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Anutin misspoke again, later apologises, again



PHOTO: thaivisa

“We’re not happy with some health personnel who do not take good care of themselves. They should have set an example for others.”

Thailand’s volatile Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul yesterday criticised medical personnel infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus , drawing furious responses on social media until he apologised, again.

The deputy PM and Bhumjaithai Party leader originally told reporters no health personnel had caught the virus while on duty.

“As far as I know from a report, no doctor has been infected while they were treating Covid-19 patients.”

His ministry reported earlier in the day that at least 11 health personnel were among the new infections.

Angry reactions to his controversial remarks on social media made the “#anutin” a top trending hashtag on Twitter. “Thank you for your advice,” one user tweeted.

The gaffe-prone minister later apologised in an online video clip, saying he was “under pressure” and had “not carefully listened to the question.”

“I have no intention to criticise anybody. I admire all of them.”

One Twitter user wrote after his video appearance: “Too late though. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Anutin has made plenty of headlines in recent weeks with his fiery remarks. Last month, he apologised for televised comments that foreigners should be “kicked out of Thailand” for refusing to wear face masks.

On March 4 he (or someone) shut down his Facebook account after a post that said all visitors from certain countries would face mandatory self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Thailand. The post had his department’s crest and his signature. A few hours later it was gone but not before being widely shared by others and the Thai media. He later claimed it was not he who posted the message.

Anutin came blazing back on March 12 with the @anutin_c Twitter account, which was also closed later after complained that Western tourists he saw on a trip to Chiang Mai were dirty.

“Many farang dress dirty and don’t shower. As hosts we have to be very careful.”

Anutin appears to have been sidelined since PM Prayut Chan-o-cha declared the state of emergency, effective yesterday. Under the emergency decree, as head of the coronavirus crisis committee, Prayut has full authority to handle the situation, effectively making him acting health minister. While related ministers are on the committee, it is permanent secretaries who have been appointed chiefs of operations, and take orders directly from Prayut.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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