The Face Thailand: Prayut good, people bad

“Face Culture” is of utmost importance for us Thais.

We all want to “dai-nah” (ได้หน้า, receive good face or image), not “sia-nah” (เสียหน้า, to lose face or image), and definitely not “nah-taag” (หน้าแตก, embarrassed, shattered face or image).

Otherwise, people would “som-naam-nah” us (สมน้ำหน้า, laugh at our face).

Therefore, we must “sraang-paap” (สร้างภาพ, invent image).

While the reality of COVID-19 management (second and third outbreaks), in general, and vaccine management, in particular, have caused the Prayut Chan-o-cha Regime to “nah-taag,” the 29 April Royal Gazette has “sraang-paap” differently for the regime:

“Due to effective restriction measures, the majority of the people became too relaxed and have not been careful at the beginning of the outbreak, which led to the spread of the disease throughout the kingdom.”

In one wordy sentence, the Prayut Regime made it an official history: “Prayut good, people bad.” Hence, “sraang-paap.”

On the same day, the cabinet awarded General Prayut full power over 31 laws to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic. The reality is, the infection rate will go down, and this time, the general has made sure to “sraang-paap” that he will receive sole credit, “dai-nah.” After all, he’s in charge of everything.

Last week, 40 CEOs of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) announced they want to help the government and the country. The most significant of the offers, they want the private sector the power to import vaccines. They met with General Prayut.

This caused a lot of government people to “sia-nah” because it demonstrates government failure.

The 1 April episode of the Thai PBS’s news talk show “คุยให้คิด” (Talk to Think) revealed that government bigwigs put a brake on the private sector.

According to show host Suthichai Yoon, the general was advised:

Don’t let the private sector import vaccines. The government must oversee FDA approval. The Health Ministry has already secured 100 million doses. The government will be criticized if wealthy people have access to vaccines, better vaccines, through the private sector, while the poor wouldn’t be able to afford them. If the private sector is successful, they will receive the credits rather than the government.

According to the show, General Prayut agreed.

The fear of “sia-nah” and “nah-taag” was just too much.

So, at least for the moment, Thailand is back to the same plan. The government will handle everything, including the vaccines, with the general in charge of everything, sole power.

Show host Veera Thirapat concluded, “There are likely benefits when it comes to vaccines.” Because, you know, other than “Face Culture,” there’s also another culture that’s of utmost importance.

Meanwhile, on social media, government supporters explain: the pandemic is because of bad karma and irresponsible citizens.

So really, who do we have to “som-naam-nah” but ourselves?

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