This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Tiger, lion, bull, rino… politicians are WILD BEASTS!
After writing about Thai politician Chuvit in two posts: Thai Politician Chuwit Kamolvisit: A Man. His Dog. Their Park and Chuvit’s Angry Man Campaign Posters Translated, it’s now time to feature another star of the Thai political show, the Vote NO! animal posters upsetting many Thais.
The animals in the yellow Vote NO! campaign are the buffalo, tiger, dog, monitor lizard, crocodile, and monkey. The use of animals brings to mind a Thai saying เสือสิงห์กระทิงแรด /sĕua sĭng grà-ting râet/ which directly translates to tiger, lion, buffalo, rino.
Seems harmless enough… but that run of animals translates to WILD BEASTS! in Thai.
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pûak-née bpen sĕua sĭng grà-ting râet wái-jai mâi-dâi
These people are WILD BEASTS! Don’t trust them!
I was told that arguing politicians are known to shout at each other:
khun bpen bprà-pâyt sĕua sĭng grà-ting râet.
You are a (kind of) WILD BEAST!
Note: I realise that คุณ /khun/ is far too polite for this slur but…
When going into scary territory – like visiting in-laws – your Thai friends just might say:
rá-wang! kun jà bpai jer pûak sĕua sĭng grà-ting râet
Careful! You will go to meet the WILD BEASTS!
Animals in Thai culture, Thai thinking…
In the Vote NO! political campaign the animals are dressed in men’s business suits. Some suits are black but others are printed in notable bright blues and reds. The tiger, monitor lizard, and crocodile (in bright blue) apparently represents the Democrat Party (พรรคประชาธิปัตย์, Phak Prachathipat). The crocodile (in red) represents the Red Shirts (พรรคเพื่อไทย, Pheu Thai Party).
nationmultimedia.com: Campaign billboards to depict buffalo-headed candidates in blue and red suits. The first billboard will highlight the message of running from a tiger into a crocodile. The depiction will show the tiger-headed in blue, the colour of the Democrat Party and the crocodile-headed in red, signifying the red shirts.
Each of the animals used in the campaign have a place in Thai thinking.
Buffalo: Slow and stupid.
Tiger: Lazy, gets something for nothing.
Dog: Makes noise and fights.
Monitor lizard: Very bad person.
Monkey: Deceives and cheats.
สีซอให้ควายฟัง /sĕe-sor hâi kwaai fang/
Play the fiddle to the buffalo to listen.
The foolish buffalo can’t be taught.
เสือนอนกิน /sĕua non gin/
Tiger laying down and eating.
Tigers profit without effort.
หมาเห่าใบตองแห้ง /măa hào bai dtong hâeng/
Dog barking at a dried banana leaf.
Dogs are all talk, no action.
จระเข้ขวางคลอง /jor-rá-kây kwăang klong/
Crocodile obstructs canal.
Crocodiles are troublemakers.
ลิงหลอกเจ้า /ling lòk jâo/
Monkey deceives owner.
Monkeys deceive and cheat people.
In Thailand, calling someone a monitor lizard is a nasty slur )I purposely neglected to mention the Thai saying).
The animal poster with the tiger on the top and the crocodile (not monitor lizard) on the bottom uses another common Thai saying:
nĕe … sĕua
bpà … jor-rá-kây
Short words, I know. But what it means is this: In the jungle you come across a fierce tiger. You escape by diving into the water, only to meet the hungry crocodile.
English version: Out of the frying pan and into the fire!
Before we leave this poster I’d like you to note the printed number 18 at the top left. The first animal posters had no such deliberate number (just the logo). More on this subject below…
So, whos’ responsible for the Vote NO! Campaign?…
Check out the number 18 added by hand. After finding many handwritten number 18’s I asked a Thai friend what was up.
Early on in the campaign, most of the political articles I read mentioned PAD as being solely responsible for the animal posters. I didn’t start paying attention until the handwritten 18’s started to appear. The information was there all along, I just missed it.
Number 18 is the For Heaven and Earth Party, an offshoot of the Santi Asoke Buddhist Sect. The For Heaven and Earth Party teamed up with PAD to produce the animal campaign. So no, it’s not PAD acting alone.
The original Vote NO! animal campaign posters…
When the animal campaign posters first appeared on the streets of Bangkok they sported the buffalo, tiger, dog, monitor lizard, and monkey. All carried the same message:
3 ก. ค. (abbreviation for กรกฎาคม)
săam gor kor (gà-rá-gà-daa-kom)
yàa bplòi sàt kâo sà-paa
Don’t let animals enter parliament.
bpai chái sìt lêuak dtâng gaa chông mâi bprà-sŏng long ká-naen
Use your right to put an X in the box for “no vote”.
Complete sentence: On the 3rd of July don’t let animals enter parliament. Vote NO! Use your right to put an X in the box for “no vote”.
The Vote NO! animal campaign cartoons…
These two cartoons are from a Vote NO! pamphlet being distributed on the streets of Bangkok. The person taking credit is นายตุลย์ ศิริกุลพิพัฒน์. The cartoons are also using animals so I decided to include them here.
Well… I am what I am. To admire me as a buffalo. (I’m) really shy.
Title along the bottom:
At the Lizard Parliament.
ตัวเงินตัวทอง: monitor lizard (polite).
เหี้ย: monitor lizard (extremely rude).
In the cartoon, one politician (a lizard) is calling the other politician (also a lizard) a buffalo. The lizard replies, “Well, I am what I am (a monitor lizard). Why do you say buffalo? I’m really shy.”
English version: I believe this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black (both politicians are acting like animals in parliament). I’m not sure what the admission of being shy is all about though.
This cartoon also comes from the Vote NO! pamphlet.
Main speech balloon:
The world is sorrowful and worried…
about Japan collapsing under the Tsunami…
…while these dogs are still biting each other really loud!
Note: A Thai will say หนวกหู จริง !!! when there’s an annoying, loud disturbance. It means, “keep quiet!”
The couple’s speech balloon:
(sound of comfort) don’t you know, they are just dogs!
The dog’s speech balloon:
โฮ่งๆ… โฮ่งๆ… แฮ่… !!!
hong hong… hong hong… haa (pant)
Note: Thai dogs say hong hong, not bow wow.
In English: It’s dog eat dog. Meaning, Thai politicians are out for their own interests alone. That’s exactly what Chuvit’s campaign is saying.
And now, for the rest of the Vote NO! animal campaign posters…
เลือกลำบากเพราะฉลาด … ทั้งคู่ ?
lêuak lam-bàak prór chà-làat … táng-kôo ?
It’s not easy to choose because both are clever?
3 ก. ค. นี้
săam gor kor née
This 3 July
kâo koo-hăa gaa chông mâi lêuak krai
Enter the booth and then make a cross in the space “no vote” for anyone.
Clever? Remember, they are calling both the Democratic Party and the Red Shirts buffaloes.
The For Heaven and Earth Party (Santi Asoke Buddhist Sect) have this to say on the subject (paraphrasing):
The animals are only aiming at the bad politicians. Good politicians have nothing to fear. They [the posters] are not attacking anyone in particular. Those offended by the placards are perhaps taking it too personal.
You can listen to the news report for yourself (it’s in English). But please patient, the animal discussion is a quarter of the way into the video: Yellow Shirts ‘Vote No’ Campaign in Bangkok.
Pssst: No, it’s not your imagination. On some posters the Thai words really do have spaces. Weird spaces in some places.
3 ก. ค.
săam gor kor
วันตบโหลกนักการเมือง (โหลก /lók/ is slang for กะโหลก /gà-hŏh-lók/ head)
wan dtòp lók nák-gaan-meuang
…is the day to slap the heads of the politicians by voting NO.
gaa chông mâi bprà-sŏng long ká-naen
Put an X in the box for “NO vote”.
The news report (above) mentions that the political posters are not attacking any one person but here we have caricatures of Thaksin and Abhist being bonked on the head. Am I missing something?
rûam-gan bprà-túang nák-gaan-meuang
Join together to protest politicians…
doi mâi dtông mee gang-chum-num
…no need to have a rally.
3 ก. ค.
săam gor kor
gaa chông mâi bprà-sŏng long ká-naen
Put an X in the box for “no vote”.
I took the photo of the “no need to have a rally” poster on the way to the Vote NO political rally this past Friday. If you are interested the rally photos are in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.
Vandalism and Thailand’s political campaign…
There’s a great deal of vandalism going on with Thailand’s political posters. Some of the posters have writing on them (like this one) or they’ve been shredded (like the monkey poster below).
The writing says:
mâi rák châat
No love nation = they don’t love Thailand = unpatriotic.
The main damage to the political posters has been limited to the animal posters and Abhisit’s campaign (scratching Abhisit’s eyes out is a favourite Thai past-time). Only a few pots of paint were aimed at Thaksin’s sister.
I could easily fill a post with the demolished animal posters found inside and out of Bangkok. They are that common.
And what else is the Vote NO! animal campaign getting up to?…
The animal posters are angering many Thais but even with the threats of crackdowns from the authorities, the posters are still around. And surprisingly, with all this fuss, they are getting BIGGER.
Outdoing even themselves, these HUGE Vote NO! banners are gracing Sathorn Unique, a relic from the Asian crisis. After being three hours in Friday afternoon traffic to take a photo of the banner clad building, I declined climbing up a nearby building to get a better shot.
NOTE: Apologies for taking the slideshow down. The plugin does not work with my rotating header (apparently both use jQuery. Whatever that means). And if you have any suggestions, I’m open.
This slideshow included a few photos from the Vote NO! rally in Bangkok. I’m sure my Red Shirt driver didn’t intend to stop by a Yellow Shirt rally but when we turned a corner SURPRISE! yellow was everywhere. And of course I to go to see. When I came back from the rally I mentioned how average everyone looked. Not a high-so in the bunch. He replied, “they might be dressed as poor Thais but don’t let them fool you. They are not!”
Oh. And could someone please explain the logic behind the banner in the slideshow?
My take on it: Any party you vote for, Thaksin will win. So let’s unite to vote no.
Anyway, that’s a political wrap. If you missed my other two posts on translating Thai political posters, you can read them here: Thai Politician Chuwit Kamolvisit: A Man. His Dog. Their Park and Chuvit’s Angry Man Campaign Posters Translated. And if you want to see the Thai vocabulary for Thailand’s political campaigns get thee over to Hamish’s Tweet Yourself Thai.
Same as with Chuvit’s translations, my attempts won’t be 100% successful so if you have any suggestions please add them to the comments. Ta!