Thai PM appeals to protesters to join the fight against COVID-19 first
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made a last-minute appeal this evening to protest leaders to postpone their rally, planned for this weekend, until the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
Addressing the Thai public in national broadcast, the Prime Minister said that the world is facing a second wave of COVID-19, citing Spain, where about 30,000 people have died and more than 12,000 new cases are recorded each day, France, where over 10,000 cases are recorded daily and where the death toll has exceeded 30,000, the UK, where more than 42,000 people have died, and India, where about 90,000 new infections were recorded in one day.
In Thailand, fewer than 10 new cases are being recorded each day, he said, as he praised the tireless and dedicated medical personnel and public health volunteers for working on the frontline to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
Warning that COVID-19 is re-emerging and that the fight against the disease will continue for a long time, he asked the Thai people not to lower their guard and be more cautious and more disciplined.
Regarding this weekend’s protest, the Prime Minister said the gathering of many people in one place will greatly increase the risk of a new round of infections which, he said, will affect many others who do not join the protest.
He also said that not allowing foreign tourists into Thailand has caused severe pain but, at least, food shops, stores, schools, factories and offices have remained open and domestic tourism is still alive.
“I would like to tell every protester, loud and clear, that I have heard what you have said. I acknowledge your political grievances and your dissatisfaction with the Constitution. I respect your opinions and your feelings,” said the Prime Minister, adding “but, today, Thailand is facing intense pain, which needs to be addressed as priority and we should not do anything to worsen the situation.”
The Prime Minister said that the protest will slow down economic recovery, undermine the confidence of foreign investors, lead foreign tourists to delay visiting Thailand and discourage people involved in dealing with the virus and in addressing bread and butter issues.
He made clear, however, that he does not want to see violence during the protest, but hopes that those taking part are aware of the potential consequences of their actions.