11 July 2024

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha has refuted the Opposition’s claim that his government should be held accountable for all the COVID-19 deaths, as a result of its failures in managing the pandemic, but has vowed to navigate the country through the crises and to rebuild the economy during the last four months of this year.

In his final statement, before the end of the four-day censure debate Friday, the prime minister told parliament that it is unfair to be accused of “trading in the deaths” of people.

He told the opposition to acknowledge the vast number of people recovering from the contagion, claiming that the recoveries are accounting for 85% of those infected, thanks to everyone’s cooperation in the joint efforts to contain the disease.

He, nevertheless, thanked opposition MPs for the criticisms made during the debate and promised to consider their recommendations.

He vowed to work with all stakeholders and to do his best to move Thailand forward into a better future, adding that the government will, for the rest of the year, try to continue stimulating the struggling economy with populist packages such as the 50:50 co-payment scheme and the state welfare cards.

The prime minister also took the opportunity to announce the government’s six-point strategy, aimed at driving the country forward, economically, environmentally and socially.

He said the government will continue to invest in infrastructure development projects, such as road building, airport and rail projects and development of the eastern economic corridor project.

The government will push for 30% electric vehicle use by the year 2030, 50% alternative energy production and increased forestation.

Development of future industries, development and support of SMEs and reforms of state agencies are also on the government’s drawing board for implementation, he said.

In his closing statement, opposition chief whip Suthin Klangsaeng insisted that the government had failed miserably in the fight against the COVID pandemic and that the accusation that the government was “trading in death” was not an overstatement.

“Everyone is afraid of death. Therefore, anyone who causes the death of other people through their mismanagement should be regarded as complete failure,” said Suthin.

He also said he was not surprised when the prime minister claimed that the COVID infection rate in Thailand is lower than in the UK, because Britain screened about 700,000 people a day, compared to only 40,000 people a day in Thailand, or just 6% of the number.