All about Samak Sundaravej

Forgive - ASTVManager, cartoon “Obamark” by Bancha/Kamin, November 25, 2009
The crowd is shouting "Forgive each other" [literally "forgive"] in front of the gate at Bamrungrad Hospital where Samak passed away. The caption at the bottom right says “Yesterday, many Thais said this word.” At left are ghosts of those lynched and tortured during the events of 1976 and at the right at Truth Today (Red Shirt) supporters.
[It is Thai Buddhist tradition to say "forgive you" and "forgive me" to the dead so that the spirit of the dead can be at peace. The Manager's Buncha usually pulls no punches in his cartoons. Here the deceased Samak is cursed for his role in the 1976 massacres, the 1992 Black May deaths, and the deaths at the gates of parliament in 2008. The cartoon ridicules the People Power Party's insistence that all people (meaning Thaksin) must be forgiven for past wrongdoing.]

Remembering Samak - November 26, 2009

Komchadluek, September 5, 2008

Right: The headlines read: Samak turns the game to avoid Army resistance - Seizing back power to prevent Anupong from staging coup - Orders forces to suppress the people
No resignation, no parliament dissolution - “Tej resignation is due to his wife” - Move on public referendum

Above: Daily News, November 26, 2009
The headline reads: The passing away of ‘Samak Sundaravej,’ former Prime Minister, ending of a legendary ‘politician’, inventor of the Chimpai Bonpai ["Tasting and Complaining," Samak's cooking show]

Above: Daily News, November 26, 2009
The headline reads: Samak manifesting power by showing up at Parliament

[This refers to news about the spirit of Samak showing up at parliament shortly after he died early in the morning on Monday. The Vice Senate Speaker pointed out that a photo of Samak appeared on Senate monitors around the time he died. Below is a close up from INN showing the image of a waiing Samak from a webpage that was broadcast on the Senate monitors at that time.]

(Source: INN)

Above: ASTVManager, November 25, 2009
The headline reads: Samak Sundaravej - passing away, but his speech talent is immortal [referring to his sharp tongue]
The headline on the right: Stop the ‘wicked red’ [referring to the Red Shirts] - Security bill to launch in metropolitan [area] - Keeping watch that "Maew" might show up at the border [referring to Thaksin's comments that if he were to enter Thailand he would cross over into the Northeast where many support him before heading to Bangkok]
The headline next to the photo of PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila reads: Revealing the five step plan - "Dubai declaration" - Maew as country CEO
The reds stir up a mess in Chiang Mai - Thai tours reduced - Foreign tours cancelled

Above: ASTVManager, November 25, 2009
The headline reads:Samak Sundaravej - passing away, but his speech talent is immortal [referring to his sharp tongue]
[The blond in the lower left corner is sticking up from another story on the page.]

Above: ASTVManager, November 25, 2009
The headline reads: Samak Sundaravej - The passing away of the immortal conservative [referring to Samak's right-wing politics]

Above: Daily News, November 26, 2009 - Undated photo of Samak and family

Samak dies of cancer - The Nation, November 24, 2009

Thailand has lost a great politician: Noppadon - The Nation, November 24, 2009

Left: Young Samak

The long twilight of the Bangkok Governor - June 7, 2004

Governor Samak's mass transit plans remembered - Matichon Daily, January 5, 2004

Manit Sriwanichpoom's "Pink Man" series (right) was in part inspired to question a new, materialistic generation who would support right-wing figures from the 1970s like Samak.
(Image: Manit Sriwanichpoom)

Samak on newspaper front pages from August, 2008

Samak editorial cartoons from September 2008

Samak under pressure, September 4-5, 2008

Samak on newspaper front pages from September 10-13, 2008

A master at making controversial statements:
Angry reaction to Samak’s 'Suu Kyi is a Tool' remark - The Irrawaddy, August 26, 2008
Historians reject PM's 'distortions' - The Nation, February 18, 2008
Sidelines: Samak spits venom as Thaksin's nominee - The Nation, August 26, 2007
A mention of the classic "sinful sex" insult - The Nation, November 9, 2007

Samak on Wikipedia - BBC

From Phujatkhan, September 4, 2008 - Editorial cartoon showing PM Samak signing the Emergency Degree with the blood of the deceased protester.


About Samak Sundaravej in the years before he became PM

Samak Sundaravej is a colorful personality. He was part of the cabinet in 1976 and has been accused by the media of allegedly being involved in radio campaigns at the time that drove mobs to storm Thammasat University. Samak served in various subsequent governments as leader of the Prachakorn Thai party, including a stint as Deputy Prime Minister in Baharn's government in the mid-1990s alongside Thaksin and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

He had a colorful run as the popularly elected Bangkok Governor, confounding critics who questioned why Bangkokians would elect a personality from the dictatorial era. As governor he initiated many plans, among them an ambitious ring rail plan, canceling the art museum project in favor of a shopping center, proposals for underground parking structures under the BMA plaza and Sanam Luang, redevelopment ideas for the Rattanakosin island area, and the corn cob apartments (a folksy scheme to design low-cost housing along the pattern of a corn cob). Samak also worked hard to get the delayed Skytrain extensions started, but was unsuccessful.
Eventually, most of his ideas came to nothing or were reversed and the media poked fun at the 'Long Twilight of the Bangkok Governor'.

Despite being at odds with the central government when he was governor of Bangkok (the city government and central government are traditionally at odds), after Samak left office he began a series of talk shows along with media commentator and former senator Dusit Siriwan that consistently supported government polices and attacked its critics.

(Source: Channel 9, MCOT)

During 2005 and 2006, Samak had a talk show every weekday at 11:30 on state-run TV 9, along with Dusit Siriwan. The pair also have a similar talk show on channel 5 and on radio.

On these programs they expressed views on current events and commented on issues suggested by viewers via SMS. These views included relentless criticism of the National Reconciliation Commission (the group supposedly charged with finding solutions to the problems in the South) and attacks against its chairman, Anand Panyarachun. Critics who oppose the government's handling of events in the South also came under fire.

Old-style nationalistic issues are also repeated, such as the contention that only one foreigner was killed in the events of October 6, 1976 when right-wing mobs overran Thammasat University.

Samak's shows

Chao Nee Tee Muang Thai (This Morning in Thailand) - Channel 5
Samak Dusit Kid Tam Wan (Daily Views (or Daily Thoughts) by Samak and Dusit) - Channel 9
Kho Tet Ching Wan Ni (The Facts of Today) - FM 94

Critics called their programs "hate-spewing shows" and demanded they be taken off the air in the same way the Thaksin government removed various anti-government programs. They allege that the show were similar to broadcasts made in the run-up to the October 6, 1976 events that stirred hatred against protesting students.

Samak and Dusit have been quoted as saying their
shows "mirror society's opinions" and in some respects this may be true. Right-wing views do have a prominent place in Thai society, even though they may not be apparent to the casual observer. There is a belief that those who set themselves up in opposition to authority or openly protest have failed and are tainted because they are breaking the social compact that requires avoidance of confrontation. This feeling leads to suspicion about all those who 'oppose'--NGOs, activists, and those who appear to oppose nationalistic interests such as maintaining order at all costs in the South.

Thai humor: The Samak-Dusit Show needs the NRC to criticize - October 31, 2005
Poojadkuan jokes: Government house: Maew [nickname of PM Thaksin] declared no matter what he will absolutely not dissolve the National Reconciliation Commission. He is worried that the TV program “Daily Views,” hosted by Samak and Dusit, may have no issue to complain about. And one thing Maew is afraid of is that Thai people will not have a news analysis program like “Daily Views” to watch. [This is because Samak and Dusit constantly criticize the National Reconciliation Commission.]

More Poojadkuan columns

Petition to be lodged against Samak, Dusit - Bangkok Post, October 8, 2005
...All participants agreed that Mr Samak and Mr Dusit had distorted facts in their remarks, aired on television Channels 5 and 9 and the 94MHz radio station, that only one person was killed in the incident and that the victim was not Thai but a "Yuan," understood to refer to communist insurgents from Vietnam.
They also agreed that Mr Samak and Mr Dusit were playing unconstructive roles as members of the media, especially when mentioning violence in the deep South which could cause suspicion and hatred and lead to bloody clashes.
...Pitthaya Wongkul, chairman of the Campaign for Democracy, said the broadcast media was still the government's tool, as it was before the Oct 14, 1973 uprising when the junta government controlled radio and television stations. State-controlled broadcast media, especially the Yan Kroh radio channel in 1976, aired programmes that incited people's hatred against students, and those with opposing views to the government were considered security threats, he said. He said although Mr Samak and Mr Dusit had shown respect to the country, religion and the monarch then, they were now using their programmes to defend the government and slander the opposition...

SAMAK-PREM UPROAR - Samak calls it a day - The Nation, February 13, 2006
TV commentator Samak Sundaravej and co-host Dusit Siriwan announced Monday that they would stop hosting all radio and TV programs following uproar over their criticism against the privy council chairman...

89.75 - translated and summarized from Manager, August 10, 2006
Mungkorndum (Black Dragon), alias of Mr. Thornchai Sakmungkorn, who cohosts with Mr. Samak Sunthornvet on 89.75 Mhz, Unity Radio. This is a community radio station that supports Thaksin and the government and will criticize people or organizations that are anti-government. Recently, it criticized the court that imprisoned Election Commission members.

Samak is back! - translated and summarized from Manager, August 17, 2006
Samak-Dusit are ready to come back to the microphone. They have the role of Maew’s [nickname of PM Thaksin] mouthpiece through the radio waves after Newin sent someone to discuss with Channel 9 to clear time for two radio programs, 100.5 and 96.5 Mhz. These will start start on Monday, August 21.

Union opposes Samak's return - Bangkok Post, August 23, 2006
The labour union of Mcot Plc is opposed to the Mcot radio programme rearrangement to accommodate senator-designate Samak Sundaravej, staging a comeback as a guest commentator on a radio talk show on FM 100.5. The reprogramming is seen as an attempt by a certain politician to interfere with the media, the union said in a statement released yesterday.
The union said the order to include Mr Samak in the programme did not come from the manager of the radio station.
But it had been dictated by someone with a higher authority who put in a specific request to have Mr Samak back on the air, the union said. Starting Monday, the 4pm to 5pm show would be broadcast from Monday to Friday...

Samak, Dusit make hasty exit after brief radio comeback - Bangkok Post, August 25, 2006
...The source said the labour union, which earlier demanded the duo be taken off the air for allegedly stirring divisions within society, may have had a lot to do with their decision to call it a day.
The union earlier made known its willingness to testify before the Election Commission, or a court, if there were a case in the future involving politicians using state media to canvass for votes.
The source said political figures close to a major party had brought the two into the programme, but then told them to quit. They feared that if the duo made political comments they would favour the major party and get it into trouble with the EC...

Samak hits back below the belt - The Nation, November 8, 2007
"Who did you fornicate with last night?" Samak asked a female reporter from Nation News Agency, an affiliate of The Nation...

Samak the right choice for People's Power - Bangkok Post, August 2, 2007
...Mr Samak has a strong support base in Bangkok, where he was elected member of parliament several times. His constituency, Dusit district, has a big concentration of army personnel. He also enjoys huge support among members of the national police force...

Samak ad - Matichon, September 1, 2006
MV1 - See every truth that you cannot watch and listen to from others... by Samak Suthornvej and his team from satellite television station MV1 and local cable TV network all over the country. If you are interested contact call center 02 467 1999.
"Talk on the country's problems" program every day at 07:00-08:30.
Watch on the internet at or

More on Troubles in the South and Nationalism and Right-wing Politics
More from the Thai-language press: Thai-language newspaper headlines and editorials - Also: War and Peace at the Southern Border - Survey of Fah Diaw Kan - Poojadkuan columns - The end of a dayweekly - Thaksin dictionary