Opinion: Corporations have chosen to remain open, it will cost lives and suffering.

Over the last two weeks, Thai companies have been questioned over Covid-19 outbreaks in their workplace. 

Construction firms have seen a spike in the number of cases in construction sites while factories have been closed due to outbreaks. 

The biggest names in Thai industry have been implicated including Sino-Thai Constructions, Italian-Thai Development, and now Charoen Pokphand. 

On Sunday, CP Foods announced the closure of one of its factories in Saraburi after 245 people tested positive for the virus. 

Their other 18 factories will remain open. 

It is interesting to note that even at the height of the Covid-19 crisis, firms like Sino-Thai and CP kept their factories and sites open to keep the bottom line as unaffected and their shareholders as happy as possible. 

Even when there are real human costs. 

The Covid-19 pandemic currently has a mortality rate of around 2 per cent. That number is less in Thailand but that is a testament to the fine doctors and nurses in our public health services. 

But the fact remains, people will die. 

Thousands have now been infected because these factories have stayed open, because best practices in keeping the workplaces safe have not been introduced, and because of corporate greed. 

Choosing to remain open, to keep building, keep processing, and keep working will cost people their lives. People have died, are dying, and will keep dying because these CEOs and business leaders that we venerate in the back pages of Thailand Tatler have chosen to value the bottom line more than human lives. 

It should not be surprising for longtime observers of Thailand that his is happening. This is a country where corporations rule supreme. Above politics, above government, above the rule of law, corporations operate on another plain in Thai society. 

But unlike other abuses in the past, both human and environmental – the effects of corporate greed have been laid bare for all to see during the coronavirus pandemic. The human costs aren’t hidden away in the margins of court rulings and knock-on environmental effects that manifest themselves decades later. 

So far, these corporations have not said whether or not they would support the families of workers who died through their negligence. 

Chances are they won’t. 

They do not feel a sense of obligation or humanity like most corporations around the world. They are also not motivated by shame, the one thing that could spur them to act. The losses we are seeing are a cost they can write off and keep going because there is no outrage from the Thai public. 

And who can blame the public, Thais have seen and experienced worse abuses by those that have power. 

But that should not be the status quo. 

It is time that we hold these corporations and their leaders to account, is time to be outraged, to be angry, and to question why things are the way they are. Remember that these organizations act with impunity, so unafraid are they of governmental consequences. Remember also that they are the same organizations that prop up the government and leaders that have exacerbated our suffering. 

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