Updated: Military screws Thailand again II

15 07 2020

The double standards and impunity evident in the virus quarantine fail episode have caused much anger and the regime has gone into deep damage control.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “has apologised to the people for lax Covid-91 measures which failed to effectively put dozens of foreign visitors [in Rayong] in quarantine.” He stated: “It shows no respect of the rules and a lack of discipline…”.

We think he’s wrong. What has happened reflects the impunity the military enjoys. “Discipline” in the military involves knowing one’s place in the hierarchy and granting privileges to those in uniform.

Gen Prayuth also said “he is taking responsibility for the incident…”. That seems to mean little as no one believes he’s doing more than damage control.

Taweesin Visanuyothin, the spokesman of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, previously said of the incident: “it was not a mistake.” He added: “We will not lay the blame on anyone since they have been authorized to do so…”.

He faced a barrage of criticism and soon changed tack: “We can’t deny responsibility…. We apologize and appreciate everyone for their cooperation.”

PPT have no idea what the last phrase means.

Army chief Apirat Kongsompong has trouble expressing regret or taking responsibility. Gen Apirat claims he’s “a victim of unfounded rumors,” and grumbles “I’m always to blame…”, adding:“The army is not involved with it, and the [Egyptian aircrews] are not the guest of the army.”

So the air force is the problem but Utapao airport director Kritchaphon Rianglekjamnong “said the Egyptian Air Force’s transport plane was approved by the government for a refueling stop, and the crew went through appropriate checkpoints upon arrival.” Nothing to see there he says and blames others: the Rayong provincial public health office.

As Khaosod observes, and as most of the population has been thinking:

In a contrast to the government’s harsh enforcement of pandemic health measures on members of the public, no charge was filed against any government or military officials responsible for the Egyptian pilots’ arrivals and quarantine.

And, as everyone knows, this is not the only similar case. There were the lies about the visit by the American general and his entourage. And, there was the case of special treatment of a Sudanese diplomat’s family.

We reckon the taking of “responsibility” and offering “apologies” amounts to very little if no one is held to have done anything wrong (apart from a few low-level scapegoats).

Update: Who knew!? According to the Middle East Monitor, it is the Egyptian Embassy that was responsible for quarantining the Egyptian military personnel who dragged themselves around Rayong, shopping and so on. The report states:

Thailand has summoned the Egyptian ambassador after an Egyptian military crew member left a hotel where he was supposed to be self-isolating and later tested positive for COVID-19.

Spokesman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, Taweeslip Visanuyothin, blamed the Egyptian embassy for sending the crew to a hotel rather than a state quarantine facility….

The Director General of the Department of South Asian, Middle East and African Affairs, Dusit Manapan, has asked Egypt to comply with regulations and measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Phew! That lets the regime and Thai military off the hook. Or so they hope.


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