The caretaker Thai cabinet has announced the end of the 60-day state of emergency that it imposed since January 22 on Bangkok, the province of Nonthaburi (part of the greater Bangkok Metropolitan Area), the district of Lat Lum Kaeo in Pathum Thani province (directly north of Bangkok), as well as the Bang Phli district in Samut Prakan, where the Suvarnabhumi airport is located.
The revocation of the emergency decree will come into effect starting tomorrow. However, the caretaker cabinet has agreed to invoke the Internal Security Act, also starting tomorrow, “to ensure peace and order” in the aforementioned areas.
The act will be in force until April 30, and empowers the officials and military to take emergency measures including the imposition of curfew in serious cases. While the state of emergency actively restricts protests and their media coverage within the country, the Internal Security Act is in a monitoring nature.
The move is well timed as it is going to be Songkran, Thailand’s New Year, next month, and the festival period usually attracts a large number of tourists. Although no foreigners have been hurt by the unrest, and major attractions and facilities in the country have been operating as normal over the last few months, the situation understandably has had a negative impact on tourism.
Thawatchai Arunyik, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said, “While the state of emergency has caused little inconvenience to travellers to Thailand, its lifting is a sign that things are fast returning to normal in Bangkok and visitors can look forward to travelling round the Thai capital with ease, as well as to the provinces for next month’s Songkran festival.”
The effort has paid off. In Hong Kong, the Security Bureau has recognised the lifting of Thailand’s state of emergency by downgrading its Outbound Travel Alert against the country from “Red” (see here) to “Amber”, meaning visitors to the city no longer face significant threat, but are still advised to be cautious of “signs of threat” when on the ground.