We are now almost a month into the state of emergency in Thailand, and it is evident that the Thai economy will not be the same again for years, maybe forever.
For many Thai citizens who live hand-to-mouth and rely heavily on Thailand’s tourism industry, the future is more uncertain than ever.
The government’s response to the coronavirus has been weak. A state of emergency declared, a curfew imposed, businesses shut down, and a paltry 5,000 baht cash handout that may or may not even last for the promised three months.
Citizens are becoming frustrated at the government’s lack of assistance. Of the 27 million informal workers that applied for the cash handout, only approximately half were approved.
What about the other half? These people work in the tourism, food, service, and entertainment sectors. Who knows when their next paycheck will come?
Chare Kunwong, a 46-year-old masseur who mainly works with tourists is angry with the government saying they “haven’t helped me with anything.”
It’s no surprise really. All indications show the Thai Government has no idea what to do about the coronavirus situation. The Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, even wrote an open letter to Thailand’s wealthiest residents for “assistance and guidance.”
Mr. Kunwong was voicing his frustration with the government while queuing up for free food handouts in Bangkok’s historic quarter. He was waiting for packages of rice, noodles, milk, and curry.
Donations have become common across Thailand over the past weeks. However, the government once again shows a lack of understanding by instructing police to break up citizen donations around the country.
It has happened in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom – all over the country. While gathering crowds lead to a lack of social distancing, the excuse used by police, there needs to be a system in place to allow these donations to happen.
Set up donation areas where citizens can leave food for the needy. Create a hotline for people to call who wish to donate food to the public. There has been no real and proper solution to assist citizens who wish to donate.
The desperation of many Thai citizens is summed up by Mr. Kunwong as he collected his packets of food. He cannot wait for the government to make decisions, saying “If I wait for the government’s aid then I’ll be dead first.”
Source: AFP | Photo: AFP