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Buffalos, lizards, monkeys… and politicians?

Thai politicians rebuke campaign equating them to dirty beasts
Bangkok animals 2011 06 11Enlarge
A pedestrian walks past a 'no vote' campaign billboard posted by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in Bangkok on June 9, 2011. The Thai Election Commission has ordered the removal of these billboards which failed to meet the standards of the campaign regulations. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

As Thailand nears a heated July 3 election, political hopefuls have strewn Bangkok with massive placards.

Most display candidates' airbrushed faces paired with some grand promise to raise wages or build train lines that they may or may not keep.

But among the images are snarling Jack Russells, pink-faced macaques and even monitor lizards, a creature synonymous in Thailand with scumbaggery. The tagline: "Don't Release the Animals into Parliament."

The broader message is that none of the candidates are worthy of political office and that voters should register their disgust with a "no" vote, which actually a checkable box on Thai ballots.

The campaign is funded by a party linked to the "Yellow Shirts," a hyper-nationalist protest group formally known as the People's Alliance for Democracy. Despite their title, they have at times pushed for strikingly un-democratic reforms: letting voters elect only 30 percent of parliament and, more recently, shutting down elected government for several years to purge unsavory politicians.

Predictably, electoral candidates resent their portrayal as drooling dogs and buffaloes.

PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

One hopeful actually filed defamation charges for portraying candidates as "bad people," reports the Bangkok Post. Other complaints have compelled a police spokesman to order the signs' removal, though they remain standing after squabbles with election officials.

Perhaps the offended politicians are a bit too sensitive. The campaign is a rare sign of humor from a group that often oozes moral righteousness -- remember their seizure of Bangkok's chief airport in 2008? -- and hyperventilating nationalism.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/buffalos-lizards-monkeys…-and-politicians

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