Thailand’s problems with gambling dens and drug use can only be resolved if everyone works together, Prime Minister Chan-ocha said on Wednesday.
“No one can do this all by themselves, even a hundred prime ministers will not be able to do it if everyone does not work together,” he said.
“No matter how brilliant they are, a person cannot do this alone. I am not admitting that I am the best but I have the honest intention to resolve everything and all of this will require a cooperation from all sectors.”
The PM also said that he doesn’t blame any shortcomings by authorities or previous administrations because if the blame game start, there will be no cooperation and nothing will get fixed.
His comments came after gambling dens in Rayong, Chonburi and Chanthaburi were found to have contributed to the second wave of the widespread coronavirus outbreak in the country, which began in mid-December.
Health officials said private gambling events can contribute to the spread of the virus because people tend to drink, smoke and yell at the indoor events, and wear no masks.
The PM has set up a committee to oversee the purge of illegal gambling dens across the country, while legal cockfighting, bullfighting, fish fighting, boxing and horse racing venues are temporarily closed in the 28 provinces that are highly controlled.
Prayut said he does not understand why people are still looking for places to gamble. “I do not understand what kind of work do they do or is it their job is to gamble?” he said.
Gambling is illegal in Thailand but widespread, especially illegal gambling on football leagues, and informal betting on the sidelines of those legal sporting venues now temporarily closed.
The PM said the root of the problem must be addressed, namely how to make Thai people gamble less. Advocates have said gambling should be made legal in Thailand as it is already common and regulating it could bring money into the government’s coffer.
Prayut also said he does not understand why some people are using the new drug cocktail known as Yah K-Nom Phong (ยาเคนมผง), or “K-Powdered Milk”, which was been linked to six deaths in the capital over the weekend.
“I do not understand why they are taking it and why do they have to take it which is the problem. This is why I said it is all started with the needs of the people,” he said.
“The government and related agencies have the duty to make arrests but everyone has the duty to keep their family healthy,” he added.
The PM said the police, the Department of Special Investigation and the Office of Public Sector Anti‑Corruption Commission are working together to solve the gambling and drug problems but the most important thing is for the people to have less demand for them.
Critics have said the country’s gambling dens and drug rackets are run by corrupt police, soldiers and politicians, and have blamed the previous junta government and current government, which has been led by Prayut for the past six years, for failing to arrest them.
The PM said Wednesday that the authorities have been concentrating on finding the sources of these illegal activities and substances by tracing their financials.
He said this has led to the seizure of various assets, and that more results of the government’s efforts would present themselves over the coming years.