Kiwis in Thailand frustrated but not fearful

Thai soldiers secure the intersection to prevent pro-government protesters to gather to protest against the coup in downtown Bangkok. Photo / AP
Thai soldiers secure the intersection to prevent pro-government protesters to gather to protest against the coup in downtown Bangkok. Photo / AP

New Zealanders living in politically-troubled Thailand say the latest military coup has not led to major violence, but the Government says the situation there is of "deep concern".

The military declared martial law on Tuesday and an official coup took place yesterday with General Prayuth Chan-ocha seizing power.

A 10pm to 5am nationwide curfew has since been imposed and broadcasts have been shut down.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had expressed deep concern at the news of the coup and the suspension of the constitution.

"It is difficult to see how military rule will ease Thailand's current political crisis. The detention of political leaders is unacceptable," he said.

"New Zealand calls for an early return to democracy in Thailand, and for full restoration of the rule of law and fundamental human rights - including press freedoms and the freedom of association.

"We urge the military to set a clear timetable for elections, and for all parties to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue."

It was understood the military had requested nobody speak with the media.

Despite this, some New Zealanders in the country have emailed the Herald and said the situation was frustrating, but not dangerous.

Because of the military request for residents not to speak with the media, APNZ will not name the people who have sent emails about the situation.

One writer has a son teaching in an international school in Thailand, who told her all schools had been ordered to close due to the coup.

Another woman, who lives in Bangkok and manages a small business in the Sukhumvit area of the city, near the centre and tourist zone, said the city was quiet.

"In the past two days I've seen very little of any concern, certainly no soldiers, but obviously with a curfew on, the streets are quiet and all shops are closed etc.

"So, while feeling no threat at all, it does feel a little strange. Most foreigners that I know are more just exasperated than fearful," she said.

Another writer said everything "appeared fine" in Phuket.

"No army presence or fighting yellow and red shirts have all gone home or to Bangkok to keep the peace here.

"TVs are blank and radio as well. Other than the threat of being caught outside curfew and being fined 40,000baht ($NZ1438) and two years jail everything is normal. Nowhere near as bad as people are making it sound (yet)."

Another New Zealander said Thai politicians had been arrested.

"All TV and radio stations (were) told to shut down," he said.

New Zealanders travelling to or living in Thailand were encouraged to monitor developments, avoid any protests, and register on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Safetravel website www.safetravel.govt.nz.

- APNZ

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