“By the third quarter, hospitals and the arms of our fellow Thais will be full of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Thailand,” said Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on 18 February.
“Why don’t you admire the Thai healthcare system?” he asked.
“Thailand is the only country in the region that can say we’ll have 63 million vaccine doses,” he claimed.
“We plan and work systemically. We don’t do Google searches to find bad news, defame, or demotivated those who work,” he lectured.
By early July, the “systematic plan” extended the timeline to 61 (not 63) million doses for complete delivery in December this year.
Then, yesterday 15 July, Deputy Health Minister Sathit Wongnongtoei said the complete delivery “could be” in May 2022. However, when asked by a reporter about the delivery date originally specified in the contract, Sathit said he doesn’t remember.
The government recently yielded to public pressures and released vaccine contracts, mostly redacted, with prices, quantities, and dates smeared in black ink.
From his quarantine, General Prayut Chan-o-cha motivated the kingdom in his best impression of Winston Churchill:
“I ask everyone never to surrender. The government and I will give maximum help. Never surrender in this war. Fight until we achieve victory.”
Never surrendering is Army Chief General Narongphan Jitkaewta. He has filed defamation charges against eight Facebook and one Twitter accounts for allegedly accusing the military of shipping soldiers to the US for the Pfizer vaccine.
Furthermore, General Prayut told all government agencies to go after “fake news” and “news that spread fear even if it’s true,” which violate the Emergency Decree.
On cue, the NBTC has threatened to pull Voice TV off the air.
Meanwhile, to commemorate this coming 18 July in which one year ago, the push for democracy began at the Democracy Monument, the Office of the Prosecutor yesterday filed sedition charges against leading activists for the protest event.
In summary, we may be retreating in the war against COVID-19, but we are in a full-on attack mode in the war against freedom of speech and assembly.