Vote NO! Animal Campaign: Political Posters Translated

Vote NO! Animal Campaign: Political Posters Translated

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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.

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:

ระวัง! คุณจะไปเจอพวกเสือสิงห์กระทิงแรด
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). 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.
Crocodile: Troublemaker.
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).

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

The animal poster with the tiger on the top and the crocodile (not monitor lizard) on the bottom uses another common Thai saying:

หนี… เสือ
nĕe … sĕua
Escape tiger.

ปะ… จระเข้
bpà … jor-rá-kây
Meet crocodile.

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?…

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated 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…

Vote NO! Animal Campaign: Political Posters Translated

[slideshow id=animal-posters w=590px h=393px]

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)
3 July

yàa bplòi sàt kâo sà-paa
Don’t let animals enter parliament.

โหวต NO
wòht NO
Vote NO!

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…

Vote NO! Animal Campaign: Political Posters Translated

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.

First graphic:

You buffalo!

Second graphic:

แหม… อยู่ดีๆมายกย่องผมเป็นควายเขินแย่
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.

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

This cartoon also comes from the Vote NO! pamphlet.

Main speech balloon:

The world is sorrowful and worried…

about Japan collapsing under the Tsunami…

ไอ้หมาพวกนี้ยังกัดกันอยู่ได้หนวกหูจริง !!!
…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…

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

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.

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

Pssst: No, it’s not your imagination. On some posters the Thai words really do have spaces. Weird spaces in some places.

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

3 ก. ค.
săam gor kor
3 July…

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.

โหวต NO
wòht NO
Vote 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?

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

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.

โหวต NO
wòht NO
Vote NO

3 ก. ค.
săam gor kor
3 July

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…

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

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.

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

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?…

Yellow PAD Political Posters Translated

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?

มาร่วมสร้างอำนาจต่อรองให้ประชาชนโหวต NO!

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!

22 thoughts on “Vote NO! Animal Campaign: Political Posters Translated”

  1. The cartoon about monitor lizards in parliament is supposed to mean that calling a politician a “buffalo” is actually a compliment to them.

  2. Hi PePa. I like your idea of ‘making a lot of noise about something totally unimportant’ much better than what I came up with (‘dogs are all talk, no action’). I’m afraid I was inspired by the blue of the suit 😉

  3. Hi Catherine, thank you for this interesting article, I learned a lot.

    I think you got some mistakes in the “Dog barking at a dried banana leaf”. Firstly, it’s ใบตอง (no doh-dek but toh-tao), and I think the sense is more like “barking up the wrong tree”, making a lot of noise about something totally unimportant.

  4. “By the by, a suit and tie really does spice up a creature, doesn’t it?”

    Absolutely 😀 And did you notice that only men are shown? Odd, when women are represented in this race. One, quite prominently.

  5. Excellent, Cat.

    Don’t have time to give detailed comment at the mo. Just one suggestion for a translation.

    แหม… อยู่ดีๆ มา ยกย่อง ผม เป็น ควาย เขิน แย่
    Well… I am what I am. To admire me as a buffalo. (I’m) really shy.

    I think it’s more like:
    Well, I’m so embarrassed, you flatter me calling me a buffalo.

  6. I’m with Colin, I find the posters amusing. As well as the different interpretations of the animal characteristics. It’s all very educational, isn’t it?

    You learn a lot about a person by looking at their fridge, books and music selections. . .and a country by their politics and education 😛

    (By the by, a suit and tie really does spice up a creature, doesn’t it?)

  7. Congratulations to this well done post.
    I like to line out here that most of today’s most threatening human rights ,financial and environmental miseries are based on false leadership issues , and to question the competency of the politicians is a long past due issue world wide as well.

  8. Emil, I agree. I expected the Vote NO! campaign posters to have a far more fiery message than they do. Hands down, Chuvit (or his staff) put the most thought into a campaign message.

    I talked to the programmer of the slideshow and apparently using an jQuery slideshow won’t work because my theme is already calling jQuery out (it’s not a plugin, it’s build into the theme). But I can use a flashbased slideshow and that’s what I’ll do when I can find time (nothing seems to work out of the box so I’ll need an afternoon at least).

    The pity is that I really loved how the slideshow looked – check it out if you need one for your own sites:

    Btw -the programmer who created my theme is Justin Tadlock. It’s just as clean on the inside as out (or was before I started tweaking). He’s an impressive programmer.

    I would LOVE to be able to turn off transliteration but wouldn’t it be a lot of work? It’s everywhere. I used to hide transliteration (rollovers) but when I did, those needing to copy off the phrases were totally stuffed.

    Btw – it was great to have you come out of your email-only wilderness (please come back soon 🙂

  9. Oh. Sorry for the double post. Just on that topic, one cool improvement I think might be possible is to allow users to turn on/off transliteration. I’m not sure what your content management system looks like from your end but I’m guessing it could be possible with a javascript function and a distinct CSS class for transliterations.

    OK back to the email-only wilderness with me 🙂

  10. Alright. I’m back in a less tired, hopefully more coherent frame of mind. 🙂

    I agree that the โหวต NO posters are quite visually striking, appealing even but I do tend to think that whilst visually interesting, none of the posters are that creative in their message — indicative of a lack of creative thinking in Thai politics in general. Not that this is any different in Australia. I am quite fond of Chuwit’s ‘Which way you gonna go?’ poster as I think it’s a clever use of the correlation between message and a self-awareness of the medium (and specifically it’s location) itself. *sigh. what a round-about way of saying it’s placed in view of voters whilst they’re driving and that I think it’s clever.*

    I started to write a waffling explanation of jQuery here but wound up confusing myself! Fingers crossed your programmer can get both to work simultaneously but either way, I think s/he’s done a great job with the site anyway. It’s very nicely set out and functional too. 🙂

  11. Dear Hermann, you are very welcome. I don’t have the Thai elections 100% down but after writing about Chuvit and the Vote NO! posters I know a little more than I did.

    Truthfully, I’m not political. I’m mainly interested in poster design, marketing, a few wild and wooly characters, and (of course) the Thai language.

    Above I mentioned “in the UK the tigers have been gone for years”. I finally had the time to source how many. It’s been 1-2 million years since the saber-tooth tiger roamed the UK. That’s a lot of years.

  12. Dear Catherine,

    I bow my head in front of so much detailed inside sharing with the rest of the ignorants in regard to the Thai language.

    Your inquest is such comprehensive that it deserves the rating: “summa cum laude”.

    Thanks a lot for clarifying on this “strange thing” like Thai elections.

    Best regards


  13. Thanks Martyn. I see that T2E back online so I’ll get the rest of the transliteration up asap. That should help.

    Hunting through the sayings was fun. I have five books dealing with sayings and proverbs but not all fit the theme. Dogs sure get the shaft though!

    This campaign has caught the imagination of the locals and especially myself. And except for noticing Chuvit’s angry man posters, I wasn’t that interested during the race for Mayor. But you can’t miss this political campaign – banners are stacked everywhere! I don’t remember seeing as many posters last time (does anyone know?)

  14. Catherine another excellent post on the road to July 3rd, but one which fortunately takes a right turn down Soi Language Learning.

    The pictures are great and the Thai proverbs you include I love. They translate and sound so much better than their English versions.

    The UK could do with a bit of lightening up come election time. Thailand’s election campaigns have so much more colour and creativity compared to the dreary drab affairs back here.

    The football season may have finished but could I just shout ‘Come on you Reds’.


  15. That type of Thai script is awfully difficult to read. It is for me anyway (I struggle).

    The header text is:
    อย่า ปล่อย สัตว์ เข้า สภา
    Don’t let animals enter parliament.

    Now off to read your post!…

  16. Hi Cat, funny enough I wrote a similar small post yesterday about such billboards here in Roi Et. The’re slighty different, but seem to have the same text as the header on your first photo.
    I wanted to know the exact translation but my Thai still sucks, what does the header exactly mean?
    I tried to find the same slogan in your translations, but failed to find it.

  17. Hi Emil, thanks! Yes, the slide shows are new. But I’m having a problem with the code messing with my rotating banners. I have an email in to the programmer (the hope is that I won’t be forced to take the slideshow plugin off).

    The Lizard Parliament cartoon was confusing (the shy part threw me) and I’m betting your version is closer. I asked a Thai friend but even after chatting at length today, I couldn’t get an understandable why.

    Sleep well 🙂

  18. Hey Cat, great post again, very detailed! And I like the animation effect on some of the pics. Is that new? I usually get my wlt fix through email. 🙂

    I had a different take on the meaning of the cartoon. I understood the second lizard to be taking the buffalo slight as a compliment, to suggest that the monitor lizard is even lower on the food chain and hence stymie his accussor, therein lying the pun.

    Anyway great work again — it’s a long post, I’m sleepy, and even less coherent than usual, I fear — I will have to finish it tomorrow. 🙂

  19. Thanks 🙂 It was a bear to put together as I had many questions that needed to be answered. There were many Thai sayings for some animals (dogs) and few for others (tigers).

    I believe Thais have stronger feelings about tigers than the British do because tigers were here, in the wild, eating Thais fairly recently. Whereas in the UK the tigers have been gone for years.

    And the rest of the animals listed are still around in Thailand. They are still making mischief. Well. Except for the poor buffalo, who doesn’t deserve the slurs!

  20. Again an awesome epic post! The use of animals at first made me actually laugh out loud, you can instantly see the offence it intends to cause. Strange how Thai’s see animals differently to myself in the UK, for the British a Tiger is a proud and courageous animal worthy of respect, Not a lazy animal!

    Its a great visual campaign for something i know too little about but your posts are a great insight into Thai life, thanks


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