Tag: Thai political cartoons

Buffaloes, Crabs, Lizards: Thai protests October-November 2013

 

 

Thailand is a land in perpetual protest about, well, just about everything.  Thai protests bring new meaning to the expression “24/7” as their stages don’t stop at all during these protests.  It’s all day and all night talking, speaking, cajoling, screaming, singing.  Thailand also brings an entirely new meaning to the Occupy Movement where one doesn’t merely occupy a street or an area around a symbol of corruption—one actually occupies the symbol.  And of course a Thai occupation must be in style with proper protest food, music, and branding of all sorts: clappers, t-shirts, whistles, wristbands and the sort.  Profanity and politeness exist together closely at these protests with nasty graffiti about Yingluck and her brother, insults at police officers, the next minute it’s prayers and flowers for everyone.  Monitor lizards and buffaloes are seen all throughout the artwork.

Below are propaganda images from the anti-Thaksin protests:

At issue is a majority in parliament pursuing its interests over the will of the minority, corruption, and vote buying.  The commentariat has provided an array of perspectives from both sides.  Thai mainstream commentators from the English language press have offered much of the same in their treatment of Thaksin as an evil octopus with his tentacles reaching every part of the realm poisoning everything he touches.   The Nation’s Pornpimol Kanchanalak, editorialist and fugitive from American justice, weighed in.  In an editorial she lectured the Western media about the assumptions that cloud their understanding of Thai politics.  Ms. Kanchanalak discusses Thaksin Shinawatra’s role in Thai politics, conceding that Thaksin had his strengths:

“His adviser, Pansak Vinyarat, genuinely cared about the rural poor, and together they executed numerous populist policies and hand-outs, including the Bt1-million village fund, one village-one bicycle scheme, one village-one scholarship, one village-one buffalo, one village-one product, welfare housing, welfare taxis, and so on. Thaksin’s first year in office was his finest as a public servant. The rural poor looked to him as their saviour, someone who really cared. They knew they were only getting the “crumbs” of Thailand’s wealth, but at least they were getting something for a change.”

She then goes on to discuss where Thaksin went wrong when the lure of power and money blinded him.  She makes many allegations, but offers no evidence, save for this bit about specific jobs for Thaksin’s cronies:

“Please also look into those who occupy the boards of state enterprises. You will find plenty of red-shirt leaders, their families and cronies among them. And please take the time to read the well-researched accounts of just where the rivers of money have flowed from all the government subsidy programmes.”

Much is said about “corruption” but we see little evidence in the form of statistics, state jobs and political affiliation, or charts and graphs of where “populist” monies go.  Kanchanalak’s argument is thus dissipated.  Thailand could use some quality investigative journalism in this area.

Thai protest propaganda

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a professor at Kyoto University, offers a different point of view of the recent political turmoil:

“The Thai crisis has partly echoed the anxiety of the Bangkok elite as Thais are approaching the sunset of the Bhumibol reign. This shift of political landscape will cause an impact on their wealth and social status. The anxiety has served as a driving force behind the hatred campaign against Thaksin, seen as an adversary of the monarchy.”

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a moderate observer of Thai politics offers a middle path:

“In the future, the forces of elected power will have to show more integrity and policymaking skill. They will need to bolster the trust of voters and avoid abuses of power. The forces of appointed and unelected authority will have to come up with electoral legitimacy and policy delivery to cater to the vast majority of the electorate. They need to at least have a chance at triumphing at the polls.”

Lizzie Presser  offers a great view of a woman from Isan who has been helped by Thaksin’s programs.

Thai protest propaganda

Yes, those are chopped off heads!

Thai protest propaganda

1. Thai people pay tax so prostitute can have a holiday (criticizing her taking so many trips)


Protest culture: June ’12 – July ’13

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.

 

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“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.

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“What do you think?  How do we solve the nation’s problem together?”

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“The Cremation Area Salon: Free Barber Gentlemen & Ladies”

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“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.”

poem

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.”

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A group from southern Isan pleading for people to come and “volunteer to protect Thailand.”

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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.”

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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.)

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“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.

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“Our country is not a toy, Mr Taksin, it’s not something you can play with…”

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“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:

Stuff in

“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… ”

 

Taxpayers

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.]

 

Yingluck flirting

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: