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Thailand increasingly blaming caucasians for coronavirus crisis

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Public Health Minister Autin Charnvirakul complains of foreigners not wearing facemasks - The Thaiger

As the global epicentre of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic shifts from China to Europe, racism is not far behind, least of all here in the virus-hit kingdom of Thailand.

With new restrictions on inbound travellers now in place, including mandatory health certificates and proof of health insurance, caucasians (white skinned westerners aka. ‘farang’) are increasingly being blamed for the country’s growing outbreak.

The total confirmed cases reached 721 today as 122 new cases were announced, a drop from yesterday’s record 188. Thailand has so far reported only one Covid-19 related death.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has publicly blamed “dirty” Caucasian tourists for spreading the virus. His xenophobic comments have been shared with a level of local online approval.

“90% of Thais are wearing masks. However, none of the Caucasians are wearing masks. This is the reason our country is being infected. We should be more careful of the Caucasians than Asians.”

“Right now, it’s winter in Europe, and with the coronavirus outbreak, they have all fled the cold and the virus to come into warm Thailand. Many of them are dirty and do not shower,” the minister tweeted in Thai at the start of the month.

The tweet was deleted hours later, after it was widely condemned. It was not immediately clear where Anutin, a construction tycoon rather than medical professional, got his 90% statistic for mask-wearing Thais.

The Health Ministry later said that while the Twitter account in question did indeed belong to Anutin, his staff sometimes post tweets on his behalf. Anutin himself, who is often questioned about his prime ministerial ambitions, has not publicly apologised for the tweet.

On February 7, Anutin, whose family runs the Sino-Thai Construction company, said on-camera during a Health Ministry media event in Bangkok (while clearly not wearing a mask)…

“Those damn Caucasian tourists, that is something the embassies should be notified of, and the public as well, that they are not wearing medical face masks. They need to be kicked out of Thailand!”

Such racist remarks risk hitting the nation’s already devastated tourism industry, which accounts for as much as 14-18% of GDP and has previously relied heavily on high-spending Western travellers.

Officials have provided conflicting, overlapping and often contradictory information regarding travel restrictions, especially over key issues like whether they have or haven’t been imposed on certain countries. While health authorities say most of the new cases have been local transmissions among Thais who recently travelled to heavily infected countries, including Italy, Japan and South Korea, westerners are nonetheless bearing much of the blame.

A March 15 The Thaiger wrote and editorial criticising Anutin for his racist taunts to westerners.

Tourists and expats have expressed fear that the health minister’s anti-Western messages could spark racist attacks against them in the street.

The sudden rise of anti-Caucasian racism follows an earlier surge of anti-China sentiment when the virus first appeared in Thailand in January. Then, Thai officials tried to repress, rather than stoke the xenophobia.

In Chiang Mai, police told a Thai restaurant owner in February to remove a sign in front of her eatery which said in English: “We apologise we are not accepting CHINESE customers. Thank you.”

The Thaiger recommends wearing a face mask in public whilst in Thailand as a public assurance for Thais and an acknowledgment of their preference to wear a face mask, whether of medical value or not, at this time.

SOURCE: The Asian Times

 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ian

    Monday, March 23, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Thailand licking china’s arse because they want their dirty money.
    It has long been known that they don’t want Falang tourists. I only come here now because my wife is Thai, otherwise I would go to countries where I am welcome!

  2. Avatar

    Taxsin

    Monday, March 23, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Mr Anutin is really a person of no interest and with poor education. it seems like his minister status is bought too him with his money and he is doing no good for his country at all. Rip him of his minister status and let him go back to bricklaying instead!

  3. Avatar

    Geoff

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Face masks are doing double duty in Chiang Mai with the world beating air pollution we are suffering with again at this time of year as well as the virus threat — so many people farang and Thai are wearing masks up here. Maybe the Health Minister could come up with a better government solution to the air pollution problem, which isn’t, incidently , caused by dirty farang — just saying “burning is banned” doesn’t appear to be solving the problem.

  4. Avatar

    Frank Hartley

    Sunday, April 5, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    The Thai health minister has always been blaming Caucasians or falang for spreading the Covid19 instead of his own people. Just recently a Thai women flew from Germany to Krabi and she had a cold and coughing. When she fell ill on arrival Thailand she still went round to visit everyone and spred the virus, being very selfish. Now the government have to try and find all the people on the plane plus the people she met in various locations, this is Thai attitude not Falang thank you…..please put the blame on everyone not just Caucasians in general, its not appropriate at these un certain times………

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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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