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Newspeak, Thai Style: UnCurfews and NonLockdowns

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the notion of the non-lockdown. We have done videos on this contemporaneously with this one where we have talked about the Government has made it clear, it is sort of one of those "me thinks the lady doth protest too much", from the Shakespeare play, where the Government has come out and said: "This is not a lockdown" notwithstanding the fact that there are substantial restrictions being imposed on businesses and individuals, schools as well as other institutions here in Thailand, but they want to be clear it is not a lockdown.

I am not making this video and some of the videos that I made contemporaneously with it to criticize for criticism's sake. That is not the purpose of these videos. I have no doubt that everybody involved in the response to COVID-19, policy makers etc., are acting in good faith; they are trying their best, they are reacting to this is best they can.  At this point, my thesis on this whole thing would be, there is a certain point where a thing just is what it is. We are going to have to learn to live with it and getting over-reactionary and just shutting everything down every time the news does not go to the liking of policy makers, in my opinion that is not a very good way to do things, long story short. Also, I really don't think that folks, especially in a governmental capacity, fully appreciate the damage that some of these policies are doing and are having upon especially the SME environment here in Thailand. I do not say this lightly but coming off this most recent iteration of these restrictions or I should say going into the heavy apart of these restrictions in these coming days with an eye toward coming out of it, I don't say this lightly but this could decimate the SME economy, at least here in Bangkok. I have been to Pattaya recently Jomtien, Hua Hin, those places as well, I just don't think folks at a policy level are really appreciating just how substantial the impact that this has on businesses. Anybody that has ever set up a business, try to scale a business, open their own business, run their own business, maintain their own business can tell folks that have never done this before that it is tough, it is difficult. Moreover maintaining that business' operation can be a real precarious thing even at the best of times. Maintaining cash flow can be difficult so when restrictions are just imposed out of the blue and they are of a nature that they entirely truncate one's ability to really operate to the point of being totally impossible and then for the policy makers that implement those rules, to have the presumption that "oh after just a few weeks or a few months, that business can just pop back up out of the dust", that is not the way that things work. Just walking around in recent weeks, especially since this most recent set of restrictions has been brought online, I don't know how long it is going to take for some of these store fronts to get open back up. It is just hard to say. 

The purpose of this video though is, again going back to what I said at the beginning, the Government seems to have gone out of its way to say that this is not a lockdown and there are no curfews. Notwithstanding the fact that as a practical matter, there are substantial restrictions associated with this recent round of restrictions. In a recent article from Thai Visa, that is, and I think this article brings this into sharp focus, and I really want to tip the hat to those folks over there at Thai Visa. This is a really good article and I know that they are also commenting and translating from The Daily News which is all in Thai but I really thought that they again brought this into focus. The article is titled and this is, When is a Curfew not a Curfew? Business Chief Slams Latest COVID-19 Measures. Quoting directly: "Thailand's Government has been blustering for days that they will not announce a nationwide lockdown and curfew but Daily News reported that it is immaterial. They base their assessment, patently obvious to anyone who lives in Thailand, on comments from the Chief of the Federation of Thai Industries, Suphan Mongkhonsuthee. He said yesterday that the Government don't need to issue a lockdown or curfew order. The people are locked down and under curfew already." And as I said a moment ago, as a practical matter, you are seeing that. That is just the practical effect of these policies. Quoting further: "People are scared to go out far more than in other waves of the virus and with bars shut and malls and restaurants closing early, there is nothing for them to do at night anyway." Quoting further: "Whatever the Government says, it is hard to get away from one inescapable conclusion notes Thai Visa. Thailand is in a state of lockdown and under curfew at night in all but name." I think that is a pretty fair assessment. “We are under a "lockdown and curfew in all but name." It is like "yes you can go out and wander around the streets but everything is closed. There is nothing to do. There is nowhere to go and there is nothing to interact with." 

Again, this is not meant to point fingers or to impose negative criticism on anyone. That is not the purpose of this. I simply think at this point, we are a year on with this whole COVID response and I think people have a tendency to get boxed in in their thinking. People are people. This is what they do. They get blinders on with respect to their thinking and rather than reassess the situation, they can have a tendency to just keep doing the same thing over and over even if it doesn't really have any substantially positive impact. Meanwhile that said, those actions have consequences. I really can't stress this enough just from my own observation in very intimate ways with clients who are having real problems with their business as well as just observing businesses from the outside as a customer, as a potential customer or just as someone walking the streets of Bangkok and some other cities here in Thailand. This does have some substantial negative ramifications. Ramifications that might reverberate for years to come if we do not try at least to make some balanced policy decisions, keeping in mind the economic impact that these decisions have and at the same time, again trying to keep everybody as safe as possible while at the same time trying to understand that destroying the economy, I am not saying anyone is purposely doing it, but even inadvertently crippling the economy can have far worse ramifications than maybe the effects of COVID itself, could have far worse ramifications down the road and in the longer term.