High-priced ‘public strategy firm’ once hired by Paul Manafort defends Thai government’s coronavirus response

A high-priced international ‘public strategy firm’ has been sending out press releases defending the Thai government’s coronavirus response.

Mercury LLC, with operational headquarters in New York and London, said in their press release that the Thai government “have successfully slowed the spread of coronavirus in Thailand.”

Mercury has clients around the world including political parties in Africa and Latin America as well as jailed former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort. According to the New York Times, Manafort hired Mercury to defend the pro-Russia former president of Ukraine from his own people and press.

Strange press release

The email, sent by Mercury’s London Director Alex Walker, said that the Thai government, “has kept infection rates low through a combination of top-down government measures, bottom-up social changes,” and perhaps most strangely Thailand’s “high levels of testing.”

Mercury, then, for some reason compared Thailand’s response to the UK’s:

“Crucially, Thailand has the ability to run up to 20,000 tests a day nation-wide, significantly above the UK’s current maximum daily testing level of 10,000.”

Thailand’s government said this week that it has not conducted mass testing because it was not cost-efficient and defended its focus-testing programs which it said was sufficient in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

Thai government statistics show that Thailand tests only 1,079 cases per 1 million citizens. The UK meanwhile conducts 2,884 cases per 1 million citizens.

Thailand has only conducted 71,860 tests since the outbreak began despite having the capacity to conduct 20,000 tests per day. The UK meanwhile, despite starting later than Thailand, has conducted 195,535 cases.

Government denial

Thai government officials contacted by Thai Enquirer deny that their department hired Mercury LLC to defend the government. The head of Thailand’s Public Relations Department Sansern Kaewkamnerd told Thai Enquirer that he would not spend government funds on such pursuits.

Prime Minister Office Deputy Spokeswoman Rachada Thanadirek told Thai Enquirer that the PMO did not hire the firm but even if they did “no one would admit to doing so.”

“They are not the only foreigners praising our response to the outbreak,” she said.

It remains to be seen who hired the expensive public relations firm.

If it was the government, questions must be asked why they were spending money on a PR firm at a time when the economy was contracting and the government was trying to fund its bailout and assistance packages.

Calls to Mercury LLC were unanswered.

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