Martial law is no doubt extreme medicine for Thailand’s political unrest. The face value reasons for martial law are just the paint on the problem. Connecting the Dots digs down and shows the real underlying reasons for the move by the military.
In Thailand there are four states all or part of the country can be in. Each state gives a level of authority to the Government and the military to deal with problems.
The First state is what can simply be called ‘Normal state’. This is when life is normal and a there are no reasons for alarm.
The Second state is called ‘The Internal Security Act’. This allows the government to take a proactive position on situations that have the potential for causing one sort of problem or another. For example a mob of people who have a bit of a bad reputation such as the Red Shirts, out doing their thing and causing normal life to be difficult at best.
This state allows the Government to take additional action such as detaining people that are observed making problems, closing roads and do security checks. The police and the Government are the primary enforcers but the military can be asked to assist with added manpower.
The Third state is a ‘State of Emergency’. When this is enacted the military is given control to make decisions but still are guided by the Government. The problem is when a State of Emergency is enacted, Thailand suffers as other countries issue travel warnings and people simply go other places to spend their money.
The Fourth state is ‘Martial Law’. When martial law is enacted the military takes complete control. It does not require the Government to enact it, as the military has full authority to do so on their own. Thailand becomes a police state and many rights are suspended. It is entirely up to the military as to how strict or lax the rules are. For the most part the Government can only tend to it’s normal business and has no say in security. The police are back to their normal duties and have no authority except in routine duties like traffic control, crimes and other things they would do in the ‘Normal State’.
So understanding that, we now will connect the dots as to why the drastic step of martial law has been enacted. The First dot is the Government was not working to prevent violence, they were actually stoking the fire. They were making threats and using a created body called The Center of Administration for Peace and Order (CAPO) to attack people who did not support their agenda. Innocent people died as a result of Government action and inaction.
The Second dot is the Government ignored orders of the court as well as attack the court rulings and made open threats to judges.
The Third dot is members of the Government’s political party the Pheu Thai Party (PTP) were actively engaging the Red Shirts coaxing Thailand towards open conflict.
The Fourth dot is the Government was also making threats to independent bodies like the Election Commission (EC) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for either standing in their way or not complying with their wishes.
So needless to say the Government was far from neutral and not doing its job. The Government was abusing it’s power to stay in power and simply could not be trusted. With the use of military weapons against innocent law abiding protesters, the military was forced to act.
So when Martial law was enacted the Government more or less became inert because of it’s care taker status. They have no decision making power and can only tend to the normal functions of ministries and continue with policies and tasks that were previously decided on before their care taker status. No changes in policy are allowed.
So to put this in a short summary, the military has given the Government a ‘Time Out’, exactly the same as a parent would to a misbehaving child. What will happen next seems to be in the hands of the Senate and the court, and the likely outcome is the remainder of the Government will be removed and a neutral Prime Minister will be installed starting down the path towards reform. This will no doubt upset the Red Shirts, but Martial law will quickly deal with that if they get out of hand as they usually do.