Why must the Kingdom of Thailand panic over two infected cases of the soldier and the diplomat’s daughter?
It’s just two cases. We have already successfully treated thousands of cases. On our own, people and businesses already exercise due precautions.
Panicking isn’t the issue, as General Prayut Chan-o-cha suggested. Instead, pissed off is the issue.
It’s clear as day who should take the blame
The Center for COVID-19 Administration Situation is in charge of keeping Thailand safe. In charge of the Center is General Prayut. Continually reminding us to “keep the guard up” is Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin.
The Emergency Decree gives the Center complete power, therefore it is responsible for any action taken by a government body.
If there’s to be blame and punishment, then it’s on the general, the doctor, and the Center.
What’s the point of banning all flights from Egypt and closing down hundreds of schools in Rayong? That’s paranoia and overreaction. Why remove the Rayong governor? What did he do wrong?
For the past four months, the Center has been threatening the people of Thailand with punishment. Demanding us to keep the guard up. Refusing to lift the emergency decree. Warning to return to full lockdown. Intimidating business operators to shut them down again. Throwing workers in jail for having a party.
But then, it is the Center who screwed up
The doctor said the soldier incident is just “a lesson to learn from.” The general gave a grudging apology and later said it is the media who spread the “panic.” Both are deflecting responsibility.
If people are panicking over the two infected cases, it is because they are conditioned to live under the rule of fear and paranoia, with restrictions that might make sense two months ago, but no longer make sense now.
Certain measures have been useful, but we are all too familiar with nonsensical rules. When the Center overreacts, the people overreact in trying to complying to rules.
Sending kids home from school if they touch each other. Boxers wearing face shields during face off and “wai kru,” but take them off when fighting. Bars and pubs may open, but no dancing. Singers can sing, but only low-key songs.
Add senselessness to the rule of fear and paranoia, it doesn’t take but a pin drop for people to panic.
But mostly, people are angry
After months of threats and intimidation, the Center is the one who lets its guard down. People are mad at the double-standard and the incompetence.
The diplomat’s daughter was tested positive at the airport, yet the entire family was allowed to stay at a condo in the middle of Sukhumvit. If people panic, it’s because of the realization that incompetent hands safeguard us.
Though let’s be fair, not everyone is angry. Possibly half the country applauds and make excuses for just about everything the government does. That’s why society is divided between those who “check the power” and those who “promote the power.”
For government cheerleaders, all is fine in the Kingdom of Smiles. “Mai pen rai,” just do as told. For those of us, who act as the checking function to balance the power between the government and the people, it’s beyond ridiculous.
The two incidents are but the icing on the cake
Before, there’s a photo of government politicians congratulating each other on the change in party regime, without observing social distance. Then there’s a photo of ministers and other politicians, both government and the opposition, including a spokesperson of the Center itself, with no masks and no social distance, bumping shoulders at the US ambassador’s residence.
People are not angry that they are not observing the Center’s protocols. People are mad at the double standard. The wealthy and powerful can do as they please, while rules and punishments apply only to those without power.
Just this past Wednesday, 15 Thai and migrant workers were arrested at their accommodation and charged on two counts: gambling and violating the Emergency Decree.
Gambling is illegal (though it shouldn’t be; however, that’s a different commentary), so charge them, no problem. But if you’re going to charge them with violating Emergency Decree, then how about charging politicians?
The two activists who protested against the general in Rayong were arrested and, according to reports, will be charged with violation of both the Emergency Decree and the Communicable Disease Act, for “illegal participation in activities that may cause the virus to spread.”
What about the crowd that gathered to greet the general? Might that not cause the virus to spread?
But here’s the thing, don’t charge anyone
The issue isn’t just the double-standard, but also the climate of fear and paranoia created by the Center.
We have been at zero infected cases for nearly two months, except for those in quarantine and the two incidents in which the authorities let their guard down.
Keep reasonable regulations for inbounding flights and cross-border movements. After all, the only infections are found at quarantine centers for returnees and the two incidents, as mentioned earlier. Let all businesses operate as usual. Let schools be a place for education and mental/emotional growth, not four-meter distance and bad haircuts. Keep encouraging people to wear masks and keep clean.
If those people in power do not want to wear handcuffs, take the handcuffs off the rest of us. If there’s a second wave, do active testing and quarantine and treat the infected.
Forget the “new normal,” let’s just return to normal