There is significant potential to create a new sub-discipline of cultural studies (is cultural studies a discipline?) focussing specifically on the vilification of Thaksin. Here is a great example, snapped at Bangkok’s Jatujak market by a New Mandala reader looking for bathroom renovation ideas.
I am not sure if this will catch on in London (the home base for both the photographer and the subject) but given the market knowledge of Jatujak’s merchants I have no doubt there are more than a few Bangkok residents brushing their teeth while they admire the yellow ribbon on their barrel.
On the subject of bathroom humour, I was intrigued to read a recent opinion piece from the Manager site. Written by columnist Surawit Wirawan it is a scathing attack on various elements in the ongoing anti-regime campaign. In particular it draws attention to the role of the high profile public intellectuals Niti Eoseewong and Kasian Tejapira. Without going into all the detail, the article questions the association between these academic figures and various pro-Thaksin elements. It also asks who provides the funding for various anti-regime/anti-draft constitution publicity campaigns as well as other activist-academic publications put out by, for example, Fah Diaw Kan.
Frankly I think the funding issue is a red herring. Political campaigns and publications cost money (just have a look at the tsunami of fundraising in the US at the moment). What’s new? It would hardly come as a surprise if anti-junta campaigns were financially supported by figures associated with the previous, illegally overthrown, government. Who cares? The anti-coup movement brings together a broad coalition of figures (and, no doubt, derives financial support from diverse sources). But to imply that all those associated with the movement are in some way compromised by particular sources of financial support is to erect a simplified caricature that blithely ignores the complexity of civil society.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the article is the way in which Thaksin’s key supporters within the anti-coup movement are described (the ones Niti and Kasian should not be associating with). Surawit refers to them as р╕бр╣Зр╕нр╕Ър╕гр╕▒р╕Бр╣Др╕Вр╣Ир╣Бр╕бр╣Йр╕з which I will politely and literally translate as “the mob that loves Thaksin’s eggs.” (For previous New Mandala comment on Thaksin’s nickname – Maew – go to my post of June 2006). But, of course, “balls” is probably a better translation than eggs, and a couple of the references later in the article seem to confirm a more testicular interpretation. The phrase has a certain ring to it, and I would be interested to hear from any New Mandala readers who can cast light on its history or derivation. Perhaps as one linguistic advisor has suggested “mob rak khai” is a rhyming play on “Thai rak Thai.” Another possibility was put to me by an impeccably placed informant:
One of the leading figures in PTV was the southern Thai Rak Thai politician Weera Musikhapong (who, by the way, did jail time in the 1980s for lese majeste). Weera’s nickname in the south is “khai muk dam”, ie. “Black Pearl”. The anti-Thaksin media, especially The Manager, thus made fun of his name by changing it to “Khai Maew Dam”, later shortened to “Khai Maew”, implying that the PTV people were protesting not against the CNS or for democracy but simply to reinstate Thaksin.
Any other contributions to the emerging sub-discipline of Thaksinvilifology?