More protest culture examined (thank you Gigi for your translation!) at this recent protest at Sanam Luang (สนามหลวง) with its melange of anti-government groups lingering on this royal cremation ground where kings and queens and other highly born have been burned since the time of King Rama I. Where else but at a protest in Thailand would we see such a syncretic display of resentment against the powers that be. From free haircuts to a Siamese King’s interpretation of an English poet’s war poem to the basest of insults, to masked allusions to a 17th century English rebel.
Yingluck’s speech in Mongolia back in April at the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies enraged many ultra royalists. Her money quote:
“This is because there are people in this world who do not believe in democracy. They are ready to grab power and wealth through suppression of freedom. This means that they are willing to take advantage of other people without respecting human rights and liberties. They use force to gain submission and abuse the power.”
Thanong Khanthong is the oracle of the mystical Siam and offers a poetic way out of the troubles in Thailand.
“Donation point: central cooking.”
If there is a protest in Thailand there is going to be protest cuisine to be sure. Both Napolean’s army and Thai protesters march on their stomachs.
“Your brother’s fault—you see a mountain
your fault—it’s the hair on your arm
your brother farts—sewage
you fart—a flower
virtue is not for sale— it comes from within.”
Citizen poetry loosely translated.
“What do you think? How do we solve the nation’s problem together?”
“The Cremation Area Salon: Free Barber Gentlemen & Ladies”
“Travel from afar to save the Kingdom.
At this moment only our power can save our land.”
A poem is also shown:
“Come and protest with us and if you die you are a soldier.
You will have paid back something to the country.”
A translation of excerpts from William Wordworth’s “The Character of the Happy Warrior” (1806) commemorating the famous British naval commander Horatio Nelson’s death in the Battle of Trafalgar. King Bhumipol’s translates the English into a Thai poetic version. A translation below:
“Who is the happy Warrior…
That every man in arms would wish to be?
—It is the generous spirit…
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed…
Turns his necessity to glorious gain…
And in himself possess his own desire…
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
For wealth, or honors, or for worldly state…
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw.”
A group from southern Isan pleading for people to come and “volunteer to protect Thailand.”
Gotmai (means law, but with the final consonant absent means dog law, an insult.)
“We don’t use yaw yak (Thai consonant) because the government uses the dog law to rule the country. Dumb people are dogs who take money.”
Donation boxes: donate and get dvd’s of political propaganda.
“Sign to show you don’t support decision of world court.” (Regarding World Court’s decision about Preah Vihear.)
“His ancestors were water monitor lizards.”
This piece of post modern art is referring to none other than Plodprasop Suraswadi, a Deputy Prime Minister, known for his nuanced bedside manner in dealing with opponents, various environmental groups, who he described as ai hia, water monitor lizards. He later apologized.
I don’t know why this monitor lizard is the Thai patron saint of assholes, but I will certainly try to get to the bottom of this.
“Our country is not a toy, Mr Taksin, it’s not something you can play with…”
“The government fund is to steal (gin: eat)
The country is for sale
The law is for breaking
Our votes are bought
Media is for propaganda
Democracy is a facade.”
More images below from the anti-government rally back in November:
Below editorial cartoons from the Thai newspaper Manager last November translated by 2Bangkok.com:
“Thaksin Shinawatra says to his sister: Stuff in as much as you can, Nong Daw. Don’t worry about those who are making noise outside. So long as we have these 15 million buffaloes to prevent them, we can keep stuffing ourselves… ”
On shirts of the men: Taxpayers
Man on the left: Let’s go to the King Rama V ground tomorrow.
Man on the right: I surely am going!!!
Caption: After 1 year of suppression… they start to find a way out.
[Red buffaloes refer to Red Shirt group’s supporters who have benefited from the government’s populist policies. This cartoon encourages people to join the November 24 protest to stand up against government policies to benefit the Red Shirts.]
In the U.S. President Barack Obama’s hand reads: Thaa
President Obama: I don’t want it… But she forced it [into my hand].
Caption: A souvenir from Yingluck
[At Obama’s side is the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. On the rear building’s ladder are Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Foreign Minister Surapong Towichakchaikul. The point being made is that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ‘gave thaa’ or ‘hai thaa’ to President Obama. ‘Hai thaa’ in Thai is saying means ‘flirting’ or ‘seductive.’ Like other women who dare to present themselves in a prominent way in the Thai world, Yingluck is criticized for being flirtatious.]
Below a montage of the red shirt protest in June 2012. Notice their own use of the monitor lizard and water buffalo. A few royalist counter protestors thrown in for good measure: