The virus and the rich and powerful

7 06 2021

Thailand’s mass vaccination program has officially begun today. The Ministry of Public Health reckons it probably has “enough” vaccine for the first days and weeks as “the government has brought in more Sinovacs vaccine … to last through June before production of AZ vaccines pick up in July.”

That means “the public will not be able to pick what vaccine they receive in June because we won’t know what vaccine we get from the government until one or two days before the vaccination date,” says a “private hospital administrator who asked to not be named.”

Even so, “many hospitals are postponing their vaccination appointments due to shortages.” These shortages have been officially confirmed and is linked back to the king’s Siam Bioscience:

Sathit Pitutecha, Deputy Minister of Public Health, said the Public Health Ministry had learned that many hospitals had postponed vaccinations booked for today as they were afraid they would not receive enough doses.

“We were aware of this problem, so we will try to ensure the elderly and those with the diseases who registered through the Mor Prom application get their jabs first.

”After that, the ministry will deliver the additional vaccines that we’ve received from the AstraZeneca company,” he said.

The ministry has yet to receive clear information about when the company will deliver.

“The company is trying its best to deliver. They might give us 300,000–500,000 doses at a time. It depends on them,” he said.

As a reminder of how things went wrong with the virus, the Bangkok Post has published a New York Times article on Thailand’s virus wave by Hannah Beech and Muktita Suhartono.

Naturally enough, it begins with the Thonglor clubs favored by Bangkok’s wealthy men, which seemed to ignite the latest wave.

Krystal 2

Krystal Club promotional photo

When the VVIP customers disembarked from their limousines at the Krystal Exclusive Club, young women in tiaras, angel wings and not much else sometimes greeted them.

The VVIP clientele were whisked to the VVIP rooms, with their padded walls and plush sofas. Thai government bigwigs partied at Krystal [and Emerald] … as did diplomats, army officers and business owners. For much of the pandemic, coronavirus restrictions did not stop the fun.

Krystal 1

Krystal Club VIP room

The clubs, their staff, and the wealthy patrons became :

the epicentre of what is now Thailand’s biggest and deadliest coronavirus surge, according to health ministry officials. Scores of people linked to the clubs have tested positive, including an ambassador and a government minister. Police officers and women who worked at the clubs have been infected, too.

The “privileged few catalysed Bangkok’s latest coronavirus outbreak…”. At the same time, the nightclub cluster again “highlights the impunity of the rich in a country with one of the largest wealth gaps among major economies.”

The virus “has now radiated from luxury nightclubs that cater to powerful and wealthy men to the … slums …, prisons, construction camps and factories.” It is Thailand’s third and largest wave.

Responsibility? Never:

When cases involve high-profile tycoons or politicians, though, investigations in Thailand have a habit of fizzling. Murder charges do not materialise. Well-connected individuals slip into exile. Thailand’s three waves of coronavirus infection have crested in the shadowy zones where the rich profit from questionable businesses and defy Covid protocols.

First outbreak: “traced by virologists to a Bangkok boxing stadium operated by the country’s powerful military, which makes money on sports gambling.”

Second outbreak: “tracked by health officials to a sweatshop seafood business, which depends on immigration officers turning a blind eye to workers trafficked from neighbouring countries.”

Chuwit Kamolvisit, who ran massage parlors and paid off police and other officials says: “In Thai culture, we can smile and lie at the same time…”. He pithily describes “Krystal [as] like another Government House, because it’s so popular with those people…”.

Now, as the poor suffer the brunt of the outbreak, a “few wealthy Bangkok residents have boasted on social media about buying vaccination cards from the city’s most desperate residents.” One observer laments: “The rich who are already privileged are stepping on the poor…. They believe their money can buy anything.”

It got them two coups and the authoritarianism they so desired.


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27 07 2021
Bangkok’s primacy | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] and other virus-related reports. Bangkok has been a center of this virus outbreak since the infamous nighttime entertainment exploits of ministers and […]

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