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Thai Army declares martial law (3)

(Part 1; part 2.)

This being Thailand, the Army, the police, the reds, and the yellows all seem to have broken for lunch; it's an efficient non-coup that's entrenched by lunch-time! And so twitter seems to have died down to a dull roar. And this being Bangkok, there are selfies:

I see the red, white, and blue regalia of the PDRC on the woman at left, but not the whole group; and I don't see whistles; I could be wrong, of course, but I'm thinking that's a sign that if there is a triumph of the PDCR, it's very much less than complete.

Here's an excellent called shot from the Bangkok Post Op-Ed page last week:

All roads are leading to martial law

The board is set. If all the players keep moving the way they have been, it’s likely the end game will be martial law

Th

e People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) may not mind that. As long as they can get rid of this government and delay a new election, even a military coup would be acceptable.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) would condemn the option.

But deep down, however, the pro-election red shirts could probably afford to let it happen, since such a development would benefit them in the long run.

A semi-military takeover would rouse the red-shirt base, draw crowds to its rallies and consolidate its pro-democracy stance more than anything that has happened during the past few months.

Would martial law be a good option then? A circuit breaker so to speak? A necessary evil that will at least temporarily force all warring factions to take a step back and avert clashes that could take a heavy toll?

I don’t think so.

So, good call, but it turns out martial law isn't an "end game" at all, because, at least alone, it can't solve the problems. So...

And here's a piece from Times reporter in Thailand, who is actually good. Lifting the part about the questionable legality of the coup:

Thailand’s Constitution allows for martial law. But in his declaration on Tuesday, General Prayuth cited a 1914 law passed while Thailand was still an absolute monarchy. The law requires that a royal proclamation be issued before martial law is announced. General Prayuth did not say whether he had sought the assent of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is ailing.

In his speech the general cited “ill-willed people who created violence by using weapons of war” [M79 grenades, for example] for his decision. More than 25 people have been killed in political violence since the protests began six months ago.

The law also permits Martial Law in case of an insurrection, but matters in Bangkok, stressful though they surely were for some, fell far short of insurrection (though I suppose you could classify the PRDC's seizure of government buildngs as insurrection. So, so far as I can tell, the legal status of the declaration of martial law is in limbo. That said, AP gives the provisions so far:

So far, they have announced these bans or measures on national television:

- Protesters gathered in Bangkok cannot march outside of their protest sites.

- Ten politically affiliated satellite and cable TV stations, including those funded by pro- and anti-government protest movements, are asked to stop broadcasting until further notice.

- TV and radio stations should interrupt any regular programming for army broadcasts.

- Any broadcast or publication that could "incite unrest" is banned.

- Police should hand over reinforcements to the military if requested.

Typically, under martial law soldiers also have authority to enter and search private property and make seizures in the name of keeping peace.

So, I think lunch is ending. Let us return to the twitter and lots and lots of speculation!

* * *

Above: Color coding? Or just a ribbon?

Above: PRDC still meeting in Government House, even though Army now controls it (instead of PRDC militia). That malevolent and swollen sac of pus, Suthep, is sitting at the head of the table under the flag.

Above: 18 ducks that quacked like ducks.

Above: Watch the reds!

Above: Lunch over with, but cocktails with the diplomats at 6!

Above: Foreboding from the Reuters guy on the spot. True.

Above: The slowness and light touch would be part of the game plan. The ammart (Thai elite) are learning to do much more artful coups!

Above: Post-lunch downer. PRDC/yellows still ensconced in Government House, with Army protection, with Suthep, the wart and blister on the ass of Thailand's body politic, demanding an appointed Prime Minister. Meanwhile, the UDD/reds are surrounded in Aksa, demanding that the Constitution be adhered to, and a PM be elected. (At this point we pause to remember that the Constitution was written by the Army and the Yellows and passed in 2007, after the 2006 coup, and the Reds then proceeded to whip their sorry asses in the next two elections. So these clowns can't even win at a game they wrote the rules for and rigged.) So both sides have not changed their position, except that the Reds have said not just that they are against an appointed PM, but that they're against Prayuth taking the job. (Which would indeed be rather Cheney-like; coming up with yourself as the only nominee after a nationwide search.)

Above: But the reporters were kickd out, so we have no idea what they said.

Above: She's right!

Above: Well, that's interesting. No Royal Decree, no insurrection, fake Prayuth signatures?! The declaration is looking fishier all the time!

Above: The nightmare scenario.

Above: One soldier, though (image above). And not an officer. And we know the Army could spit.

Above: Yep. I'm getting the feeling this situation could be getting more dynamic. And not in a good way. That post-lunch Westeros feel.

Above: Yep. No word or sign. Where is the safe house? Chiang Mai? (And in that case, who flew the plane / drove the motorcade?)

Above: Well, so far as we can tell, it's not de jure, so de facto it must be! (If you even consider a declaration with forged signatures de facto, if that turns out to be true.)

Above: The generals arrive at the Army Club for the 2:00 meeting.

Above: Independently? WTF did we have the non-coup for if this is still on the table, and if Surachai is doing it? (Acting even though Surachai, IIRC, chaired an "informal" meeting at which he was putatively elected, and spoke in the debate (!!). I feel like I should import Roberts Rules to Thailand. I think they'd actually like it.)

Above: "Not a coup" doesn't seem to "taking" in international media, though they are often wrong about Thailand, as am I.

Above: Oh, so they were going to Chaing Mai, but now they're not? Surely they didn't go up in a small plane?

Above: Bad-ass!

Above: Only three? Internal conflict in the government? (Weakest player of all, sadly)

Above: Various mordant jokes have started in the expat/intermarried set; this is perhaps the best so far.

Above: ZOMG!!!! So the Senate is looking for a solution, independently, the Red Shirts aren't in the room, but in Aksa, and the Yellow Shirts aren't in the room (I'm guessing -- I don't see a giant disembodied anus, so Suthep is not there), but in Government House, the reporters are kicked out, and nobody knows where the Prime Minister is. We'll see how it goes....

This brings me up to an hour ago, and I have three hundred tweets to go, and its 4:48 in the AM. Skipping ahead conveniently to the top of the feed at the present moment, we find:

Above: I'm a genius! I skipped ahead to where the generals came out of them meeting and Prayuth held a presser!

Above: Prayuth, again, is the top general. So here we go indeed! (Not sure I totally trust this twitterer; we'll have to wait for more; the video is online in Thai, but it will take a bit to translate to English.

Above: Udorn is way up north in Red country.

Above: Wowsers. Partly Prayuth being Prayuth.

Above: How does that work, exactly?

Above: Yep. That's the "power vacuum" the anti-government protesters sought. On the bright side, a distinction between UDD and the Pheu Thai government is now very clear. "Tin soldiers and Nixon bombing, we're finally on our own..."

Above: Look for the for the man who taught his asshole to talk!

I hate to break off with the day not done in Thailand, but it's 5:00AM and I do need to be functioning tomorrow. Let's hope for the best....

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...ass is that this is being called a coup; it's not a fucking coup...yet!
I'm not saying it won't turn into a coup, but by definition this is martial law, not a coup.
PM? Still there. Government? Still in power.
By all accounts, things in BKK were boiling out of control. 28 dead and hundreds injured; war weapons (M 79 grenades, AK-47s and M-16 (full auto) used against protesters on both sides.
Now, there will be a semblance of law and order. The press both Thai and foreign just suck!
Mouths and printers working overtime with no brain in sight. Not, maybe 100%, but damn close.
My god, the bullshit would fertilize the Thai rice crop for a year.
Rant over...

Submitted by lambert on

And he's very sober and respected. Could turn into one, but isn't yet.

Though I have to say the legality of it all looks a little iffy. A 100-year old law? Really?

I would bet a lot of it is polemic designed to get the US to cut off military aid. I think it would be a horrible idea to get the US involved because the US fucks up whatever it touches.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...that this level of noise does nothing to clarify anything.
It just adds to the chaos and does nothing to actually inform.
Raw news data is important only to those skilled in its interpretation and subsequent distillation for dissemination in a cogent manner for the general readership.
I suggest the rest is bullshit, not suitable, even for fertilizer...
This is of course my opinion and not (necessarily) supported by this blog.

Submitted by lambert on

If you think this is noisy, try reading the raw feed. And if you think I'm picking posters who don't have a track record, think again, too. And plenty of them are native Thai speakers, or married to Thais, which is one reason I selected them.

If you don't like what you consider noise, then dispel it with signal. Nobody's forcing you to read the post!

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...I might as well be speaking to the air/stars/fairy's/spirits.
The western hysteria is noted and ignored.
I'm tired and going to bed firmly in the grasp of sanity...

Submitted by lambert on

Who next, Michael Yon? Granted, not all Western sources are credible, but Cartalucci is not credible.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

You may well be right on him. I didn't look at the author, only the information.
I've never heard of Cartalucci.

Submitted by lambert on

... over Cartalucci any day! At least I know where he's coming from even if I don't like it. I'd rather look through a glass darkly than wavily, if you see what I'm saying.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Admittedly, I could use a bit more interpretation since I don't have enough background to catch the innuendos and who-said-what right off the bat. :D Still, interesting to see the amount of nobody-know-what's-going-on at the center of things.

I guess whether or not it's a coup really depends on whether or not the military's real agenda is enabling democracy or something else.

Not a good situation for any country. As you say, let's hope for the best.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...only one posture works; we'll see...
The back story is everything and no western media is privy to that.
We'll see is the only course...
Patience and attention....

Submitted by lambert on

Just as it is in other countries, including the US.

So, we are watching the back story, the signal, emerge from the noise, bit by hit, and hoping that the back story that we're told is in fact the real one.

Seems normal to me, and a useful exercise for "doing politics" in general,

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...when the meetings were scheduled and then cancelled and rescheduled, it seemed to put the media/blogosphere into a spin.
This meeting rescheduling is so Thai. After 5 years of teaching in government schools one gets used to this. My wife has been a civil servant for 35 years and she is completely at ease with whats going on at the moment.
I also find it interesting the soldiers rifles are without magazines (at least the ones I've seen) which means the rifles are not loaded.
The posture of the military on the street is non-threatening; and a good selfie opportunity for many Thais.
Again; it can/could all go shit, so, we'll see...

Yesterday we drove half way to BKK for my 90 day report and everything was normal including the Immy office.

Submitted by lambert on

There's a huge honkin' photo of that machine gun in IIRC The Economist and that's the one the guns and ammo dude is pointing out has no magazine!

And one of my friends is going to and fro to their work in the 'burbs like everything is normal.

Then again... That's how you'd really expect it to be were this to be a coup (it seems to be either not, or a new "clever" sort) as opposed to a revolution. A coup would affect only an upper stratum in a finite location, and not the entire population. Then again... Thinking of 2010, that was really neither. But the four year and one day anniversary is really spooky.

I should also say that I understand the stability argument and I respect it; I do have friends there, if not family, and I hate to imagine they are in danger, or any of the many, many other people that have been so kind to me. And I can imagine conversations with them that I might decide I would rather not have, because I'm not sure what the price for stability will be, ulitmately. I'll leave it at that.

* * *

I should have thought that even a coup would proceed on Thai time! That said, I attributed the re-arrangements to behind-the-scenes unknowns, not Thai time.