Opinion: The ex-pats in Koh Phangan have overstayed their welcome

This past week, over 80 foreign ex-pats and/or tourists were arrested on Koh Phangan for partying into the night in clear violation of the emergency decree designed to keep the reemergence of coronavirus in check.

Many feigned that they had no knowledge of the emergency decree while others blamed the Thai bar owner for keeping his establishment open.

Let me be the first to say that this rich vein of irresponsibility is not limited to foreigners, just take a look at the case of DJ Matoom, the case seems to have struck a nerve. Normally, violating the emergency decree is not a major headline for foreigners or locals, but in this case the lack of contrition on the part of the expats have many fuming at their nonchalance and privilege.

Take for example this lady:

or videos being shared of these people continuing to “party in jail” after having been arrested. (View here)

It boggles the mind that many of the ex-pats would claim that they were unaware of the rules because “they were all in Thai” or that they simply didn’t understand the emergency decree fully. There are many English language publications that regularly publishes the rules and what is acceptable and unacceptable conduct including this one.

The argument makes even less sense if the situation were reversed. If a Thai person traveled to the United Kingdom and broke the quarantine to party and then claim they simply “didn’t speak any English,” they would probably be deported.

But for many foreigners here, just like privileged Thais partying and spreading the virus, they just simply think that the rules don’t apply to them. Expats in Phangan have questioned mask wearing, gleefully congregated in groups and bragged about it, and have spread conspiracy theories about the relationship between 5G and the coronavirus pandemic.

Thailand has recently ranked fourth in the world for its response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Read more here) Much of that is due to the hard work that healthcare professionals and volunteers have done in getting the public to cooperate to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For foreigners, many of whom hail from countries where the response to the pandemic have been abysmal, to travel to Thailand or to continue to live here and flagrantly violate the norms put in place to ensure all our safety means that they have overstayed their welcome.

Many ex-pats and tourists who have followed the rules have often remarked to me how lucky it is to stay in Thailand for the past year as the pandemic ravages the world. For those that find themselves unable to chip in and take personal responsibility, perhaps it is best if you leave.


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