Going from bad to worse

Going from bad to worse

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, the Prayut Chan-o-cha government is facing a crisis of confidence.

The lockdown measures, closure of construction worker camps and businesses that drive the economy, have failed to contain the virus. Yesterday, new cases surpassed 13,000. In a short time, Thailand's infection rate has grown to outpace that of other top Covid countries.

It is sad to say, but there is no end in sight, while hospitals are running out of beds and medical personnel are exhausted.

Yesterday, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) ordered more businesses and public places to close, worsening the impact on the economy.

The centre said unless people cooperate more, new daily cases could hit 30,000 by August.

This is frustrating as people realise the virus crisis has resulted largely from carelessness, mismanagement and miscalculation on the part of the government. It shows up particularly in the vaccine shortage that has delayed its inoculation campaign which began on June 7.

More importantly, the government depends excessively on Sinovac, despite questions about its efficacy in dealing with the Delta strain that is lashing the country.

The government cannot explain the mysterious AstraZeneca contract, and even though a deal with Pfizer was finally inked, its vaccine won't be delivered until later in the year. Time is not on the government's side.

On top of that, people are aware that the handling of pandemics has been like a political game in which some parties try to reap the benefits.

As discontent grows, calls for Gen Prayut to resign intensify. The Thailand Development Research Institute, a think tank that has avoided criticising the government too harshly, in a rare move called for it to take responsibility for its poor performance.

Yet the embattled PM vowed he would not give up, even though his mantra, "we will win together", has lost its appeal.

This comes amid signs of a widening rift in the coalition as politicians from the PPRP and Bhumjaithai (BJT) start pointing the finger at one another.

The BJT insists it's the PM who handles orders for an alternative vaccine, as he assigned a team of medical experts to look into the matter.

The PPRP hit back, citing Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul's refusal to diversify vaccine sources from the beginning of the outbreak.

With such rows breaking out, the government will have an even tougher time handling the pandemic.

Now there are efforts to scapegoat state authorities, with Opas Karnkawinpong, head of Disease Control Department (DCD) under the Ministry of Public Health, the latest target.

Sira Jenjaka, an aide to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, suggests the DCD chief be dismissed.

But it's not fair to demonise state officials who have followed government policy. Such moves would demoralise those in public health circles, the very people who are in the front line in the war against Covid-19.

Next month could see a crucial development politically as parliament is to reconvene for a no-confidence debate.

Under normal circumstances, the opposition would be unlikely to land many blows on the government. But during this time of Covid-19 crisis, there is no real normality, especially when public trust in Gen Prayut and his government has hit rock bottom.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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