A NOTE FROM THIS SUBSCRIBER
The Economist (11 July 2020), attempted to figure out the reason why Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam had surprisingly succeeded in fighting off the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of infected cases and fatality rates have been extraordinarily low in these countries. It could have been because of degrees of authoritarianism in their systems of government which may have effectively helped push the population in the direction desired to contain the virus. Or it could have also been the Buddhist way of life which helps contribute to a healthier lifestyle, together with more open-space living in rural communities. Only small number of people in Thailand live in flats or apartments where they would be cooped up between four walls.
The Economist, however, did not have much to say about the Buddhist factor other than giving it an enticing headline and a mentioning of a Thai word 'Wai', a Thai (as well as Hindu) greeting with two enclosed palms, thus avoiding the western-style physical handshake. (It could not be called ‘Wai-five’ as suggested by The Economist since it uses two hands - ten fingers. A ‘Wai-ten’ will not be fashionable either. A plain ‘Wai’ would be just fine, thank you!)
The focus is more on various governments' effective measures and the population's willingness to comply with government directives. Their proximities to China, in terms of physical borders and flow of tourists, somehow keep the countries well informed and better prepared. As for Thailand, in spite of a 'sham democracy overseen by generals', The Economist attributes Thailand's success to 'the quality of its health care' that 'makes Thailand a popular destination for medical tourism', and that the Thai 'government was quick to set up a vigorous covid-fighting task-force'.
It's nice to hear good news about Thailand from The Economist once in a while. I'm sure those generals will be happy to allow the circulation of this current issue of The Economist in their 'sham democracy'.
By the way, The Economist Intelligence Unit categorizes Thailand in 2019 as a 'flawed democracy'. Now in 2020 it probably is downgraded to a 'flawed democracy in shamble'.
It's OK with me, as long as I get my weekly printed copy of The Economist on time!
12 July 2020
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▶️ THE ECONOMIST
"Opinions without knowledge and understanding are shameful and ugly" (Socrates)