This past week alone saw a slew of contradictions from the nation’s leading figures. Among them, on one hand, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the heads of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CSSA) issued a plain warning that a mass outbreak of the virus could easily result in another lockdown, pointing the finger of responsibility at the public.
On the other hand, again just as one example, was the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) repeating its call for tourists to come to Thailand, despite the cost and delays incurred in just being allowed to visit anywhere inside the nation’s borders.
What has been missing is any rationale given to prospective tourists of what to make of the shifting state of the health controls that will be in play when they get here. At best, the approach in dealing with COVID-19 in the country today could be described as “hammer and scalpel”. Which one will affect any plans any visitor might have is anyone’s guess.
Thai officials have proved that they can trace and test very well, but as the Samut Sakhon outbreak has proved, by the time officials react the virus could reach as many as 33 provinces.
At the other end of the spectrum is the reaction, not response, to Myanmar nationals crossing into Thailand. The whole approach reeks of fear.
Worse, specifically and repeatedly asking the public not to panic as if everything is normal when officials themselves kick into overdrive over “possible carriers” exactly as if they themselves were in a panic just defeats the purpose.
After the first major lockdown in April, rolling isolated lockdowns when and where needed was always the plan. So was some form of quarantine for any new arrivals in the country, and the so-called ‘new normal’ protocols for social interaction and conducting business. All this makes simple sense.
If this is the ‘new normal’, so be it and so-called leaders should be acting like it, as well as officials on the ground. We cannot sit and wait for nature to run its course. Nature is what nature does, and will be around long after the current version of a human is long gone. What we do with our time is up to us.
A clear open statement of intent is what is needed right now so people can understand whether they are facing a widescale lockdown, or if that is to be the last resort for an economy already suffering. Then people need to see those words supported in real life. People stopped believing what politicians say a long ago. People believe what politicians do.