When I was back home for the wedding I heard lots of muttering about meeting in DC for the Fourth of July weekend. Try as I might, I wasn’t able to convince anyone to hop on over to Bangkok for the occasion, though I assured everyone the day also existed in Thailand as well.
What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that it was actually a very important weekend for Thais as well– yesterday was a big election in which the Pheu Thai party took power from the Democrats, who had been leading the country since the former prime minister, Thaskin, was ousted in a coup in 2006. Only two months ago his younger sister Yingluck took the position of the leading Pheu Thai candidate, and as a result of yesterday’s election is now the first female prime minister in Thailand.
This post wasn’t intended so much to discuss Thai politics (if I have sparked your interest concerning them, however, check the links I’ll provide at the bottom… I’m sure those authors can do a much better job of explaining anyway) as to display some of the very striking posters I’d noticed around town. Thanks to buying a copy of the Bangkok Post for Trix’s litter box a few weeks ago, I finally received an explanation for the bright yellow posters with business-suit clad animals. They’re part of a campaign led by the pro-monarchy group the “Yellow Shirts”, who had once been aligned with the Democrats, to vote “No” in the election. This is different than not voting at all– it seems on Thai ballots there is an actual option of “No” that voters check to indicate that he or she finds none of the candidates suitable for office.
The explanations for the animals themselves are as follows:
Buffalo: Slow and stupid.
Tiger: Lazy, gets something for nothing.
Dog: Makes noise and fights.
Monitor lizard: Very bad person.
Monkey: Deceives and cheats.
i like this shot because you can posters for actual candidates as well. candidate number 5 is, for whatever reason, always shown behind a steering wheel. in one ad, however, he has a really loopy expression on his face and i thought it was an anti-drunk driving ad before i was brought up to speed on the whole election thing.
the original bangkok post article i read, which unfortunately i can’t find online, was an editorial and made some funny points– first, that there are some animal rights groups that apparently aren’t too happy about innocent animals being compared to crooked politicians. second, that the buffalo ‘looks pretty good in that suit,’ and that if he had a number next to his picture rather than the word ‘no’ the author wouldn’t have been surprised if he got some votes.
Pictures came from the following sites:
Global Voices Online: Thailand: ‘Vote No’ Campaign
Women Learning Thai: Vote NO! Animal Campaign: Political Posters Translated (I liked this page a lot, it has some Thai political cartoons not only in translation but with a culturally relevant explanation as well.)
FACT– Freedom Against Censorship Thailand: FACTorial: If voting could change anything it would be illegal. No choice in Thailand.
New Mandala: “Vote No” Logic Flawed
Also if you’re just looking for general election information:
BBC: Thaksin’s sister vows to do her best as Thailand’s PM
NYT: Thais Back Ousted Prime Minister’s Party in Landslide
Bloomberg: Thailand Baht Rises as Pro-Thaksin Party Wins (Could be good for me! Not solely a financial article either, in spite of its title. Includes sections on “Military Crackdown” and the “2006 Coup”.)
Bangkok Post: The making of a prime minister (Not a very flattering image of Yingluck, but Yax has warned me most of the media in Thailand is controlled by the Democrats.)