Military screws Thailand again I

14 07 2020

Puea Thai Party’s chief strategist, Sudarat Keyuraphan is right to accuse “the Government of lowering its guard when it allowed an Egyptian military mission to enter and stay in Thailand without being monitored or quarantined” when at least one of them had the virus.

She’s also right to recall that it was the Royal Thai Army that arranged a boxing match – against regulations – that resulted in the country’s largest virus cluster. And, she’s right to observe that there’s been almost no accountability on that case. In this sense, she may be off target when she only blames the government. She should be lashing the military.

Certainly many members of the public are pointing at the military. It is reported that the “hashtag #อีแดงกราบตีนคนไทย (Daeng should prostrate before the feet of the Thai people), referring to the army chief Apirat Kongsompong, reached over 1.5 million tweets and shares between Monday night and Tuesday morning.”

Now, some 400 people have to be traced, tested and quarantined. Up to 1000 may be impacted.

The regime and the military has gone into damage control, suppression and blame shifting.

The response from the military: “The army has denied that it played any role in the soldier’s transit.”

Might someone explain why the Egyptian military was in Thailand? We at PPT hadn’t noticed a relationship previously. But there were 31 in the “delegation.” That sounds official and not like a simple stopover. Someone must have granted permission for the visit and stopover.

Cover-up is the main response. The regime has refused to provide details: “The soldiers — whose identities and ranks were withheld by the government — stayed in Thailand before leaving for a one-day visit to Chengdu, China on July 9. They returned to Thailand on July 10…”. It is claimed that “[s]ince it was an official trip, it is understood that the government exempted the group from a number of entry requirements, including the mandatory 14-day quarantine. It was also reported that the soldiers were allowed in because they were listed as ‘air crew’.”

Cover-up exposed:

The military is distancing itself from the case, with U-Tapao airport officials telling reporters “only one out of 31 delegates sneaked out”. Such an explanation is ridiculous and leaves some questions unanswered. For instance, how could the soldier (or soldiers) leave the assigned accommodation with a liaison officer around?

Blame shifting has seen the governor of Rayong Province reassigned after the “foul-up which exposed people within Rayong to possible coronavirus infection.” In this case, blaming the governor is buffalo poo. It is the military. Move Forward MP Taopiphop Lim is right: “This is a move that is on the military and government level and not on the provincial level, the governor is just a scapegoat…”.

Why not blame Egypt? “All flights from Egypt will be barred from landing in Thailand, following an incident last week when members of an Egyptian military mission defied Thai regulations by not confining themselves to their hotel in Rayong.” That reporting is weak-kneed rubbish. It is the Thai military and regime that defied regulations. Why? Because they can and do, all the time. It is the usual impunity.

Or blame the Egyptian Embassy:

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, put the blame on the Egyptian embassy in Thailand for arranging hotel accommodation for the Egyptian delegation instead of sending the visitors to a state quarantine facility.

“Regulations require the quarantine during their stay but the embassy contacted the hotel directly. Health and security teams learned later about the incident and did their best to cope,” he said.

Huh? If this is right, then Taweesilp, doing his own credibility huge damage, is saying the government knew nothing. So how did they land at the military-controlled airport? No answer.

The Air Force has blamed the Ministry of Health:

The health ministry was responsible for allowing an Egyptian military delegation later found to include an officer infected with Covid-19 to go shopping in Rayong during their stopover in Thailand, air force chief ACM Manat Wongwat said on Tuesday.

A stopover by a military airplane on a long-haul flight for refueling and to rest the crew and passengers was normal international practice, ACM Manat said.

The role of the air force was to approve or disapprove a stopover request by a plane carrying a military delegation. The health ministry was responsible for coronavirus checks and quarantine….

ACM Manat said when the Foreign Ministry received a stopover request from an embassy it was forwarded to the air force for approval.

Buck-passing may not work if the Air Force’s role at its airport is to not control anything, which is buffalo manure. So the next trick is an “inquiry.” Can anyone recall the last time anyone n the military or the regime was held responsible for anything during an “investigation”?


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