57 Years Ago: Sarit deposes Phibul

57 Years Ago: Sarit deposes Phibul – St. Petersburg Times, September 18, 1957
[Thanks to Tom for pointing this out.]
…Army commander Sarit Thanarat moved yesterday to set up a new government which he pledged would not swerve from the pro-Western policies of ousted premier P. Pibulsonggram. Sarit, recently forced to resign a cabinet post, toppled the Pibulsonggram leadership in a swift, bloodless coup. Sarit also removed another foe and strongman, Gen. Phao Sriyanond who commanded Thailand’s 40,000-man police force.
…Thailanders are considered the gayest people of the Far East. When it comes to politics and government, in the words of one of their critics “they just don’t give a damn…”

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Nine years ago: Thaksin cancels Sondhi’s show, keeps Samak’s right-wing show that supports him

Nine years ago: Thaksin cancels Sondhi’s show, keeps Samak’s right-wing show that supports him

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The karma god may have a hidden agenda


From Manager, August 28, 2014
Man: Why do you only take care about the henchmen?… When it comes to Thaksin and his family, you’ve touched them… Did you made any secret deal with him?
Sign on Karma seat’s platform: Karma [revenge seekers]
News paper headline: Seh Pia coma, admitted to hospital
Caption: The karma [god] may have a hidden agenda like somebody.
[Seh Pia is Col. Apiwan Viriyachai, a Red Shirt leader and monarchy critic. The newspaper refers to the report of his illness from pneumonia on August 27 while on the run in the Philippines.
This means that, for all the self-serving damage Thaksin has caused since his rule and afterwards, he seems lucky enough to always bounce back while his henchmen, like Apiwan, have taken the heat of karma for their actions.]

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Eight Years Ago Today: Hat Yai Blasts
วันนี้เมื่อ 8 ปีที่แล้ว : ระเบิดที่หาดใหญ่


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Hat Yai Blasts

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Chuwit meme–Congratulations to the new PM

Since the coup, political gadfly Chuwit Kamolvisit has been using Photoshop to create humorous graphics about the political situation. Many of these have become memes widely circulated in Thai-language social media.

August 29, 2014:
Congratulations to the new PM. In this period, no one is more suitable than you are. However, I’m curious that if people have some problems, who is the one that they should inform–either Gen. Prayuth the PM or Gen.Prayuth the NCPO [the junta] leader?
[Like many editorial cartoons and editorials, this mocks the overlapping roles of Gen. Prayuth who is holding two key roles in governing the country. One is the prime minister and another is the head of the junta. The implication is that this raises concerns on transparency and the powers of his government.]

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Please return happiness to the rubber planters

From Thairath, August 27, 2014
Cartoon title: Please return happiness to the rubber planters.
Left: Yingluck government
Signs from the front: Plummeting rubber price; ousting the government; Not 80 baht per kg., we want 100 baht
Man in the front: If not 100 baht, the government must get out.
On the man’s shirt: D.P. [Democrat Party]
Right: NCPO government [the National Council for Peace and Order, the post-coup junta]
Signs from the front: Plummeting rubber price; rubber price is down to 50 baht per kg.; protesting
Man in the front: Let’s stop growing rubber plants and raise cows instead.
On the man’s shirt: D.P. [Democrat Party]
Mouse: So that more variety to eat
[This shows how rubber farmers were pressuring the Pheu Thai government to support prices in the same way they were doing for rice farmers. However, as the south (where rubber planters are) is not a stronghold of Pheu Thai support, the government was unenthusiastic about doing so.
Now that the junta has deposed the Pheu Thai government and rubber prices are still low, rubber farmers are not agitating for the government to step down as they did when the Pheu Thai was in power. This is supposed to point out how the rubber planters' protests were politically motivated and not about low prices at all.]

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Bloodbath in Paradise

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Bloodbath in Paradise

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Military shutting up the ASTV Manager Group

From Manager, August 26, 2014
Man on couch: Our favorite satellite TV channel is going to broadcast again.
His wife: So excited…
Soldier on chair: Done… prepare to be on the air now.
[Man having his mouth stitched shut is Sondhi Limthongkul, owner of the ASTV Manager Group.
Reference is to the National Council for Peace and Order command dated August 24 permitting additional 12 satellite TV channels, including ASTV TV, to be on air again. However, "political" stations are not allowed to air contentious opinions.]

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Wait out the junta

From Komchadluek, August 26, 2014
Thaksin: During this period, we should hibernate and wait until the NCPO is gone. Then, we’ll come out.
On the boot: The NCPO
[Refers to the Thai idiom "a frog is hibernating." It means being quiet and biding one's time in anticipation of taking action later. This cartoon reflects the belief that the long quiet after the coup from both the Pheu Thai and the Red Shirts was due to an order from Thaksin to wait out the junta and take action once time and circumstances have weakened it.]

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Eight Years Ago Today: Thailand’s Prime Minister, a ‘Caretaker’ on a Roll
วันนี้เมื่อ 8 ปีที่แล้ว : นายกประเทศไทยรักษาการณ์ชั่วคราว

Thailand’s Prime Minister, a ‘Caretaker’ on a Roll

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It is not a democracy

From Arun, August 30, 2014
Title: The World is shock!! Children’s dream is gone when the company reveals that Hello Kitty is not a cat.
Left: Shocks the world
Above Hello Kitty: It is not a cat.
Right: Shocks Thailand.
Above the democracy monument: It is not a democracy.
[This contrasts the news from Japan about the nature of the Hello Kitty character with the nature of the military government in Thailand.]

From Komchadluek, September 1, 2014
Mother: The fact is it is not a democracy, but it’s a girl.
[Another cartoon on the same theme. This mimics the news on Hello Kitty which revealed that the character is not a cat, but a girl.]

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Unhappiness for the farmer

From Thairath, August 26, 2014
Title: Over-down the wall
On a paper held by Prayuth: Return the happiness’ popularity
On papers held by a farmer: rice price, agricultural product price, rubber price
Phi Nooring: Happiness is stabbed down.
A mouse: Return happiness to the farmers
[The cartoon shows that Gen. Prayuth, leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the newly appointed PM, is happy with his high popularity. However, his government has failed to solve farmers’ problems concerning agricultural prices.]

Posted in Editorial Cartoons - Thairath - Sia | Leave a comment

Shinawatra II, Chan-ocha I

From Komchadluek, August 26, 2014
Thaksin: See!! We almost had a hat-trick, but why does this family name show up?
On the board: Shinawatra II, Chan-ocha I
[Refers to the two Shinawatras who became prime ministers--Thaksin and Yingluck--and now Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha who is threatening to block any further Shinawatra from holding the post.]

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Eight Years Ago: Editorial cartoons from before the 2006 coup

Eight Years Ago: Editorial cartoons before the 2006 coup

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10 years ago: Thaksin orders Education Ministry to prepare for Thailand’s hosting of 2016 Olympics

10 years ago: Thaksin orders Education Ministry to prepare for Thailand’s hosting of 2016 Olympics

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Al Jazeera bemoans “heavy-handed” crackdown on illegal vendors in Phuket

Thai anti-corruption drive hits Phuket hard – aljazeera.com, Spetember 12, 2014
Demolition of makeshift bars, restaurants and vendor stands deprives many locals of their sole means of livelihood…

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11 years ago: Mad scramble as Thai police fight for 10 million dollar reward for capturing top al-Qaeda figure

11 years ago: Mad scramble as Thai police fight for 10 million dollar reward for capturing top al-Qaeda figure

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10 years ago: Going after Ekkayuth

10 years ago: Going after Ekkayuth

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Animated videos lauding Thaksin–He always “defies his fate”

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Above: The accomplishments of Thaksin and his family–launching Thai-owned satellites

Below: The official music video

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Above: Thaksin as a heroic police officer

Below: Part one of the story of Thaksin’s life

After months of silence, Pheu Thai, Red Shirt leaders making public appearances after getting Thaksin okay – The Nation, September 12, 2014
…On Tuesday, Panthongtae again posted the message: “In two days and everyone will stop missing him”, along with the YouTube link (youtube.com/thaksinstory).
The link leads to a 2.14-minute animation clip, titled “Ta Doo Dao, Thao Tid Din” (Looking at Stars with Feet on the Ground), depicting Thaksin’s life.
The lyrics in the accompanying soundtrack say: “Looking at the stars with feet on the ground, this is Thaksin who always defies his fate.”
The clip ends with the words “coming soon” in English…

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10 years ago: Thaksin’s increasing anger and boldness

10 years ago: Thaksin’s increasing anger and boldness

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Kamnan Sticker app

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Above: The Kamnan Sticker app featuring anti-Pheu Thai government protest leader Suthep. Suthep started his political career as a village headman or “kamnan.”

Website of the developer

Earlier: Tourist Police Mascot: Lieutenant Change
Earlier: Gen. Prayuth Army Sticker app

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Weekly News Magazines, September 5, 2014

The Nation_5 Aug 2014

From Nation Weekend, September 5, 2014
Cover reads: The Cabinet Ship of friends and brothers
[Reference is to the new cabinet under Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha as Prime Minister. Of the total 32 ministers, 12 are from the armed forces, such as the retired Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan who is Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister in the cabinet. Some of them also work at the National Council for Peace and Order which is the military junta.]

Matichon_5 Aug 2014

From Matichon Weekly, September 5, 2014
Cover reads: The flower at the end of the barrel
[Reference is to Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Chairperson of Toshiba Thailand, and one of the only two women to join the NCPO's cabinet. Mrs. Kobkarn was approached to be minister of the Tourism and Sports Ministry. The other is Mrs. Apiradee Tantraporn, a retired civil servant from the Ministry of Commerce to be Deputy Commerce Minister.
The headline indicates these women are the gentler side of a military-dominated government.]

ASTV Manager_6 Sept 2014

From ASTV Manager Weekly, September 6, 2014
Cover reads: M.L. Rungkhun Kitiyakar, stock trader on energy reform
[Reference is to M.L. Rungkhun's comment on the national energy saga recently posted on his Facebook page which generated a wide range of reactions both pro- and con-.
M.L. Rungkhun is the son of the Miss Universe 1965, Apasara Hongsakula and M.R. Kiattikhun Kitiyakara and graduated in photography and decorating design from St. Martin, England.
He currently manages his mother's beauty business, 'Apasara Beauty Slimming Spa.' He started to be interested in politics with a focus on national energy over a year ago. He makes a critical comment, in this cover story, on the country's energy policy.]

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Prayuth vows crackdown on anti-monarchists, “top priority” of his administration

Prayuth Vows Tougher Crackdown On Anti-Monarchists – Khaosod, September 11, 2014
Gen. Prayuth outlined a strategy to “defend” the monarchy in a speech he is due to give to his puppet parliament, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), on Friday…
“We will use legal measures, social-psychological measures, and telecommunications and information technology in dealing with those who are not mindful of their words, are arrogant at heart, or harbour the ill intention to undermine the important Institution of the nation,” the speech reads…

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Crackdown on the Men in Black

Police arrest 5 infamous ‘men in black’ for 2010 protest violenceBangkok Post, September 11, 2014
…Five soldiers were killed in the April 10, 2010 clash that began as soldiers tried to clear out protest camps at the Khok Wua intersection near Democracy Monument, Tanao Road and adjacent zones in Bangkok. Among the dead was senior army officer Col Romklao Thuwatham.
The shadowy “men in black” remain one of the lasting images of the 2010 protests by red-shirted supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who were rallying against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government.
Their existence – and what they had done – became almost folklore as people on both sides of the conflict attributed a number of shootings and bomb attacks to the dark-clad figures.

Five arrested, two sought for killing of military officersThe Nation, September 11, 2014
…Romklao and four other army officials were killed during a military crackdown on red shirt protesters in 2010 at Kok Wua intersection when grenades were fired. Romklao was promoted to the rank of army general in honour for his sacrification…

Romklao’s wife thanks police for arresting ‘men in black’The Nation, September 11, 2014
…Nicha posted a message on her Facebook Wall saying she hoped the arrest would expose the mastermind of the attacks.

Police: Arrested Men in Black suspects not responsible for Gen Romklao’s death -ThaiPBS, September 11, 2014
…Deputy commissioner of the Royal Thai Police Pol Gen Somyos Poompanmuang said they were only responsible for battling with troops and firing at the protesters during the red-shirt protests at the Democracy Monument, at the same day when Gen Romklao was killed.
He said the killing of the general was the work of another group of men in black which the police are still investigating…

Earlier: Catching the Red Shirt gunmen
Earlier: Thaksin to file defamation suits against those accusing him of being behind the men in black
Earlier: ‘Men in black’ are policemen, Chalerm claims
Earlier: More on Chalerm and Prasong and the Men in Black
And an editorial cartoon: No One Saw Any Men in Black?

Posted in Red Shirt Protest 2010 | Leave a comment

Is Gen. Prayuth really growing “eccentric” or “superstitious” as Time Magazine claims?

This brief article in Time alleges growing “madness” in Gen. Prayuth and also compares Prayuth’s “eccentricities” with those of North Korean leaders: Thailand’s Military Ruler Grows Increasingly Eccentric but No Less Dangerous (Time, September 11, 2014).

While we can expect ineptitude, corruption, and a ham-fisted approach to dealing with the media from the Thai military, the allegation that the new prime minister is displaying growing insanity for believing in signs and symbols simply indicates a writer unaware of customary Thai behavior.

Belief in signs, symbols, and fortunetellers is deeply engrained in every level of modern Thai culture. Politicians and those in lofty positions openly engage in what a Westerner might consider “superstition” to ensure their good fortune.

Above: From Manager, October 5, 2010
Ajarn Ma: What’s up, junkie?
Caption: The day Ajarn Ma takes back [takes back for revenge]
[This cartoon comments on the war of high level feng shui at Government House. Ajarn Ma is a well-known Chinese "luck instructor" who teaches people to improve their luck and fortune. He gave advice on how to reconfigure the lawn in front of government house for correct feng shui. His plan conflicted with a fortune teller backed by politician Sanan (pictured bottom right). That his version of the landscaping is being implemented indicates his victory over the fading political power of Sanan. "Junkie" here is an insult meaning "junk man" or "cheap man."]

Every new government redesigns the landscaping in front of government house according to their favored “luck gurus,” sometimes sparking political battles over which design is best. Spirit houses are erected in front of high rise buildings in Bangkok where passing employees “wai” to show their reverence and ensure good fortune.

The predictions of fortunetellers are front page news in Thai newspapers. These predictions indicate the important role fortune tellers have in Thai society in general and in politics in particular. The predictions themselves are about as prescient as next Tuesday. However, they usually indicate the current wisdom–what most people are thinking at the present time about a subject or what they are expecting to happen. Deposed Prime Minister Thaksin openly followed Burmese fortune teller “ET.”

The intent of Gen. Prayuth’s coup was to demonstrate to the Thai political class that the military has the iron will to resist Thaksin for years to come. Thus, Gen. Prayuth’s rule is indeed depressing for supporters of Thaksin’s amnesty plan as well as to those who hoped for chaos during a royal succession.

Those with lofty hopes that a military government can govern wisely and honestly will also be disappointed–the very nature of Thai mutually reinforcing cronyism means that rot will swiftly overcome any good intentions.

Time Magazine may feel Gen. Prayuth is dangerous. However, there is very little unusual or eccentric about Thai leaders (and Thai people in general) believing in signs, symbols, and fortunetellers. Gen. Prayuth’s level of “superstition” is no greater or less than that of previous government leaders–or the average Thai.

Above: From Daily News, March 18, 2010
The headline reads: Red blood all over – in front of Government House – the Democrat Party HQ – in front of Mark’s residence [PM Abhisit’s house] – Suthep reveals sabotage is likely – Arisman announces they [the Red Shirts] will absolutely take the blood of [PM] Abhisit and aristocrats to wash their feet unless parliament is dissolved – Meanwhile the Red Shirts splash blood [This shows the Red Shirts famously employing a blood-cursing rite during their 2010 protests.]

From 2006: The belief in spirit houses including the destruction of the Phra Prom Shrine by an insane person and its implications for a key intersection in Bangkok
From 2006: Editorial Cartoons about Thaksin and the Burmese fortuneteller “ET”
From 2007: Warin: fortune-teller of CNS period (fortune teller for the post-2006 coup government)
From 2012: ET – Fortuneteller’s life told on Thai TV
From 2013: Thaksin’s soothsayer: Profile of fortune teller to the Burmese and Thai elite, “ET”


Above: 2004: Workers repositioning cannons to correct defective feng shui in front of the old Defense Department building. This was to help bring luck to government efforts to fight separatists in the Thai Deep South.

2Bangkok.com Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.

Posted in 2014 Coup, Analysis, Local Beliefs | Leave a comment

Gen. Prayuth Army Sticker app

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Above: The Army Sticker app featuring benevolent leader Gen. Prayuth

Website of the developer

Yesterday: Tourist Police Mascot: Lieutenant Change

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Tourist Police Mascot: Lieutenant Change

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Be sure to get your new LINE stickers with the friendly Tourist Policeman Lieutenant Change (above).

After joining you are sent an amusing video about a deaf farang girl getting lost on Khao San Road. A Tourist Police officer, who luckily knows sign language, reunites her with her mother as nearby foreigners applaud (screen caps below).

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1409TouristPolice

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International Star You Should Know: Vithaya Pansringarm

In Variety: International Star You Should Know: Vithaya Pansringarm

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11 years ago: Government pressures TV stations over allegations against Thaksin

11 years ago: Government pressures TV stations over allegations against Thaksin

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September 19 anti-coup protest to coincide with anniversary of 2006 overthrow of Thaksin

Free Thais Movement, supporters plan protest against coup on Sept 19The Nation, September 9, 2014

[The September 19 anti-coup protest to coincide with the anniversary of 2006 overthrow of Thaksin.
If true, this is indeed a strange move, probably conducted by those not taking direct orders from Thaksin. It allows a further pretext for the military to sustain martial law when pressure had been building for it to be lifted. It may be a move by overseas anti-coup activists to try to prove their relevance.]

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