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Thanathorn suggests 4 changes to government’s handling of pandemic



PHOTO: Flickr/Prachatai

The former leader of a now-disbanded opposition party has suggested 4 ways the government could improve its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, former leader of the Future Forward Party, and now chairman of the Progressive Movement, has posted his suggestions on the group’s Facebook page.

According to a Bangkok Post report, the suggestions relate to the Kingdom’s vaccine procurement and rollout, relief measures, and restrictions to curtail the latest outbreak. While commending the government’s decision to procure vaccines from manufacturers other than AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech, Thanathorn says it’s all going too slowly.

“We are unlikely to get any of them before the fourth quarter. I fully support the negotiating team and if it manages to speed up deliveries, Thais will stand to gain. The process is already too slow.”

He was referring to a recent statement from PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, in which he said Thailand would attempt to purchase vaccines from Russia and the United States. Thanathorn says the rollout of existing vaccines is also too slow and could be improved. According to data from The Economist, Thailand ranks 128 out of 161 countries in terms of the percentage of its population vaccinated (currently just 1%).

“The vaccination progress to date has reflected a lack of efficiency. The number of doses administered is too low and there appear to be no preparation plans. With good management, the performance and publicity (of the vaccination) could be improved. I believe we can administer 10 million doses a month (as promised by the government). But nobody has told us how.”

Addressing the impact of the economic fallout on businesses, Thanathorn says the tough restrictions imposed during the first wave of the virus has severely affected people, with a lack of adequate measures to cushion the blow.

“Now, we’re in a semi-lockdown with no accommodating economic measures, a highly risky situation. We’re keeping the lid on businesses but offering operators no relief.”

Of the 1 trillion baht Covid-19 stimulus package, he suggests spending the 250 billion baht that remains on 2 groups. Small businesses should have 50% of payroll costs subsidised if they guarantee not to lay off any workers, while people should also be offered a 3,000 baht monthly handout, which Thanathorn insists the government can still afford.

He adds that many people have no confidence in the current administration to guide them through the pandemic. He claims this is a result of the government’s attitude that sees ordinary people as a burden, despite the fact that this latest wave was sparked by the behaviour of the elite.

“The administration must change its mindset and realise that it is their responsibility – people are not the burden. They must handle the situation without discrimination and with full disclosure and sincerity in taking care of people.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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