Opinion: There is a rot in Thai society

There is a rot in Thai society and this time it has nothing to do with the government.

Over the past week, despite the country seeing record infection rates and hundreds of deaths, Thais have flaunted social distancing guidelines and have chosen to act selfishly.

There was a massive birthday party in Wang Thonglang that was broken up by police. 37 out of the 57 people attending the party tested positive for drugs.

Gambling dens in the capital continue to operate as normal with several being exposed recently over the past fortnight.

And in Chiang Mai, cockfighting rings continue to operate despite a ban on gatherings of more than five people.

These are just some examples of a much greater problem. All of us know people who have flaunted the quarantine rules and social distancing requests made by the government to meet friends, have parties, or pursue some selfish agenda.

There is a Thai saying, you do not cry until you see the coffin, and it applies here.

It is not even a question of privilege like it was at the start of the pandemic when the upper crust of Thai society helped to spread the disease through irresponsible behavior.

Today, many of those flaunting quarantine rules come from working and middle class families. This begs the question whether there is a rot in Thai society as a whole?

Perhaps we have had it too easy. Thailand was never colonized, something we take great pride in, has never faced a major national crisis where we have to band together and find a cohesive national identity.

We, as a whole and compared to many of our neighbors, have never had to experience the great hardships that define and unite a nation.

We never had the blitz, the war, the invasion, the occupation, all those nouns that lead to slogans and sayings like “keep calm and carry on.”

We have been extremely fortunate as a nation-state since the start of the 20th century.

And in our good fortune we have grown complacent, lazy, and unwilling to do what is necessary when a crisis does emerge.

It is no longer a case of privilege but entitlement. Our relative lack of tribulations as a country and a society that reinforces corruption and cutting corners has led many of us to believe that the rules simply don’t apply to us.

But they should and they do, and our entitlement is costing lives and hurting our recovery.

It is the responsibility of us all to have the awkward conversations necessary with those who think that they are above rules to make them understand how fixing this problem is something only the greater public can do.

The solutions will obviously not come from the government, they have proven incapable of managing and making difficult decisions.

The burden has unfortunately been passed to us and so far we are failing.

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