Prominent Thai Businessman raises concerns to Health Minister’s proposal to charge people for Covid-19 treatment if caught illegally gambling or gathering

Thailand-

A prominent Thai businessman and executive have raised concerns which many others have echoed on social media this afternoon regarding a proposal by the Deputy Prime Minister and Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

  You can read the proposal that we originally posted this morning here.

Anutin had proposed, essentially, that people who test positive for Covid-19 who broke Covid-19 regulations and measures, as well as laws such as holding illegal gambling events or illegal house parties/gatherings, should not get free health care and should instead be charged in full for their Covid-19 testing and treatment as punishment for breaking the law.

The proposal, which Anutin says he will discuss later this week with relevant agencies, got mixed reviews online with many supporting the idea but also many opposed. In Thailand, Thai nationals currently get free treatment and health care for Covid-19 as do migrant workers who have tested positive. The proposal would essentially end this for those caught breaking laws or the Emergency Decree which has various rules against gatherings and social events.

Banyong Pongpanichti, a prominent Thai businessman and Chairman of the Board at Phatra Securities PLC and the Chairman of the Executive Board of Kiatnakin Bank PLC, posted his opposition to the idea on his social media accounts this afternoon.

Banyong said the major problem with this idea was that, in his opinion, it would cause people to avoid contact tracers and getting a Covid-19 test for fear of being charged not only with a potential legal issue but also financial charges that they could not possibly easily pay.  Banyong stated that he believed this could make the Covid-19 problem worse as asymptomatic people would purposely go underground and hide from authorities to avoid possibly being forced to take a test. Banyong also believes that people would not reveal their true timelines to contact tracers and would lie more often if they knew they were facing large financial charges for telling the truth.

Banyong also said that if this proposal became real people would not use any check-in or tracing platform for fear of potential legal and financial charges.

Banyong stressed that he hopes that Anutin and relevant agencies think hard and long about the potential problems this proposal could cause and that they decide not to move forward with it at this time.

Photo: The Bangkok Insight

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