Connect with us

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Not much of an apology – Thai Health Minister’s non-apology

The Thaiger

Published 

 on 

Not much of an apology – Thai Health Minister’s non-apology | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul handing out paper face masks - France24
  • follow us in feedly

OPINION by Tim Newton

Yesterday morning the Thai Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, also the head of the Bhumjaithai Party, lost his cool and struck out at ‘Europeans’ and ‘damn farangs’ (caucasians) saying they “should be kicked out” of Thailand for not wearing the cheap, flimsy paper face masks being handed out at the busy Siam BTS station as a government PR stunt.

Worthy as his attempts were, to press BTS travellers to adopt a precautionary attitude about the current coronavirus outbreak, mostly confined to China (all but 300 of the cases are within mainland China), his appearance did a lot more harm than good.

There was little right about the media presser from the start.

Flanked by his minions, all adorned with the flimsy pale blue face masks (which usually cost around 20 baht when the pharmacies aren’t price-gouging the situation), he spoke about Thailand’s success in limiting the outbreak within the Kingdom.

Just the day before he made another of his changes of mind saying that Thailand won’t be closing its borders to Chinese travellers.

“Thailand’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul now says imposing a travel ban on Chinese citizens won’t help the government’s fight against coronavirus 2019nCov epidemic.”

A week ago he was insisting that Thailand would have to stop flights out of China, a proposal that was challenged by the Sports and Tourism Minister and eventually voted at last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting as “excessive”.

Whether that decision was right or wrong, we’ll leave that to the scientists and World Health Organisation to explain in coming months.

As Anutin started speaking to the awaiting media pack, ironically without his face mask in place, he noted that some ‘farang’ weren’t taking the face-masks being offered.

“They don’t care about the big picture. They don’t have any consideration to the situation.”

“… non-compliant behaviours of foreigners should be reported to embassies”.

“All damn farangs, those tourists… that’s something the embassies should be notified about and the public as well that are not wearing masks.”

“We’re handing them out and they still refuse. They need to be kicked out of Thailand!”

“We’re giving the masks to them and they still refuse.”

“The Chinese, the Asians… they are all taking the masks, but those Europeans… that’s unbelievable.”

THOSE Europeans, the ‘farangs’ he was deriding, have provided the back-bone of Thailand’s growing tourism industry for decades until the Chinese started visiting Thailand in large numbers since around 2014. The numbers of Europeans have remained steady but, as a proportion, their percentage has been slowly dropping. But they’re still a vital component to the Thai tourism mix.

But his later apology, mid afternoon on the same day, wasn’t much of an apology. He apologised for his racially-charged remarks. He blamed his outburst… “on ill manners displayed by some foreigners”.

So rather than unreservedly apologising for his comments he just doubled-down and blamed the foreigners again.

“I’m sorry for losing my temper to foreigners today. I couldn’t tell where the foreigners came from or how much risk they pose.”

“We expected respect and cooperation in mitigating the outbreak from them, not slapping our hands away or looking at us in a demeaning way.

But there was a venom behind his original outburst too, beyond the actual words themselves, that was particularly worrisome. Beyond the venom was a tinge of racism that should concern anyone who is ‘caucasian’ and living in, or visiting, Thailand. The rant, from a minister, officially appointed by the Head of State, was inappropriate, ill-considered and reflected poorly on the Prayut Government.

If you’ve lived in Thailand over the term of the Prayut military, and recently quasi-democratic, government, you’d know that that there’s been a push (or is that ‘putsch’) to make it more difficult for foreigners to reside and work in the Land of Smiles. Of course the Thai government are well entitled to make foreigners jump through as many hoops as they want – it’s their country.

There has been a few ill-tempered comments coming from Immigration officials, and even the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsawon, in the past, blaming foreigners for Thailand’s problems. But this was probably the most direct reflection of those inner racial tensions coming to the surface in front of 50 cameras recording his every word.

And his words, caught in sharp focus on numerous cameras, and republished in hundreds of articles, are making the round in world media. It’s not a good look.

Thailand’s health minister lashed out at “Western” tourists on Friday for not wearing face masks and suggested they be expelled from the country for putting others at risk during the coronavirus outbreak – France24

Some tourists refused to accept the surgical masks, prompting his comments. He later apologised on his Facebook page for “losing it” – Bloomberg

Even the word ‘farang’ is one that makes a lot of ‘white’ foreigners bristle. When used by the vast majority of Thais, it’s just a word that’s been used for centuries to describe the ‘round-eyed’ white foreigners. Similar terms have mostly disappeared from polite discourse in the west. The indigenous Australians, are no longer referred to as ‘black fellas’ and the word ‘negro’ is considered utterly verboten in the US. Similar terminology has vanished in civilised conversation around the world because it’s now recognised as racially-charged and a completely unscientific way of defining the disparate tribes of humans. Anthropologically, we are all one race – the human race.

But there’s still plenty of residual racism around the world, not the least in Asia where historical hatreds will take generations to pass. Maybe us ‘farang’ were too hopeful that the easy-going Thais, with their willing smile and accommodating culture were too good to be true. Maybe we ARE all just walking ‘white’ ATM cards afterall, ready to be siphoned as we plough through the myriad ‘misunderstandings’ and paperwork obstacle courses at the Immigration offices. We’re just deep pockets of cash to visit Thailand as tourists, then leave, please.

Despite Anutin’s outburst, it should be discussed why he was there in the first place. It was a well-timed PR opportunity at Bangkok’s busiest BTS (Skytrain) station, just after the morning peak. The Bangkok press were invited to witness his grand gesture of handing out the ubiquitious pale blue paper face masks to passengers.

If Thai people, or anyone else in the world, hasn’t already realised that wearing a cheap, poorly-fitting piece of paper will do approximately NOTHING to protect you from Coronavirus, then you haven’t been doing your homework. The face masks, properly fitted, are a useful tool for doctors and clinicians in close contact with infected patients. They are also useful in helping prevent coughing and sneezing patients from spreading their germs.

But the virus in not ‘airborne’ and isn’t floating around waiting for you to walk into it (which appears to be the way many think it is transmitted, judging by their behaviour).

Even the World Health Organisation has published papers and websites about the unsuitability for wearing of paper face masks as a prevention for the current coronavirus outbreak. Indeed, it’s much more about washing your hands and avoiding touching your face when around infected patients. Anutin would have been better handing out washing basins and hand sanitisers if he wanted to be helpful.

And this guy is the Health Minister…. you know, the Minister of Health!! He should 1) know better 2) have been given better advice and 3) saved the government money and stayed back in his office reading the WHO published material.

Dear Minister, click below…

 

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Billy Johnson

    March 23, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    When I depart Thailand this week ( assuming that my flight will not be canceled) I am not sure that I will ever return after the covid situation has passed. I am very offended by the health minister’s racist comments. I don’t want to visit a country where I am not welcome. I take showers everyday. I maintain good health and never have I been sick. I’m not sure if I am considered a European fariang since I am from the United States but I guess I might be since I’m one of those dirty white Caucasians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket migrant workers permitted to return home

Sean Kelly

Published

on

Phuket migrant workers permitted to return home | The Thaiger

Some migrant workers were allowed to leave Phuket to return to their homes yesterday, as the provincial administration agreed to temporarily lift the travel ban so they could rejoin their families.

One worker who hails from the nearby province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, told Thai PBS that he has been out of work for 2 months, and his family could no longer earn a living in Phuket. His wife was also out of work because the hotel she was employed with was recently ordered closed , along with other hotels on the island, by the governor.

Now both out of work, the unemployed husband and wife asked Phuket administration if they may return to their home province where they would at least have free accommodation and food to eat, plus be back with their families.

Since the provincial administration restricted the movement of people in and out of the province to slow the spread of Covid-19, unemployed migrant workers have not been permitted to leave until now.

Before leaving Phuket yesterday, a senior official explained to the workers about the need to restrict travel, and after their departure, they will not be allowed to return until at least the end of this month. The workers insisted that they was willing to enter mandatory quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Visa amnesty signed by PM

Greeley Pulitzer

Published

on

UPDATE: Visa amnesty signed by PM | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter

UPDATE: PM Prayut Chan-o-cha today signed an executive order granting visa amnesty to foreigners left stranded in Thailand by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The order, released by the Ministry of Interior, grants “special permission for some classes of aliens to stay in the Kingdom.”

It was signed by Prayuth and head of the Ministry of Interior, Anupong Paochinda.

ORIGINAL STORY:
With many flights cancelled, entire fleets grounded and hotels ordered closed, thousands of tourists and expats across Thailand are in a state of limbo… unable to leave, not allowed to stay. To make matters worse, social distancing requirements are creating chaos at crowded immigration offices nationwide, and onerous new requirements have been added for visa extensions. The situation has put foreigners and immigration officials at additional risk.

But the Immigration Bureau has announced that the Cabinet has approved a plan to offer automatic visa extensions for foreigners, though it will not come into effect until it has been signed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

An immigration spokesman says a set of new rules, which also includes visa amnesty, has been approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs and is due to be inked by the PM soon. The measure follows complaints of overcrowding and risk of virus infection at immigration offices across the country.

“It will be signed by the PM soon. Please wait for official announcements and don’t fall for online rumours.”

Details of the new rules emerged yesterday after local blogger Richard Barrow wrote on his social media platforms that the bureau has proposed plans to give every foreign national an automatic 30 day stay extension, citing sources within Immigration.

Richard also noted that the 90-day reporting will be temporarily suspended and those who have obtained permanent resident status will not lose their status if they are not able to return to Thailand within a one year period.

Visa amnesty will be granted to every foreigner, but the post did not elaborate on how it will be enforced.

“This is ready to be implemented straight away, but the Immigration Bureau cannot start until it has been signed by the PM. From what I understand, it’s already in the prime minister’s office. They are optimistic he will sign it very soon.”

“I just got off the phone with another Immigration official. So, it looks like the photos that I tweeted of long queues have caught the attention of the right people.”

But immigration officials said that concerned foreigners shouldn’t rely on online rumours…

“Who is he? He is not the Immigration Bureau. How could he come out to say something like that?We will make official announcements when it becomes effective.”

SOURCE: Khaosod English | thaivisa

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket officially announces restricted travel between districts from April 13

Anukul

Published

on

Phuket officially announces restricted travel between districts from April 13 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TheThaiger

Phuket prepares to close off every district on April 13, for 14 days. Phuket officials have already ordered the closure of more than 6 sub-districts includes Patong, Kathu, Rawai, Karon, Kata and Pla Klok Districts.

Pakpong Thawiphat, the Phuket Governor has given a live interview on MCOT, explaining in-depth that Phuket will close all the remaining sub-districts from April 13 for 14 days. He stressed that it is not a new curfew as people will still be able to travel within their own district.

The Phuket Communicable Disease Committee have also agreed that the remaining sub-districts should be shut down and all 17 districts will have a screening point along roads into their areas.

The reduction of movement from the locals will allow officials to help prevent further spread of the disease.

The announcement say that you are allowed to leave your house for important errands (including shopping for food and supplies, or medical care) but you must follow the 10pm – 4am curfew and not to travel between the districts. The Communicable Disease Committee Phuket say they hope that the situation would have improved by April 30.

🔴 #ด่วน❗️ #ภูเก็ต #ปิดทุกตำบลเริ่ม 13 เม.ย. นี่ผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัดภูเก็ต ให้สัมภาษณ์สดช่อง 9 MCOT เมื่อสักครู่ว่า ภูเก็ตมีทั้งหมด 17 ตำบล สั่งปิดไปแล้ว 6 ตำบล อีก 11 ตำบลที่เหลือ จะถูกสั่งปิดทั้งหมด ภายในวันที่ 13 นี้ (วันสงกรานต์คือ วันปิดเกาะโดยสมบูรณ์) เป็นเวลาทั้งสิ้น 14 วัน ผู้คนยังคงออกนอกเคหะสถานได้ แต่ออกนอกเขตตำบลไม่ได้ ให้อยู่แต่ในตำบลของตนเอง และภูเก็ตจะเป็นจังหวัดแรกในประเทศไทย ที่ใช้มาตรการนี้

Posted by เสียงประชาชน คนภูเก็ต Phuket People’s Voice on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

SOURCE: Phuket People’s Voice

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading
ผู้ติดเชื้อ COVID 19 จะแสดงอาการอย่างไรในแต่ละวัน | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย2 weeks ago

ผู้ติดเชื้อ COVID 19 จะแสดงอาการอย่างไรในแต่ละวัน

Covid-19 กำลังทดสอบประเทศของเราและสังคมของเรา ชีวิตสุขภาพและงานถูกคุกคาม | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย2 weeks ago

Covid-19 กำลังทดสอบประเทศของเราและสังคมของเรา ชีวิตสุขภาพและงานถูกคุกคาม

ส้มตำปลาร้า อีสานอินดี้ | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย4 weeks ago

ส้มตำปลาร้า อีสานอินดี้

Thailand News Today – March 6, 2020 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 month ago

Thailand News Today – March 6, 2020

คนถนัดซ้ายและขวา ต่างกันยังไง | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย1 month ago

คนถนัดซ้ายและขวา ต่างกันยังไง

เกมหนอน slither io เล่นกับเพื่อน | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย1 month ago

เกมหนอน slither io เล่นกับเพื่อน

รีวิวมาม่าที่แพงที่สุดใน 7-11 | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย1 month ago

รีวิวมาม่าที่แพงที่สุดใน 7-11

Thailand News Today, February 28, 2020. Daily TV news update. | The Thaiger
Thailand1 month ago

Thailand News Today, February 28, 2020. Daily TV news update.

หัดตีกอล์ฟครั้งแรกในชีวิต คิดว่าตีโดนมั้ย | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย1 month ago

หัดตีกอล์ฟครั้งแรกในชีวิต คิดว่าตีโดนมั้ย

สื่อนอกตีข่าว ช่อ อภิปรายรัฐบาลพลเอกประยุทธ์ เอี่ยวคดี #1MDB | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง1 month ago

สื่อนอกตีข่าว ช่อ อภิปรายรัฐบาลพลเอกประยุทธ์ เอี่ยวคดี #1MDB

เกมแรกก็เอาเลย ! คลิป: มุ้ย ธีรศิลป์ ซัดให้ ชิมิสุ เอส-พัลส์ ออกนำ เอฟซี โตเกียว 1-0 | The Thaiger
เจลีก2 months ago

เกมแรกก็เอาเลย ! คลิป: มุ้ย ธีรศิลป์ ซัดให้ ชิมิสุ เอส-พัลส์ ออกนำ เอฟซี โตเกียว 1-0

Samsung S10 lite สเปคแรง เล่นเกมส์ดี จริงมั้ย?? | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย2 months ago

Samsung S10 lite สเปคแรง เล่นเกมส์ดี จริงมั้ย??

แปลภาษา ด้วยฟีเจอร์กล้องใน Google Translate | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย2 months ago

แปลภาษา ด้วยฟีเจอร์กล้องใน Google Translate

7 สัญญาณ บ่งบอกว่า เขาชอบคุณ | The Thaiger
คลิป2 months ago

7 สัญญาณ บ่งบอกว่า เขาชอบคุณ

10 อันดับ พิธีกรรมสุดแปลกจากทั่วโลก | The Thaiger
สื่อไทย2 months ago

10 อันดับ พิธีกรรมสุดแปลกจากทั่วโลก

Trending