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Opinion: Try Not to Mix Politics With the Outbreak

A woman takes a coronavirus test at Bangkok Youth Center on Apr. 17, 2021.
A woman takes a coronavirus test at Bangkok Youth Center on Apr. 17, 2021.

The third COVID-19 outbreak is upon us. As the number of the newly infected rose above 1,000 mark for the four consecutive days on Saturday, it would do well for Thais to try not to mix COVID-19 with politics.

COVID-19 alone is deadly enough. Likewise, politics can turn deadly as well. And we are not even talking about the COVID-19 induced economic crisis.

Yes, the rot in Thai high society for the third outbreak of the pandemic if you like. We need to hold those who gathered at posh nightlife establishments unprotected and spread a big chunk of the third outbreak responsible. Celebrities, socialites and even a top foreign diplomat.

Then there’s the infected Cabinet minister and the less than capable Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, who while able to maintain 111 as of Friday, failed to thwart waves of economic tsunamis. This year, Thailand Development Research Institute predicts that as many as 1.3 million new graduates may not be able to find job and the total unemployment number could reach 6 million.

But no schadenfreude bitter (please)! That someone from the opposite political spectrum has become infected is no cause for celebration.

Thai politics can become intoxicating and contagious to the point where I have seen some Thais expressing gratification, schadenfreude, at police and politicians infected or undergoing self-isolation due to the latest outbreak.

In the end, we are on the same boat, if not facing the same storm. It is true that the rich and powerful are better sheltered and those involved in the latest outbreak must be condemned and more pressure needs to be applied in order to prevent future irresponsible behaviour disregard of their political belief of social class.

Laughing at the fact that more Thais are becoming infected because you hate their politics or their social class will not help make Thai society better. More infections, no matter from which side of the political divide or which social class is collectively bad news for Thailand. Thais of all political stripes and social class must recognize this and do whatever they can to prevent the society as a collective from facing more severe crises.

Yes, we may be on the same boat but some are traveling first-class while others third-class if not clinging to a raft in the middle of the ocean. Some said a better analogy is Thais are facing the same storm on the sea but the privileged few are on a luxury yacht while most others on a small boat, and many more holding on to a life saver ring to survive economically.

Be that as it may, we all need to take account of Thai society as a collective and ensure that the situation keeps degenerate moves from bad to worse. For example, a number of condominiums in Bangkok are temporarily shutting down their gym facilities and swimming pool despite the government not ordering it on Friday to prevent possible infection.

We cannot lose sight of the immediate danger facing all of us. To mitigate the latest outbreak we need to be united, behave as a responsible member of Thai society. Being a responsible citizen entails we do not put oneself and others unnecessarily at risk of coronavirus but also be sympathetic for people who really need to keep their heads above the water, economically.

If some of the elites will not care for the common goods, it’s up to the rest of us to rise above the occasion and carry on with our civic duties. It’s not time to merely point a finger of blame, indulge in political schadenfreude or abandon our responsibilities.

We also need to push for more rapid inoculation. Just over 500,000 people, or less than 1 percent of the population, have been vaccinated so far. We need pressure to ensure the government to strike a good balance between health and the economy and not unnecessarily impose imbalance measures.

As stated earlier, already 1.3 million new graduates may become unemployed and unemployment number at 6 million this year. The tourism industry is dying after a year of no foreign tourists and some malls heavily dependent of foreign shoppers resemble ghost malls.

Let us be cautious, calm and carry on. If we shall sail through this pandemic, if will be as a house united, not as a house divided against itself. As of now, less than 100 people have died from COVID-19 while the survival rate of those infected is still 99.97 percent while. Only 17 patients are on respiratory ventilators.

The stats and situation should remind us that we’re in this together even though we’re not affected equally. That’s also why in the long run, greater economic equality must be a goal in order to achieve a more equitable Thailand.

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