Right here, right now

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The next explosion will be…

From Thairath, July 8, 2021
Title: Waiting for the next bomb
On the smoke: Explosion and fire of factory in Samut Prakarn
On the banner: During quarantine
Phi Nooring: Promptly end the fire before explosion.
Mouse: Prayuth get out.
On the bomb: People can’t stand the COVID crisis and vaccine problems

[Refers to the increasing severe COVID-19 situation in Thailand. Due to the failure of government’s management, many people, not only anti-government groups, have started calling on PM Prayuth to resign. In the cartoon shown the incident of the explosion and fire of the chemical factory in Samut Prakarn province, causing a huge damage. PM Prayuth was in self-quarantine at the time of explosion.
The cartoonist notes that the next big explosion will be the public ire that removes Prayuth and his government from office.]

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“Sand castle” and “People’s tears”

From Arun, July 5, 2021
Title: “Sand castle” and “People’s tears”

[This cartoon shows the time when PM Prayuth and his government had seafood at a beach in Phuket while attending the opening of the “Phuket sandbox.”
This caused strong criticism as people have severe sufferings from COVID-19, but the government was enjoying a good time on the beach. The cartoonist shows the tears of the people about to wash away the uncaring government.
“Sand castle” comes from PM Prayuth who mistranslated the word “sandbox” by saying “sand castle” instead. This was widely ridiculed on social media.]

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How dare you criticize Thaksin!

From Manager, June 21, 2021
On the building: PT Pheu Thai
Pheu Thai party member: You insult our monarchy!!!
Caption: They insult everyone.

[Refers to the anti-government youth group “Restart Democracy” (REDEM). They have developed a reputation for violent clashes with authorities and for not respecting the established political order. (More about REDEM: Blood Downtown)

REDEM recently criticized Thaksin for only calling for the revision of the constitution and refusing to call for the reform of the monarchy. This position by Thaksin is return to the protest times of 10 years ago when Thaksin pushed for charter change and/or an amnesty–both of which would be designed to allow him to return to politics in Thailand. In other words, politics as usual.

In recent months, as the government failed in its mass vaccination promises and student protests dwindled, Thaksin has reemerged, no doubt to take leadership of the political opposition again (More about this: Don’t worry, student protesters! Thaksin sends Jatuporn & the Red Shirts to the rescue!).

However, since Thaksin’s heyday, student protest groups have gone far beyond Thaksin-style “reform” with bold calls for real and deep reform in society.

The cartoon shows Thaksin as a royal figure which was one way he was portrayed by his opposition–as one who continually attempted to bring the monarchy into political squabbles or perhaps wanting to supplant the monarchy itself.

Here it is used to show how Thaksin remains an exalted figure for some of his former party members who find themselves in a strange new world where Thaksin no longer has a stranglehold on the political opposition.

We are not sure the names of all the PT members, but from the left they seem to be: Wan Yubamrung, Phumtham Wechayachai, Somchai Wongsawat, Prasert Chantararuangthong]

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No urgency

From Manager, July 6, 2021
Left title: When the doctor is the seller.
Sign above door: Reserve the vaccine.
Right caption: [When the doctor] …when becomes the buyer.
Sign above door: Order the vaccine.

[This shows how common people in Thailand cannot just go and receive a vaccine. They have to sign up through a government app and be allotted and appointment time–which is often later cancelled. (Update, July 29, 2021: the government has opened Bang Sue Station to walk-in vaccinations for people who meet certain qualifications such as being over 70.)
Meanwhile, when doctors and hospitals want to expedite vaccination, their efforts are often hampered by government bureaucracy, such as when a vaccine order was delayed by an insistence that it be fully paid before the government agencies proceed with the order.
The government insists it is not stalling and has shown itself willing to sue anyone who says otherwise, but underlying all this is a strange lack of urgency. This is expressed by an insistence that all regulations be followed to the letter, making procurement move at a glacial pace.]

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Youth Speak

From Manager, June 30, 2021
Left, boy with black hair: Look!… You f… [fuck] say the rude word!!!
Girl with grey hair: What did he say?
Right, mnan: He said… Naja
Girl: Shit… Very rude
Caption: Ruder than the standard.

[Refers to PM Prayuth who ended an interview regarding the COVID-19 situation by using the suffix “naja.”
“Naja” is a suffix word to end a sentences to make the sentence sound softer. It is an informal word used by young people.
The use of this word in a COVID-19 briefing was criticized as lacking seriousness in a very serious time.
Due to this, the word “naja” is used by anti-PM groups like a dirty word to show the lack of concern from the PM towards a serious subject like COVID-19.]

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Carried to the crematorium

From Manager, July 5, 2021
PM Prayuth: We have to take the best care of Phuket. If there is only one tourist infected with Covid who dies our reputation is collapsed.

[To contrast this government focus on the opening of tourism on Phuket, the above part of the cartoon shows dozens of dead daily in Bangkok being carried to the crematorium.]

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Think only how to look good?

From Thairath, July 3, 2021
Title: On the back of Joy [meaning something like “behind the back of the PM who is congratulating himself on the opening of Phuket, is a sad sight”]
PM Prayuth: Welcome, country open.
From left: Was locked down; the business went bankrupt; was chose to act; the problem of quality of vaccines
Above dead man’s head: Die at home
On sheet covering dead man: The public health emergency situation for taking care of COVID.
On paper he holds: Increase of patients; Increase of deaths
Man with glasses on right: People come first.
Mouse man: Think only how to look good?
Mouse: Prayuth, get out! [the anti-government slogan]

[Refers to the many failings of the government in handling the ongoing Covid crisis while it excitedly announces the opening of the country again to tourism.]

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When you make yourself the target

From Manager, July 8, 2021
Left: REA…
Right: …SON [this means something like “at left is the cause, and at right is the result”]

[PM Prayuth is in a strange situation. He has positioned himself as a political strongman who can get things done and “bring happiness back to the people” as the government slogan goes.
However, the government, which has dictatorial power due to the current charter, does not use any of that power to expedite vaccination. It has insisted on a few vaccine choices and all efforts to approve or procure other vaccines have moved at a snails pace. It seems that adhering to the nation’s Byzantine bureaucracy is placed as the highest priority.
If the government used its power to cut through the red tape and expedite things with a sense of urgency, they would be heroes. This is what the public expects from a government with complete power. It is the only thing a government with complete power can efficiently give.
However, the government has seemingly settled on bringing up procedural issues at every turn that slow the availability of vaccines while public anger rises.]

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Failure of vaccine management

From Thairath, June 16, 2021
Title: Become a pair of targets
On man’s shirt left: People
On doctor’s shirt right: Doctors. Hospitals.
Vaccine needles from top-bottom: Failure of vaccine management; Blame the doctors and throw the responsibility away; Take benefits
On hands from top-bottom: CCSA; MOPH; Government
PM Prayuth at bottom: Listen to me; Believe me; I have never lied
Phi Nooring: People get risks.
Mouse: Live with being scared

[The country is now facing an uncertain vaccine allocation. People have had their their vaccination appointments cancelled and the hospitals have received strong complaints from the public. To make things worst, when the problems occur, those who are in charge of vaccine management including the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), and the government, denied their responsibility and blamed others.]

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The nation, hung on a brain

From Arun, June 16, 2021
On the white box: For the current situation, we will survive because of the “brain” of the leader.
On the syringe: Vaccine management
The quote: “My head works everyday, even in the dream, still thinking about work.” Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha

[Refers to the government’s failure to provide timely vaccines–even according to their own schedule. The public and numerous hospitals have criticized the government for the slow and insufficient vaccine allocation. This cartoon is sarcastic to PM Prayuth’s quote which was meant to show how hard he worked and how he was always thinking about the country.]

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Who to blame for lack of vaccines?

From Manager, June 16, 2021
On sign: Vaccination point
Man on the left: What happened… why delay my vaccination?
Caption: Only this issue, but can’t answer

[Refers to the failure of government’s ability to provide timely vaccines. This caused public anger when responsible governmental agencies could not provide an answer about the problem. It became a big news when one of the private hospital announced its cancellation of scheduled vaccines and told people who inquired about the cause to ask the Public Health Minister. From the Public Health Minister, to Public Health officials to the PM, they blamed each other without providing any clear information. Later, PM Prayuth apologized to the public for the chaotic vaccination situation.]

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Not ready!

From Thairath, June 10, 2021
Title: Do you know who is the problem?
Doctor: Doctors are ready!
Nurse: Nurses are ready!
Medical staff: Medical staff is ready!
Man with glasses: People are ready!
Woman: Business people are ready!
Girl: Students are ready!
Woman in the front: Teachers are ready!
Anutin: But the government and vaccines are not ready.
On a paper held by him: Vaccine crisis
Phi Nooring: Dance around the subject for surviving each day. [Meaning he demands the government to quit their rambling speech to avoid criticism. People want to hear the truth.]
Mouse: Good at keeping an image

[This cartoon mocks the name of government’s vaccine registration app “Doctor’s Ready” as everyone is ready for vaccination, only the government is not ready due to the shortage of vaccines.]

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Driving by

From Arun, June 8, 2021
Inside the white box: Want to see a better life, please look to the right, sir.
Inside the box in the cartoon (a quote from PM Prayuth): “I love the people. I ride in the car and look out the window everyday thinking that how I should help people whom I see to have a better life without taking anything from them in return.” This is what the PM who is in the position for 7 years still can’t figure out. [meaning he cannot figure out how to make people’s lives better]
On the building from left to right: Government officers; Senators; MPs from the coalition parties; PPRP.

[Refers to PM Prayuth’s quote during parliament. For a leader to say he sees downtrodden people as he drives by is particularly tone-deaf. The cartoonist jokes that his coalition partners such as government officers, senators, and MPs from his party seem to have better lives than others.]

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Govt gives little choice on vaccines

From Thairath, May 27, 2021
Left, Health Minister Anutin: A good vaccine is the vaccine that can quickly inoculated.
People: No…
Right: It is the vaccine that the government didn’t import. [meaning that people do not like the government-mandated vaccines and the lack of consumer choice]

[Refers to the limited vaccine options provided by the government. The government has been strongly condemned for tightly controlling vaccine procurement, leaving little choice for people. Recently, it has become controversial issue when it was announced that Sinovac was to be used for the elderly instead of Astrazeneca as planned, due to the vaccine storage.]

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The government can’t handle it

From Thairath, June 7, 2021
Title: Compete to live and die each day.
Doctor: Today, COVID vaccination increases by… people [the “…” here and below means a certain number of people that day, like he says “vaccination increases by 218,000 people”]
Paper held by doctor: People who have a vaccine injection
People from back to front: Scared of side effect; Scared to death; Scared of being infected again.
Paper held by the vaccinated man: Already vaccinated.
Medical staff member in the center: Today, the COVID infection increases by… people
Paper held by him: Patients
Medical staff member on the right: Today, the death toll of COVID infected patients increases by… people.
Paper held by him: Dead people
Papers close to dead bodies from left to right: Die at home; Aren’t being vaccinated; Can’t access the treatment; Too late for treatment.
Phi Nooring: Sad news everyday
Mouse: Don’t have an ability to handle

[Refers to the failure of the government to quickly roll out the vaccines to handle with the spread of COVID-19 in the country.]

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The opposition will flee

From Manager, June 9, 2021
Caption: When the light is coming…

[Refers to the roll out of the Astrazeneca vaccine. Amid the rumors, fake news, and stories about the safety of the vaccines spread to discredit the government and the Astrazeneca vaccine produced under the royal-owned drug company Siam Bioscience, finally the government started its vaccination on June 7, 2021.
This cartoonist contends that, as the vaccines roll out, the opposition parties who have been casting doubt on the safety of the vaccine will retreat to coffins like vampires. The cartoon shows various opposition retreating to coffins as the vaccine becomes available and is used.]

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Slipping backwards

From Arun, May 27, 2021
Inside the white box at top: 7 years after the coup, Thailand has rapidly changed, proved by the picture taken by the satellite yesterday.
Title: 7-year performance of “Prayut Chan-ocha’
Under the map: (Picture of Siamese map 200-400 years ago)

[Refers to the disappointing performance of PM Prayuth’s government after seven years in power. The cartoonist notes that under this government, the country has been moved backwards.]

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Red Shirts have another request of the Democrats

From Naewna, May 26, 2021
In B.E. 2552 I hit the car and called for resignation. This year B.E. I still follow this request to breakup the government’s coalition [and cause the government to fall]
On the car and license plate: Democrat
Caption: He put his effort in to ask for it…. why don’t you give it?

[Refers to the Red shirt leader Jatuporn who recently formed the new anti-government movement named “Thai Mai Thon” (Impatient Thais) to overthrow PM Prayuth. This was supposed to replace the waning student protests. Recently, he and his group called on the Democrat Party to leave the coalition government.
The cartoonist recalls the events of 2009 when Jatuporn and the Red Shirts launched a surprise attack on a car that they thought the then-prime minister was in, apparently in an attempt to kill him. Not finding him, the Red Shirts took hostages, later showing them off to the press in handcuffs. Meanwhile Thaksin called on the protests to continue until the government fell. (More: 2009: Red Shirts overrun ASEAN venue, take govt hostages in Bangkok) The cartoon seems to mock Jatuporn as a reasonable new protest leader, based on past events and his connection with Thaksin. Jatuporn’s new initiatives to create a purely political anti-government coalition, forswearing any mention of the monarchy, was mocked across the political spectrum, except for a few exceptions (Don’t worry, student protesters! Thaksin sends Jatuporn & Red Shirts to the rescue!).]

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We’re so scared

From Arun, May 25, 2021
Inside the white box at top: Lockdown the areas to check the Africa and India variants.
Above the gate: Uncle Tu’s house [meaning the house of PM Prayuth]
Sound from the radio: Hong hong [sound of dog barking]
On the red sign: Beware of fierce dogs [mocking the government’s insistence that their choice of two vaccines are all that is necessary; contrasting these cute dog breeds with the sounds of barking coming from a speaker probably means the government is over hyping the effectiveness of their vaccine plans]
Sign at the far left: Water and electric bills are sent to the regiment. [meaning the coup generals, who maintain their political power in the government after elections, continue to reside in military provided housing]
Two men representing the India variant of the virus say: This house is very scary! [meaning the preparations that the coup generals have pout in place will not be effective]

[This seems to mock the government, as specifically PM Prayuth’s confidence that their iron grip on handling the pandemic is best. It points out the connection with China and the firm policy of only relying on two types of vaccines. It references how these coup generals still hold power while residing in military housing after their supposed retirement.]

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No choice about PM or vaccine

From Thairath, May 17, 2021
Title: Good people… Good items… Don’t choose
PM Prayuth: [left] Must accept PM. [right] Must accept vaccines
Phi Nooring: Don’t have rights to choose the brand
Mouse: Fight against COVID

[This cartoon makes the clever observation PM Prayuth, the former coup leader, now leads the government under a system he created with the people having little chance to unseat him. Likewise, the government has decided that only two vaccines would be available in Thailand.]

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Justice for Thai Miss Universe

From Manager May 19, 2021
Protesters: Overthrow Prayuth. Reform the monarchy. Revise the constitution. Make the country become a democratic country… For Thailand not to miss the crown of Miss Universe!!!
Signs from left to right: Fight for a crown. Fight for Miss Universe. Amanda is a victim of dictator. Fight for a crown. Fight for Miss Universe
Caption: This reason may help urge people to call out.

[Refers to Thai Miss Universe Amanda Obdam who lost the Miss Universe pageant. Anti-government groups claimed the reason for her loss was because she was from a country ruled by a dictator and the cartoonist mocks this. Note the portrayal of the student protesters with their trendy hairstyles and colored hair.]

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SLOW vaccinations

From Manager, May 17, 2021
PM Prayuth: Download MohPrompt and queue up respectively [MohPrompt is the required app to register to get the vaccine]
On the wall: Vaccine service
On the door: Open 1 June
COVID-19 in the background: Kup, Aum, Jum [sounds of chewing]

[Refers to the baffling slow vaccination drive amid the rapid spread of COVID-19.]

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Karma of Thais & vaccination

From Thairath, May 13, 2021
Title: Choose to avoid death
Above the vaccine in the doctor’s hands (left): Free vaccine
Above the vaccine in the doctor’s hands (right): Paid vaccine
Phi Nooring: Death is chasing.
Mouse: Karma of Thais

[This is more anti-government tactics to sow doubt about the government vaccines. It contends that the “Karma of Thais”–that is, their place in the world and their wealth–comes into play when having to decide on vaccination.
They have to choose either a free vaccine provided by the government or, if they are lucky enough to have money, a paid vaccine which people believe has more effectiveness.
Implicit in this is the opposition allusions that the government vaccine should be avoided as it has a lower effectiveness and that the procurement of the vaccines is wrapped in obscure, big money businesses and thus should not be trusted.]

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Will the Astrazeneca be on time?

From Manager, May 27, 2021
Left, Thanathorn: If it comes on time in June… it will kill us all… [meaning the opposition has been sowing doubt about the safety and availability of the vaccines in their efforts to attack the government, so if the Astrazeneca vaccines comes on time the opposition will loose an issue they have been harping on]
Left caption: Opposition parties’ God of death
Right: If it can’t come on time in June… it will kill us all… [meaning if the Astrazeneca vaccines are not available as promised, the government will suffer a massive loss of face]
Right caption: …Government’s one.

[Refers to the roll out of Astrazeneca vaccine on time with the government’s announcemeed June 7 deadline. To maintain this self-imposed deadline, the government planned to use Sinovac on the elderly instead of Astrazeneca since they are still unable to produce enough in quantity. However, the government maintains all the does have been transferred to the government on time.]

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Fear of covid and the govt vaccines

From Thairath, May 27, 2021
Dr. Taweesin on TV at left: People increasingly are infected everyday. New variants become outbreaks.
On the TV on the left: CCSA
PM Prayuth on TV at right: Encourage Thai people to get COVID vaccines as much as possible. This should be the ‘national agenda’
People in the back row: Afraid of a virus to transfer to a new variant; No rights to choose [the vaccine], Only two vaccines can be used [referring to the government stranglehold on vaccine procurement]; Afraid of the side effects causing to die
People in the front row: Afraid of Covid infection and dying at home; The government fails to manage the vaccine [meaning production is slow]; Vaccines are not insufficient.
Phi Nooring: Taking a benefit from the vaccine
Mouse: Excited everyday

[Refers to the vaccine crisis in the country after the government is trying to encourage people to be vaccinated. Amid people’s distrust about China’s Sinovac vaccine, this cartoon illustrates that while people are afraid of rapid increase of COVID-19 outbreak daily reported by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), they are also mad about having no choice in the vaccine they receive.]

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Can Pinocchio handle it all?

From Thairath, May 10, 2021
Title: Popular wood doll
On the chair: Power [the doll is PM Prayuth as Pinocchio]
People’s statements: Handle COVID; Search for COVID vaccines; Don’t let people die at home; People’s relief measures; Problem with people’s living; Problem with damaged economy
Phi Nooring: Angry Wood Doll
Mouse: Sit still, Look pretty

[Refers to PM Prayuth who is facing a severe outbreak of COVID-19. It shows that PM Prayuth, who is know for his flashes of anger, sitting in the chair of power as he is accused of not being prepared for the outbreak.]

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Questioning the vaccines

From Manager, May 10, 2021
Foreigners: We are a hundred million of population from 20 countries… inoculated with Astra and Sinovac and they have good effectiveness… Why don’t you believe?
Thai man: I don’t believe… My dog says it’s a low quality.

[Refers to the distrust of Thai people toward the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vacinnes.
Anti-government groups and opposition politicians tried to discredit the vaccines, questioning their safety and the lack of transparency of their procurement, linking them to China and CP Group which is a shareholder in Siam Bioscience which is producing AstraZeneca in the country.
It is likely that government insistence, over many months, to only use these two vaccines, may have led to public suspicion as well.
Due to this, many people are afraid of the government-mandated vaccines and prefer to wait for vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.
The cartoonist says those who have been influenced by the opposition to question the vaccines are receiving wrong information.
In Thai, “dog” is “mah” while doctor is “moh.” So it contends that those rejecting the vaccines are confusing the bark of their dog, “mah” (the opposition), with the advice of a doctor or “moh.”]

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Truly speaking team vs Truly dying team

From Thairath, May 4, 2021
Title: Truly speaking team vs Truly dying team
At left, government team, left to right: PM puts a lot of effort to deal with COVID problem; Inoculate vaccines for 50 million people within the end of the year; Patients, who can’t find hospital beds, don’t give up; Thais don’t drop your guards; It has become worse, but still afraid of people’s gossip [this last on seems to refer to PM Prayuth who admitted the growing covid toll, but warned people not to gossip about him and the stability of the government]
On the toes of the dead, left to right: Died at home; Died because of a late treatment; Die increasingly everyday.
Phi Nooring: God doesn’t help.
Mouse: This team is only good at speaking.

[Refers to the failure of the government in dealing with the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country. It contrasts the positive messages with the realities of a government unable to deal with increasing numbers of infected.]

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Scared of the virus and the vaccine

From Thairath, May 3, 2021
Title: Run away from the tiger then meet the crocodile instead
On bottle: Vaccine
Phi Nooring: From a hope, but turn to fear.
Mouse: Lost confidence

[This refers to the alleged fear of vaccines, especially Sinovac from China. This is part of the opposition strategy to criticize the government over its slow vaccination efforts and alleged corruption in the vaccination procurement by raising concerns about the safety of vaccines. However, recently the Move Forward Party reversed its position and urged people to get vaccinated. The cartoon illustrates the dilemma as Thai proverb “run away from the tiger then meet the crocodile instead” which is similar to the the English proverb “out of the frying pan, into the fire.”]

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David Streckfuss got married

From Manager, May 4, 2021
Teenager: Teacher… Thailand sucks like you said… I want to leave this country, how should I do?
David Streckfuss: Marry with the lady from that country.
Caption: Must ask teacher David

[Refers to American scholar David Streckfuss who worked at Khon Kaen University and specializes in the lese majeste law. He also works as a head of news outlet “The Isaan Record.” The university recently terminated his work permit affecting his visa due to his political activities. Of course, authorities, in the Thai way, blame all this on procedures that have nothing to do with Streckfuss’ work.

Later, he married a staff member who works as the editor of “The Isaan Record.” Many people believed that his marriage was a tactical move in the efforts to extend his visa and staying in Thailand to continue his writing on lese majeste issues.

Meanwhile, in efforts to get Penguin and other activists released, small numbers of protesters, led by REDEM, gathered before the courts building, threw red paint on the building’s signs and threw firecrackers at authorities. At the time, it seemed the authorities were steadfast in their bail denials insisting, among other things, that those being bailed must agree not to recommit the offense for which they were charged.

All of this caused great frustration in anti-government camps, especially as the public seemed little interested in the drama as the third wave of covid was growing. The fighting by the courts was slavishly covered on Twitter, but the media, no doubt influenced by the military-dominated government, generally held back from any on-the-spot journalism, instead writing after-the-fact articles, summing up the events.

As this was happening, a Facebook group was started, expressing the the desire to leave the country over the perceived injustice of the government and courts in not releasing Penguin and the other student protest leaders on bail. It quickly gained hundred of thousands of followers. Some foreign embassies, perhaps not well-informed and not understanding the political message of the group–that Thailand was a failed and unjust state–posted articles promoting their nations as pleasant places for Thais to live.

The teenagers portrayed in this cartoon express this sentiment, asking how he could be able to leave the country over his frustration and live overseas. Then the joke is that the revered foreign academic, seen by many as a lone voice against Thailand’s lese majeste law, decided to get married to enable him to stay in Thailand.

The Manager cartoonists are always quick to mock to student protesters when it seems they are overstating their sense of oppression. Another example of this: Don’t let Myanmar become Thailand]

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