A cartoonist mocking the ruling junta is the most influential Facebook page of the year according to a poll organised by Prachatai while an exiled historian who regularly posts news about the royal family is voted the third.
During the past two weeks, Prachatai has conducted an online poll on Facebook, asking respondents what is the most popular Facebook page of the year 2017. The candidates vary from gag page, a political cartoonist, exiled academic, a football commentator to an online detective.
Khai Maew (Cat balls)
With 50,352 votes, Khai Maew
is the winner of this year survey. Khai Maew, literally translated as Cat balls, draws parody cartoons of Thai politics. His gags quickly respond to hot and controversial issues at the moment. His style resembles that of Joan Cornellà in which the characters do not talk and usually featured in four boxes for the readers to read from left to right and top to bottom.
The regular characters in Khai Meaw include a square-face businessman resembling the exiled PM Thaksin Shinawatra, a soldier with toothbrush moustache representing the junta leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and an uncle with a creepy smile mirroring Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-election protest in 2014.
Recently, one of its gags has become a worldwide famous meme on the internet.
Original work by Khai Maew
When it becomes a meme
The first runner-up with 29,847 votes is a gag page named Basement Karaoke
. Its gags are simple, yet genius -- matching song lyrics with perfect background images. The gags content are diverse but relate to social and political controversies at the moment they are published.
The photo of Artiwara Kongmalai, a rock star charity runner, receiving a donation from Public Health Ministry during his campaign to fundraise for 18 public hospitals nationwide. The caption reads “this might be wrong” which is a lyric from Artiwara’s song.
Among all candidates, an exiled academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul
seems to be the weirdest one. With 21,230 votes, he is the only serious page on the top of the list. Throughout 2017, Somsak has shown his deep interest in the Thai royal family, especially the King Rama X.
It is not difficult to see why Somsak’s page is favourite. Somsak offers information about the royal family in a way that media in Thailand, including Prachatai, are shy away from due to the fear of the draconian lèse majesté law. However, Somsak’s page is not favourable among the authorities so it has been subjected to censorship.
Early this year, the junta attempted to blocked access to Somsak’s Facebook page in Thailand and also intimidated those who followed him on Facebook during mourning for late King Rama IX in 2016. In May, Somsak announced that Facebook had taken down his post that criticised the royal family at the request by Thai junta, citing the draconian Computer Crimes Act. Also in May, seven individuals were arrested for lèse majesté after sharing Somsak’s Facebook post about the missing 1932 Revolution plaque.
A former historian at Thammasat University, Somsak has fled Thailand after the 2014 coup and sought refuge in France ever since.
Other interesting cadidates
Ranking 6th with 15,959 votes is a football page named Khob Sanam (Ringside) famous for its humorous commentating style. Ranking 9th with 13,759 votes is an investigative page named Queen of Spades which expose crimes and social problems that its followers send in.