Connect with us

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Concerns raised over Thai PM’s new Covid powers




Concerns are being raised over Thailand’s PM being handed sweeping Covid powers which could promote an increase in real or perceived “authoritarianism”. Critics say he could assert even more control under the guise of handling the pandemic. The newly appointed powers were published in the official Royal Gazette, which detailed 31 laws now being under direct control of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. The wording below, has sent opposition parties into a frenzy…

“…temporarily in order to suppress the [virus] situation and protect the people.”

Immigration, health and procurement, areas of cybersecurity and defense are all areas of control that were handed over to PM Prayut. The range of powers have not been given an expiration date, which is worrisome to those who fear history will repeat itself in terms of former generals staying largely in charge of the country. Thailand has seen 13 coups since 1932. Paul Chambers, an academic at the Center of ASEAN Community Studies at Naresuan University in Phitsanulok, Thailnd, says the move is a classic example of enabling dictatorship.

“Thailand has become the classic example of leaders with autocratic preferences using Covid-19 to rationalise a descent into dictatorship. What we are seeing today could be Prayut’s enhanced Covid coup.”

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher with the Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division also chimed in on the criticisms. He warned that Prayut’s control of cybersecurity could be used to “shut down critical opinions from the media and public about the government’s response to the crisis.”

“Old habits die hard. Prayuth has seized power from cabinet ministers to establish one-man-rule using Covid-19 outbreak as a pretext. It is a silent coup.”

Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of Thai Liberal Party, also posed questions over the move.

“Prayuth has one brain and two hands … how can he manage the whole country himself?”

Prayut, who previously was an army chief, seized power from an elected government in 2014 and rebranded himself as a civilian leader. In 2019, he won an election under a constitution that was drafted by the army to limit the electoral powers of his opposition and has had his legislative agenda, waved by a Senate that he appointed, through parliament.

Today, Thailand reports 1,583 new Covid-19 infections and 15 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic last year, a total of 65,153 Covid-19 infections and 203 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Thailand. This third round of the pandemic has been the worst yet for Thailand, with the public questioning the government’s leadership as the cases have risen recently, on average, to 2,000 cases a day and 84 dead.

Vaccination administration has also been criticised as sluggish, with just 240,000 people out of a population of almost 70 million receiving a second dose, while the virus’ resurfacing has caused doubt around reopening the key tourist industry over the next few months.



Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.



  1. Avatar

    Dynamo Dave

    Friday, April 30, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    Here’s the comment I posted on Wednesday’s report regarding Prayut ‘having been handed full control’ . . . in order to improve efficiency, it was argued.

    ‘Apart from an immediate lockdown of Bangkok and other hot-zone provinces – and his instituting another Emergency Decree of course (he loves that total power) – there’s not a lot of choice for Thailand’s new Covid-19 Czar, having already allowed the present carnage, whilst demonstrating that HE doesn’t need to wear a mask. Little hope for Thailand I fear.’

    And now, it looks even worse, since there is no clear-cut route to ending the man’s craving for dictatorial power.

  2. Avatar


    Friday, April 30, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    sad for still so many more people who will suffer. as long as people in charge have no education and/or experience with virology and pandemics, everything to do with Covid-19 will continue to be ineffective and inefficient.

  3. Avatar


    Friday, April 30, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    More and more dramatic. My poor Thailand where are you going to? It seems that you disappear more and more with your population in this SandBox. What a pitty…

  4. Avatar


    Friday, April 30, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    Every dictatorship started with a national crisis. Out of fear and desperation, the citizens hand over power to a leader who will “protect” them. This is exactly what is happening here, and to a lesser extent, in the West.

  5. Avatar


    Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 8:16 am

    And the media is complicit, relaying these ridiculous covid “statistics” without scrutiny.

  6. Avatar


    Friday, June 4, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Thailand just took another nosedive.Looking at this report, the future will only get darker and darker as long as this dog stays in power. And Im not even talking about his mismanagement of covid

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Expert says Delta Plus could be up to 15% more transmissible than Delta Covid variant

Thailand5 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Dirty medical gloves, Thailand defends spending 100m on New year celebrations | Oct. 26

Thailand5 hours ago

Digital platforms to be subject to new regulations following draft decree

Sponsored6 hours ago

Don’t wait!! Book your berth or booth at the Thailand International Boat Show

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Bangkok5 hours ago

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport prepares for November reopening

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 7,706 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand6 hours ago

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha addresses Southeast Asia leaders at 38th ASEAN summit

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand9 hours ago

November reopening concerns majority of Thais, Department of Health survey shows

Thailand9 hours ago

British divers say they risked arrest for giving boys ketamine during cave rescue

World10 hours ago

US President Biden to join ASEAN summit as leaders poised to discuss key regional issues

Thailand12 hours ago

Prayut orders investigation into used medical gloves exported to the US

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

Health officials play down concerns over Thailand’s first case of Delta Plus variant

Bangkok12 hours ago

Chulalongkorn students drop royal parade on grounds it promotes “authoritarianism”

Thailand12 hours ago

Thailand Top Stories | TAT explains entry for travelers outside quarantine exemption list | October 26

Phuket13 hours ago

Thai PM defends plan to spend 100 million baht on New Year’s Eve celebrities

Tourism13 hours ago

Government’s domestic tour package subsidy receives lukewarm response

Thailand1 month ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism8 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11