Thailand’s military leaders have declared martial law. The funny thing is, they didn’t bother to tell the government about it. Anti-government Yellow Shirts have been celebrating in the streets whilst pro-government Red Shirts have stayed mum. Selfies with soldiers in the background are burning up Twitter.
Despite the travel warnings, things haven’t gotten out of hand…yet. With 21 coup attempts under its belt since 1932, this is a country that likes its politics spicy.
The military continues to insist that no coup has taken place, and that the civil government retains power. Meanwhile, the ‘Peace-Keeping Command Centre’ enforces martial law, which includes shutting down dissident news media.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a coup, right? Not so fast. In a clever move, the military has seized just enough control to manipulate their protractors without affecting foreign investment.
Who needs a name-brand coup when one can have martial law for a fraction of the price?
The military doesn’t really need to declare a coup. Hiding behind a century-old law, the military can censor the media, search and block the post, and arrest anyone they like for up to a week without charges. People injured in skirmishes can’t sue for damages, and the law guarantees that the military can’t be prosecuted.
What does this mean for tourists?
Not much, really. The banks, bars and baths are still open. If anything, martial law has corralled protesters away from tourist areas. Whether the shirt is red, yellow or camouflage green, maintaining tourist capital is something everyone in Thailand can agree on. Still, don’t forget to look over your travel medical insurance policy, and contact your insurance company should the situation deteriorate.
So far, things don’t seem that dangerous. In a move unusual for garden-variety enactments of martial law, tourists and locals alike have been flooding #SoldierCuteBoy with pics of handsome men in uniform.
Update 22/05/2014 :
Taking the advice of the inestimable political anyalyst Beyonce, the Thai military has put a ring on it. In addition to officially declaring a coup, the army has imposed a 10pm to 5 am curfew, effective immediately.
A deputy army spokesman helpfully offered ‘assistance’ to protesters needing help getting home before the curfew begins.
With regular folk scrambling to get off the road in time, epic traffic jams have slowed traffic to a crawl.