Authoritarians and technocrats aligned

1 07 2020

One of the outcomes of the virus crisis around the world has been the rise of technocrats. They need to be watched as closely as the authoritarians, especially when their expertise is politicized. This is not just in Thailand; it is a global phenomenon.

Two examples will keep this post short. First, as a Bangkok Post points out, the medicos have developed big heads:

The Medical Council yesterday gave people a rather unpleasant surprise with its announcement detailing the obligations of patients seeking medical services….

Most important of all, the Medical Council is a professional body whose main missions are to register and regulate medical practitioners and maintain medical standards in the country.

In issuing the order, the council relied on the Medical Profession Act of 1982 which empowered it to “promote the studies, research, and professional practices in medicine” and “to assist, to advise, to disseminate and to educate the public and other organisations in matters concerning medicine and public health”.

The law does not seem to allow the council to “regulate” the public when it comes to medical services, however. That means the announcement’s status is questionable. Its content is also unclear and impractical.

The second case involves the authoritarian state and technocrats:

… all passengers boarding Bangkok’s MRT and BTS must check in and out via the Thailand Wins system. The new rule comes on the same day social distancing measures will be dropped and all seats made available.

In addition to recording their travel with the tracking app, commuters are asked to refrain from talking while riding the rails, the operators of both systems announced early this evening. The State Railway of Thailand has yet to announce that it will require the same aboard its Airport Rail Link system.

This means the regime can now track all of its Bangkok-based opponents more effectively, while hiding behind “medical advice.” The slippery slope is well lubricated and it is steep and deep.