Further updated: 120 days…

17 06 2021

Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has announced that Thailand “will be fully reopened within 120 days, with all businesses able to resume normal operations and visitors free to travel across the country,” for those who have been fully vaccinated.

The idea of getting countries and borders open again and for the acceptance of some risk is laudable. Yet Gen Prayuth seems petrified that the economy is in deep trouble: “When we take into consideration the economic needs of people, the time has now come for us to take that calculated risk…”. He hopes tourism will be its savior: “I am setting a goal for us to be able to declare Thailand fully open within 120 days from today, and for tourism centres that are ready, to do so even faster…”.

But the question is: how much risk? When he says, “[w]e cannot wait for a time when everyone is fully vaccinated with two shots, or for when the world is free of the virus, to reopen the country…”, he’s gambling rather than risk-taking, hoping that about 50 million people would have received at least their first Covid jab by then.” He’s gambling that the regime can get sufficient vaccine delivered and that 10 million a month can be vaccinated. He’s also gambling that one shot will reduce infection rates and seriousness of the illnesses. 

Gen Prayuth acknowledged that the target for vaccination is only achievable “if there are enough vaccines.”

The unanswered questions are not just about vaccine availability, but of vaccine efficacy. Not all the places using mainly Chinese vaccines aren’t doing well after first jabs. Australia has just further limited the use of AstraZeneca

To lay such bets, the economy must be in very serious trouble. Anecdotal evidence is of very large unemployment, increased debt, and now factories are struggling to get workers when migrants are restricted and the virus is raging through many factory areas. Fear of further economic decline seems to motivate some big bets. It might also be that Gen Prayuth and the regime worry about an election backlash if the economy gets worse.

Update 1: Reuters discusses “reopening within 120 days as economy flounders…”.

Update 2: Gen Prayuth’s 120 days to re-opening has already had a couple of setbacks. First, he’s now setting conditions on re-opening. Second, the vaccine drive now looks like it will have to rely even more on Chinese vaccines. The problem there is that there are more side effects even than AstraZeneca emerging and reports of limited effectiveness are coming out every day.



One response

28 07 2021
Irrational hubris | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] that it was about 40 or so days ago that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha stated that Thailand would re-open in 120 days, he’s now come up with another “bold” […]

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