Updated: Masking

12 03 2020

We haven’t posted much about the virus. We did say something about the regime’s policy flip-flopping a week or so ago and, of course, we mention the convicted heroin smuggler and mask hoarding for profit.

On the latter, it was reliably reported that deputy minister Thammanat Prompao was linked to discussions of mask trading. Like his actual and real heroin trafficking conviction, the minister claimed this was all a fiction.

The number of masks involved was about 200 million. That’s a lot. The US national stockpile of such procedure masks was said to be 30 million a few days ago. Before the virus, Thailand’s domestic demand for face masks was about 30 million units per month.

More significantly, as Thailand faced terrible air quality for several months before the coronavirus scare, masks were in demand and in very short supply.

But now we learn that in the midst of shortages, in January and February the “Department of Internal Trade (DIT) authorised the export of 330 tonnes of face masks … declared controlled products…”.

It turns out that only “[m]asks for use in the domestic market cannot be legally exported.” Who would have guessed?

So now Thailand’s spectacularly hopeless regime, via Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit, is calling “on China to help with the supply of surgical masks, raw materials required for production of the masks, and other products needed to control the spread of Covid-19.”

Jurin mistakes a mask for a chest expander (clipped from The Nation)

The Department of Internal Trade is a part of Jurin’s Ministry of Commerce. It was back in early February that Jurin was speaking about possible increased demand and the need for controls.

Smuggling, hoarding, shortages and incompetence.

Update: When challenged, sue or threaten to sue. Thammanat has taught us that. So when the Department of Internal Trade got pissed about the 330 tons mentioned above, it “filed a complaint with the Technology Crime Suppression Division against Customs Department spokesman Chaiyut Khamkhun for defamation…”. Customs had issued a “clarification” that the “330 tonnes of exports were not exclusively face masks.” And it acknowledged that the ban was not in place until early February. Now the claim is that 12 million masks were given clearance to be exported, apparently because they weren’t good enough. Yes, DIT says it allowed the export of low quality masks. Hmmm. Barely believable.

Meanwhile, “state-run hospitals, which have been hit by a severe shortage of face masks, received 1.4 million masks from the Commerce Ministry between March 6-11.” This despite the claim by government that 1.2-1.4 million masks are being produced each day. Hmmm. Is anything this regime does and says believable?

The Bangkok Post has an editorial questioning the regime’s preparedness.


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