thus, the police and army must think twice before throwing their lot in with the elected as the elected’s motivations would not be in concert with the good of the nation.
The cartoonist contends that a deal is being made between Prawit (representing the military) and Thaksin that Yingluck could likewise be spared humiliating legal cases if Thaksin plays along.
However, in recent weeks, the junta has shown it is keeping the pressure on Thaksin with the arrest of the Facebook 8 and the public insinuation that their paid activities lead back to leaders of the Red Shirt movement–and perhaps Thaksin’s son.
Thai-language articles about this often have “hostage” in the title because the army actions are meant to show that the junta has Thaksin family members under legal threat which they can unleash if Thaksin makes moves to seize control of another future government or disrupt the passage of the charter.
Contrast all this nuanced information with the bland editorials from the international press ruminating on the dictatorship and actions of Prime Minister Prayuth.
Prayuth is hardly considered a consequential player any more. The real political drama pits Prawit’s anti-Thaksin clique and Privy Councillor Prem’s anti-Thaksin clique against the shifting remnants of Thaksin’s political machine.]