With the looming prospect of elections law and order has become a possible high profile issue for the military government in Thailand. The Washington post reports that “it is the first time in 40 years something like this has happened” with bars checked for such legal technicalities as having a licence to be allowed to play music. The army shut down the bar because of this despite an informal arrangement being made with local police and the owner. The military is saying that this current crackdown is Thai-centric rather than foreigners, with a spokesman saying “disorderly young Thais, staying out late, had provoked the new measures” according to WaPo. Many analysts say the current crackdown is more for appearance and “face” rather than being effective. Bar owners are saying that some tourists will go to Cambodia or Vietnam, however, it is unlikely Pattaya will be much affected. The city has legitimate “entertainment precincts” that have always been officially or unofficially excempt from restrictions in place in other parts of Thailand, such as restrictions on the sale of takeaway alcohol. You can buy a beer at 7/11 any time of day or night whereas in most Thai cities including Bangkok, there is a midnight restriction in place. The Thai military will be careful not to drive away tourists as the economic effects could have a bad impact on their popularity.
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