Thai Military Junta Chief Declares Strict Martial Law
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha stated today that martial law which has been eased for the past several months will now be strictly enforced in view of the overall political climate in the country.
In addition, he stated that individuals who have made public dissenting comments will be asked to report themselves.
Source: Thai PBS
Democracy is a fragile thing that can be shattered by just a few and in the case of Thailand it was once again destroyed by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha after overthrowing the legitimate government of Yingluck Shinawatra.
It could be argued, and indeed is, that the Shinawatra government was corrupt but despite all its failings there remains the inextricable fact that her government was duly elected by the people and was therefore legitimate.
Since the military coup d’etat in May 2014 the General has imposed martial law that prevents any type of protest and indeed has since detained citizens who do protest for what he refers to as an ‘attitude adjustment’.
The media in Thailand is also heavily restricted and censored so that the junta cannot be criticized and has even threatened people using social media to protest with legal action under Thailand’s nefarious Computer Crimes Act; legislation that has long been seen as a tool to suppress political opposition.
According to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha the military takeover was designed to bring ‘Peace and Happiness’ to the nation … whether you like it or not.
Recently Daniel Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, met with Yingluck Shinawatra to discuss the coup; it was seen by the military government as a snub and called US charge d’affaires Patrick Murphy to a meeting to explain the criticism that Daniel Russel laid upon Thailand … the military government have accused the US of interfering in internal affairs.
Why did Daniel Russel not meet with Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha? The answer is an obvious one … the US cannot be seen to be meeting with a government which took power via a coup and which therefore has no legitimacy under international law.
Since the coup d’etat Thailand has seen a significant drop in tourism and foreign investment; the tourists have a number of concerns not least about their safety whilst visiting the Kingdom and foreigner investors are extremely shy about a dictatorship whose Foreign Business Act is stacked against them with the Thai government looking to make changes that would make any investment an even greater risk.
The US, EU and Britain has called upon Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to hold a general election as soon as possible in order to restore democracy to the country. According to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha Thailand is not yet ready for an election and will not see such until corruption has been rooted out.
There is of course another side to the equation; one that few will openly talk about as it would almost certainly been construed by the military as a crime under the lese majeste laws, laws that are again often used to quell any potential uprising against the monarch or royal family.
The lese majeste laws are insidious to say the least and carries hefty penalties of long prison sentences for anyone found guilty of offending the monarchy.
There is a growing concern that the military simply took over to protect the monarch and the ruling elite; some purport that if the monarch were to die the fabric of Thai society would disintegrate and could result in all out civil war.
The monarch is in his very senior years and in poor health; some consider that the military has merely positioned itself to prevent any uprising in the event the King were to pass away.
There can be little doubt that Thailand continues to struggle with democracy and corruption but in the last few decades Thailand has witnessed 19 military coups with 16 of these being successful and none of the action has ever derived any benefit to the people … other than the continuation of cronyism and corruption.
Currently the media is under strict orders not to produce anything it considers inflammatory or critical of the military government; some months ago the Daily Mail was blocked in Thailand over an article it ran that criticized the Crown Prince … to this day the Daily Mail remains blocked by the Thai government.
The longer the military government remains in power the worse it will get for the Thai economy; to date western countries have not placed any sanctions upon Thailand but with the military refusing to hold a general election and its on-going abuse of basic human rights it is only a matter of time until sanctions are imposed.
You are free to leave you points of view below.