When I heard the news about two imported coronavirus cases from overseas, I thought of people who sacrificed everything by cooperating with the government in their fight against the pandemic.
The 40 days of zero transmission in the country has been fought for by people — including students who have to wear uncomfortable masks and face shields to school as a new normal, teachers who had to adapt their teaching approach with online learning, laborers who tirelessly work every day to earn their living, hotel owners who just reopened their hotels despite very few tourists, university graduates who are facing unemployment and everyone who suffers from financial struggles — who have been told “not to let their guard down.”
Ironically, those who kept telling people “not to let their guard down” became the ones who let down the entire country
We were told we couldn’t repatriate everyone at once, that travel restrictions meant that Thai nationals arriving from foreign countries must enter 14-day mandatory state quarantine at government facility or at any alternative facility and space was limited. Families were torn apart, students and citizens were left stranded. But we complied and we followed orders because we wanted to protect each other.
However, these two imported cases, including an Egyptian military officer and a Sudanese girl, were exempted from the mandatory quarantine because of their diplomatic privileges.
Our sacrifice seems to have been made in vain.
People both in Bangkok and Rayong panicked as the government did not reveal where those two people visited until after they faced a backlash from netizens.
All public and private schools in Rayong have closed despite only two weeks of reopening. The hotel and the mall that the Egyptian soldier went to had to be temporarily closed. Ninety percent of all hotel bookings in Rayong were cancelled. Rayong governor was removed despite his lack of involvement.
Over 1,700 people who were considered as a “high risk” group must self isolate and test for the virus.
And what is worse is that if more people get infected, it could possibly lead to another lockdown, which will give the government full right to extend the state of emergency act, which gives the government too much power.
Another lockdown means laborers will suffer more, students will suffer more, teachers will suffer more, business owners will suffer more. Every sector of society will suffer for the governments incompetence and lack of foresight.
I do not blame the Egyptian soldiers and the Sudanese girl, I blame the government for being careless, having double standards and not being able to enforce the rules they authored.
Why do the people have to be responsible for the government’s actions? Why do the people have to continue cooperating when the government never stood with them?
Even though the prime minister took the blame and apologized, his apology came after massive online criticism and after many government organizations passed the blame to each other.
I am really hopeless. I do not trust this government to handle this pandemic anymore. I want to see those officials hold themselves accountable by resigning. However, that is very unlikely to happen so I can only hope that they will take this incident as a lesson and make their rules stricter without any double standard, even with official state guests.
If the government keeps telling people “not to let their guard down,” the government and its guests have to do it as well.
People should not be suffering from their government’s actions.
Chatwan Mongkol is a freelance journalist whose works have appeared in publications both in the United States and Thailand. He is currently a journalism student at Quinnipiac University in the US.