Less than two days after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s national address calling for the country’s reopening within 120 days, members of his government backtracked on the exact date of the reopening.
Deputy prime minister and energy minister, Supattanapong Punmeechaow, stated that the start date of the reopening was 120 days from July 1.
Other ministers have said that 120 days was just a guideline and that the reopening would happen some time in October.
This means that no one exactly knows when the country will reopen.
And that, is part of the problem of this government which has muddled through its Covid-19 response since the start of this year.
The constant infighting, the mixed messaging from different ministries and government organs has contributed to a lack of trust from the public towards government officials and directives. What’s worse is the lack of clear messaging has also caused chaos within the public bureaucracy with civil servants unsure who exactly to listen to.
In this specific case, one can be skeptical and disagree with the set date of reopening, as have doctors have express their concerns (Read more here). But coming out and stating that the 120-day time frame will be extended to 135 shows miscommunication in the government.
Clear communication allows not only businesses to replan their opening but for people to plan travel and their daily lives. It is not a simple mistake but a malicious one caused by ineptitude.
The prime minister must do more to ensure that there is uniformity within his government and the messaging is consistent. It has been a mess for much too long.