Opinion: India vaccines revelation means the government must be scrutinized

As more revelations continue to be made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are beginning to realize how badly the government of 2014 coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha is running the country and especially our vaccine program.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accepted, after revelations made by Thai Enquirer, that the country received an offer of assistance from India and that they had relayed the information to the relevant agencies.

In fact, the MFA had received an offer as early as December 2020 and once again on January 23. They said that the Thai side had expressed interest to procure the vaccines being offered but nothing has yet materialized.

If we had accepted the offer, Thailand would have received the millions of doses from India by now and inoculation would have started similar to those being undertaken in Myanmar.

The statement by Thailand that we were interested in the offer also draws in many questions, because according to the article by Thai Enquirer, the Indian ambassador clearly states that as of January 25 (read more here), the Thai side had not expressed any willingness to take the matters further.

“….many countries across the world, including many in Southeast Asia, have opted to purchase our vaccines. Thailand is also welcome to do so and the Indian Embassy would be happy to facilitate it.”

The fact that the ambassador said that ‘Thailand is welcome to do so and that the Indian Embassy would be happy to facilitate it’ is in a way an admission that nothing from the Thai side was forthcoming.

Discrepancies in Statements

If the two statements of Tanee Sangrat, the Director-General of the Department of Information, to Thai Enquirer were scrutinized, one would see that they contradict each other.

In the first statement, he says that the offer was made, and the information was passed on to the relevant authorities. While the 2nd statement says that the offer was made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs again on January 23.

The fact is, if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pushes the issue to some other agencies, the Indians would then deal with that agency not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Also, the January 23 date is highly suspect. Why are government officials on both sides meeting on a Saturday?

Miscalculations

One has to ask whether geopolitical considerations have played a role in our acquisition of vaccines.

Thailand relies so heavily on China for everything these days that there seems little consideration in doing business with anyone else, including India. The only people that will suffer as a consequence will be the people.

The idea that we’re trying to secure vaccines from Italy is also utter nonsense. The EU is currently suffering from a massive shortage – with a row between AstraZeneca and Brussells frontpage news around the world. Anything coming from Italy is months away.

So the thought that we rejected millions of ready vaccine is troubling and something that needs to be addressed by this government.

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