I might be blinded but now I’m stronger than ever, I see things clearer than ever. People knew a long time ago how incompetent this government is. Covid is just more evidence and proof. — Tanat Thanakitamnuay, the scion of a real estate family
I might be blinded but now I’m stronger than ever, I see things clearer than ever. People knew a long time ago how incompetent this government is. Covid is just more evidence and proof. — Tanat Thanakitamnuay, the scion of a real estate family
Thailand Covid Failures Spur Angry New Protests
In air heavy with monsoonal pressure and discontent, the riot police in Bangkok unleashed rubber bullets and tear gas. Tanat Thanakitamnuay, the scion of a real estate family, stood on a truck, where he had been excoriating Thailand’s leaders for their bungled response to the pandemic.

Then a hard object, perhaps a tear gas canister, struck his right eye, tearing his retina. Mr. Tanat, who once supported the 2014 coup that brought Prayuth Chan-ocha, now the prime minister, to power, says the injury on Aug. 13 cost him his vision in the eye.

“I might be blinded but now I’m stronger than ever, I see things clearer than ever,” he said. “People knew a long time ago how incompetent this government is. Covid is just more evidence and proof.”

Thailand, which not long ago was seen as a virus-containing wonder, has become yet another example of how authoritarian hubris and a lack of government accountability have fueled the pandemic. This year, more than 12,000 people in Thailand have died of Covid-19, compared to fewer than 100 last year. The economy has been ravaged, with tourism all but nonexistent and manufacturing slowed.


Anger is spreading, and not only in the streets. Opposition lawmakers in Parliament tried to pass a vote of no confidence in Mr. Prayuth, accusing his government of squandering the monthslong head start Thailand had to fight the coronavirus. That effort failed on Saturday, even though some members of the prime minister’s coalition had briefly fanned speculation that they might support his ouster.

This summer’s vaccine rollout, already late, was further hampered by manufacturing delays. A company with no experience making vaccines, whose dominant shareholder is Thailand’s king, was given the contract to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine domestically. The government’s failure to secure adequate imported supplies has made matters worse. Only about 15 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and social inequalities have let the young rich leapfrog ahead of older, poorer people.

Antigovernment protests, which now occur daily, are growing more desperate, and security crackdowns more aggressive. In August, at least 10 demonstrations were broken up with force. At one, a 15-year-old boy was shot and is now in intensive care. The police have denied firing live ammunition.

“Earlier, people said they were not coming out to protest because of Covid, but now the thinking has changed to, ‘You stay at home and you will die anyway because of the government’s inability to take care of people,’” said Tosaporn Sererak, a doctor who was once a spokesman for the government unseated by the 2014 coup.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/05/world/asia/thailand-protesters-covid.html