Thailand

Thai Government Lifts Martial Law, In Favor of Unlimited Power for Military Junta Leader

Lessons from Thailand on wishing for stronger leaders.

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Thailand PM Office

Last year Thailand, nominally a constitutional monarchy, saw its second coup in ten years after the Constitutional Court ordered the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of the prime minister deposed in the 2006 coup, ordered her to step down for abusing her power. By that time the military had declared martial law and packed the legislature with its members. A military general was selected to replace Yingluck.

Now he wants to lift martial law, and give himself broad-reaching powers instead. He's just waiting for the King's approval. CNN reports:

A statement from Thailand's government said Article 44 of the interim constitution would be invoked "with an aim to deploy military officers in tasks related to maintenance of national order."

Article 44 states, in wide-ranging terms, that when the head of the military junta believes it is necessary in the name of public harmony or to prevent the undermining of national security, then the leader has the power to act as deemed necessary.

Worryingly, acting "as deemed necessary," even if it requires operating outside the constitutional system, is not unheard of in the U.S. President Obama, far from a military junta leader, has nevertheless complained on numerous occasions that he can't act as necessary because the Congress, previously controlled in part, and now in whole, by a party not the president's, won't do what he wants them to. Like his predecessors, of both parties, he's made a habit of doing end-runs around Congress. Sometimes, as with war powers, Congress willingly abdicates its powers.

Thailand is light years away from the U.S. politically; nevertheless it ought to serve as a cautionary tale. The path that starts with political leaders agitating for less division of power to advance agendas they don't want to compromise or even discuss easily ends with those political leaders or their successors demanding absolute power to advance their agenda and blaming the opposition, no matter how ineffectual or powerless, on any failures.

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  1. Thailand is light years away from the U.S. politically…

    So what you’re saying is we need a king to approve or disapprove the coup’s actions?

  2. I thought Obama wanted to be Emperor, not a mere King.

    Leave King to the court jester Biden.

  3. The path that starts with political leaders agitating for less division of power to advance agendas they don’t want to compromise or even discuss easily ends with those political leaders or their successors demanding absolute power to advance their agenda and blaming the opposition, no matter how ineffectual or powerless, on any failures.

    And the average citizen will believe every word.

  4. So, junta and general despotic mayhem aside, is Thailand still a pretty good place for expats? I’m years away from moving anywhere too exotic, but I’ve heard good things about Southeast Asia and it makes a guy wonder.

    1. Just like everywhere else in the world, avoid the police.

    2. Mostly.

      Take this with a grain of salt – I’ve never *lived* there and haven’t been there since 2008ish.

      But, stay away from politics and its COL is low, you can still get every modern convenience (thanks internet). The people are friendly enough – they may not want you to marry their daughters but they won’t piss on you in the shops.

      1. ‘Course, that could all change quickly in the next few months with the new military junta in charge.

        1. “Private, why are you not urinating on that ex-pat!”

          “Sir, right away, sir!”

          *undoes fly and micturates on American tourist*

    3. Thailand is a fun place, but there is a saying, “I wouldn’t buy a green banana in Thailand” and that is very much true. The Thai people have an affinity for revolution that sets them apart among Southeast Asians.

      I prefer Vietnam to Thailand. HCMC if you like big city life and I’d recommend Da Nang if you want to be on the beach. If you like your Southeast Asian a little more Western friendly, the Philippines are a good option. Makati in Metro Manila is great and if you like smaller beach life maybe Cebu? Kuala Lumpur is also extremely livable though booze is expensive.

  5. I’d take martial law over martial non-law. In fact my understanding is that in the USA, martial law is in many respects better than civilian law. What they’re getting instead now in Thailand is apparently, by this story, military monarchy.

    1. In fact my understanding is that in the USA, martial law is in many respects better than civilian law.

      Uh, what?

      1. The UCMJ. Is that martial enough for you?

    2. That’s the dumbest dumbfuckery I’ve read since the last time I read a Tony post.

  6. I would wager a large sum that if you bring the King of Thailand here and give him the D nomination for 2016, and make his entire platform about him making himself king after elected, that he will get just as many votes as Hillary or Warren would get, or more. Anyone want to take that bet?

  7. My ex-wife makes $75 every hour on the laptop . She has been laid off for seven months but last month her pay check was $18875 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    Look At This. ???? http://www.jobsfish.com

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