The army knows exactly why there’s a rise in COVID-19 cases in Thailand. It’s the illegal migrant workers. They are bad people, General Prawit Wongsuwan said as much. And last night (22 Dec), General Prayut Chan-o-cha said pretty much the same.
The prime minister said the infection increased because of bad people and that all Thais should help each other protect ourselves. He congratulated Thailand (himself) on strict measures that have successfully prevented the spread of the disease. He said that the Thai economy is hit less hard by the pandemic than other countries. He then criticized countries with less strict measures and said this is why their economies have been hit harder.
Don’t let them burn down Ayutthaya again.
Before last night’s announcement, the army already identified the culprit of the sudden rise in the infection. It thus caused panic and reactionary response: treat the virus as if it’s another Myanmar invasion.
The border is 5,526 kilometers long, defended by six army divisions and one navy division. Army Spokesperson Lieutenant General Kongcheep Tantarawanit said the military commands had ordered an additional five army companies to patrol the border. More bicycles, vehicles, and patrol boats will be deployed, plus more security cameras, barb-wire fences, and patrol drones.
Not a single Myanmar would slip through, they hope.
They are wrong.
Ask Donald Trump about building a wall to prevent migrant workers from jumping the borders. It doesn’t work, and it’s inhumane.
This is how the migrant workers come in.
The Thai economy relies on migrant workers, from the various factories to building sites and to your maid in the kitchen. Factory owners collaborate with agents across the border to bring in the migrant workers. Some of them are new faces; some of them are familiar faces. All of them couldn’t get across the border to work and fuel Thailand’s economy, as well as sending money back home to families.
Why? Because Thailand makes no effort to bring them in through safe and proper channels. We don’t even do it for our citizens, who are migrant workers stuck abroad. So what chance have the Myanmar workers got?
Migrant workers can’t afford to pay for a 14-day quarantine. So what do they do? They break the rules. But also, Thai factory owners break the rules.
But of course, according to General Prawit, no Thai officials accept bribes to get the workers across the borders. Of course not. No way, not possible. Bribery in Thailand? Perish the thought.
Why not make the rules sensible?
The half-and-half program General Prayut is so proud of? Make the factory owners pay half, and the government pays half for the 14-day quarantine of migrant workers. Let’s go half-and-half with the fit-to-fly (or fit-to-walk-across-the-borders) certification also.
It’s an investment by both the factory owners and the government.
Bring them in through the proper channel with sufficient safety measures and treat them humanely. The key is to effectively open up the borders, not to blindly close them down.
COVID-19 is here. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Learn to live with it.
Stop the fear and panic.
To date, there have been 77,051,312 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Of which, there are 1,693,095 deaths, and 43,857,997 people have recovered.
It’s a dangerous pandemic. Every death is tragic. But it’s a 2.2% death rate worldwide, and in Thailand, the death rate is 1%.
How do people recover?
Stay at home or the hospital for a couple of weeks. Take medicine regularly. Drink lots of water. Get lots of rest. And then, you’re ready to party again.
Stop the fear and panic that leads to reactionary measures. We need cool heads and practical measures that are both humane and mindful that people’s lives and the economy have to go on.