Most laws in Thailand are similar to western countries, including speeding limits, alcohol selling times, and laws to protect the safety of everyone. Although on paper the laws look familiar, Thailand is still trying to stabilise itself in a country rife with corruption and political unrest, so there are a few exceptions.
- Laws are sometimes ignored in favour of a political bias.
- Corruption can be found at all levels of society and for severe crimes.
- Thailand is under a military junta which means there are some special laws to stop an opposition movement.
In May, 2014, the Thai army launched a coup d’état, and in August 2014, Prayuth Chan-O-Cha became a non-elected prime minister of Thailand. Since the military takeover of government, the constitution has been scrapped and is being re-written with elections pending.
Since the army based their takeover on bringing peace to a politically divided country, they have put into place bans to stop any politically motivated protests. Bans include political gatherings of more than five people, which have resulted in arrests for reading a certain book, eating sandwiches in groups, and showing The Hunger Games “three fingers” salute.
Thailand has had political problems for a very long time, so it’s always wise to stay knowledgeable, but it’s very rare for a foreigner to get caught up in it.
One of the first things you will notice is how prominent the royal family is in Thai society. Many Thais adore the royal family, and especially The King, who some even go as far as to think he is a demi-god. If you ask many Thais, they will immediately give you a long list of reasons why they love their King so much.
However, people do have different opinions on royal institutions around the world, and it’s best not to argue about the royal family in casual conversation, or even posting your opinions online.
This is because Thailand has one of the strictest Lese Majeste laws (the insulting of a monarch or other ruler) in the world. There have been cases of people being sent to jail for 30 years because they posted several messages on social media that defamed the royal family.