We trust you’ve kept a firm grip on the reins and not bowled after midnight since we last looked at some of the truly bizarre old laws on the books.
Since then we’ve come across even more surreal laws you may not have heard of. So be a good citizens and do not to hoist the wrong flag, say the wrong thing into a microphone or tie your buffalo to the wrong thing, mmkay?
After all, as we learned last time, these laws remain in effect and enforceable at any time, no matter their age or absurdity.
1Can’t Speak Thai? Put the Microphone Down.
Every time you hear a Thai (or anyone) say “hello test” into a microphone, you are witnessing a criminal offense. Section 7 of a 1950 law on sound-amplifying devices bans speaking “any language other than Thai” into a microphone. Violation is punishable by a month in prison. Concerts, religious ceremonies and state events are exempt.
2No Late-Night Snacking
The 252nd Revolutionary Decree enacted by the military government in 1972 banned selling food between 1am and 5am without the explicit permission of a police chief or provincial governor. Given the scene of all-night street food scene and ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores, rest assured that this law is totally unenforced.
3No Dissing Foreign Heads of State
We’re all familiar with lese majeste, a draconian law that once banned insults to the top members of the Royal Thai Family and today is applied to pretty much everything said about the monarchy.
Little known is that insulting foreign monarchs or heads of state is a crime under Section 133 of the Penal Code. Please remember to say only kind things about Prince Charles and Donald Trump or risk seven years in prison. Thanks!
4Don’t Show Your Colors
Want to show some pride in your homeland by raising its flag in public? Don’t! Under the 1979 Flag Act, passed during the Cold War and Red Scare, flying the flags of other countries in public places is illegal but for a few exceptions such as embassies and diplomatic residences. Violators go to prison for a month.
5And Please Don’t Burn Any of Them
While we’re talking about flags, the same 1979 Flag Act outlaws that common protestor pastime of form of protest. In fact, display any disrespect toward a Thai flag and get up to six years in prison.
Doing the same to foreign flags isn’t okay either; such gestures are banned under Section 135 of the Penal Code. Offenders face up to two years in jail.
6No Royally Rude Newspapers or Hotels
Want to show your contempt or devil-may-care attitude with your business name? Forget launching the Fuck You Daily or Hotel Erdogan Is An Asshole because two separate laws ban naming newspapers and hotels using “curse words.” Names resembling those of Their Majesties the King and Queen are also banned.
7Don’t Insult Royal Guests
Defaming representatives of foreign states who have been invited to Thailand as guests of the Royal Thai Family bears a penalty of up to five years in prison. So, if Aung San Suu Kyi or Hun Sen are here in town on the palace’s invitation, it’s best not to insult either of them.
The well-known Thai proverb mai chue yah lob luu (If you don’t believe it, don’t disrespect it) should probably be amended to say, “If you disrespect it, go to jail for it.” Section 206 of Penal Code prohibits showing disrespect to any “object or venue” deemed sacred by any religion at the pain of seven years in prison.
9Sing It Like the Thais
Apart from piles of documents and a fat monthly salary, one requirement to become a naturalized Thai citizen under immigration regulations is the ability to sing the national and royal anthems. Online anecdotes say applicants must sing them in front of a panel of officials on interview day.
10Guests Must be Reported
Got a friend visiting from overseas or someone over for more than one night? If they aren’t a Thai national, you must alert local immigration officials within 24 hours of their arrival, even if it’s your private residence. Failing to do so is a 20,000 baht fine under Section 38 of the 1979 Immigration Act.
11No Improperly Fastened Cattle
Next time you’re looking for a proper place to hitch your buffalo, horse, cow or other livestock, please be mindful that it is not a telegraph pole. Does Section 34 of the 1934 Telegraph and Telephone Act’s clause forbidding their use for such a purpose apply to today’s telephone poles or cell-phone towers? Find out the hard way – it’s only a 100 baht fine.