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Martial law declared in Thailand

Military rule: it remains unclear whether the declaration of martial law in Thailand will have any impact on the Kingdom's massive manufacturing sector.

Impact of vehicle sourcing unknown as Thailand's military declares martial law

20 May 2014

MARTIAL law has been declared in the Kingdom of Thailand, the second-largest source of new vehicles for the Australian market after Japan.

The Thai military invoked martial law earlier today following months of sometimes violent protests against the ruling Pheu Thai party which has left 28 people dead and hundreds injured.

This escalated earlier this month when Thailand's prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra was dismissed by a Thai court after she was found to have abused her power by illegally reassigning her security chief in 2011.

Nine other cabinet ministers were also dismissed at the time for abuse of power which has effectively left the South-East Asian country without a functioning government.

Thailand is now the second largest source of vehicles for the Australian market behind Japan, with 228,479 out of the 1,136,227 total vehicles sold here last year coming from the South East Asian nation.

Several major car-makers run manufacturing operations in Thailand with some of Australia's top-selling light-commercial vehicles, including the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara, Mazda BT-50 and Holden Colorado all built there.

Popular Thai-built passenger vehicles and SUVs sold in Australia include the Ford Focus and Fiesta, Honda Jazz, Accord, Civic sedan and CR-V petrol SUV, Mitsubishi's Mirage micro hatch, Nissan's Pulsar and Altima range and Toyota's Corolla sedan.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited, which sources the aforementioned Mirage and Triton as well as the mechanically related Challenger SUV from Thailand, said in a statement that there is little information at the moment as the situation is still unfolding.

“We're aware that a state of martial law has been declared in Thailand, however, there's no impact to production or sales of Mitsubishi vehicles in Thailand at this time.” It is believed that previous political unrest in Thailand did not have any affect on Mitsubishi's Thai operations.

GoAuto is awaiting comment from a number of other car-makers as to whether they believe this will have an impact on their sourcing.

An announcement on Thailand's military television said that the declaration was “not a coup”, but was instead invoked “to restore peace and order for people from all sides”.

“The public do not need to panic but can still live their lives as normal,” the announcement said.

It is believed that the government was not advised of the military's decision and that troops were moving through Bangkok following the announcement by army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha earlier this morning.

This latest crisis is the most recent development in a power struggler dating back 10 years between Yingluck's brother – ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra – and the royalist establishment.

The Thai military has staged or attempted 18 coups since 1932.

Stock of Thai-built vehicles was badly affected by floods that devastated a number of provinces in 2011, with many automotive manufacturing operations closed for months as car-makers rebuilt shattered plants and eventually recommenced production.

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