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Should Thailand Take a Look at Singapore's Evolving Thinking on COVID?

Transcript of the above video:

I want to go ahead and preface this video, I didn't really ever intend for a lot of for lack of a better term, op-ed or opinion pieces regarding policy on lockdowns, masks and things and COVID generally to really seep into discussions, things that I post onto this channel. That really was never my intention especially when this started. Now as 15 months has dragged on and I have definitely seen the situation go from good to better to worse to way worse to just not particularly good, and I mean this more from an economic standpoint rather than looking at tracking the virus or anything like this. Obviously I have made videos on here regarding just more generalized topics. It is not my intention, this is probably going to be the last video I do on these more general discussions of the overall situation because frankly the purpose of this channel is to discuss legal issues. Now it has seeped into the discussion because this COVID policy has such a broad impact on well the law and the rules and just everything right now, Immigration law as well as laws regarding even being able to open one’s business, so I haven't felt too bad about it happening but I do like to keep things a little bit more compartmentalized than this. So, I am curious to know, I am thinking about firing up another channel where I discuss more these opinion pieces on a more regular basis or let me just say maybe that channel would be exclusively dedicated to that and we will just leave that over there. I would be curious to hear in the comments or to hear any feedback from folks if they would be interested in that because I think moving forward after this video, because this video is probably going to sum up where I stand or what I think on this and what I think will probably happen moving forward. I do think over the course of the rest of the summer, we are going to have a lot of developments that are going to be more strictly legal so I don't even really think it is particularly necessary for me to discuss things more generally in a more opinion based sense but I am curious for folks' feedback. If folks would be interested in that I can do that although me personally, I wouldn't want to hear me pontificate endlessly on what my opinions are. It wouldn't just be an opinion channel but maybe we do things on another channel that were less of a legalistic bent and that is the purpose of this channel. It is to discuss legal issues not really to discuss opinion, albeit I have had no problem with that because COVID policy has just been so all encompassing. Leaving that aside, we will get to the nuts and bolts of this video but I am curious for folks’ feedback and if people really don't want to hear me pontificating further I am happy to hear that too and I can discontinue that. 

The reason for this video is I got some interesting feedback to say the least after one of the last opinion pieces we did regarding this alcohol ban and just the, I don't know what the right word is, but the imperious proclamations regarding why an alcohol ban cannot be rescinded right now; from watching that video I am sure most people can tell I am a little bit passionate about that issue. The purpose of this video is I am not trying to be critical of the Government or what they are doing. I can't necessarily say I would do much better, that is not my purpose in making these videos. My purpose is maybe sometimes when there is a gadfly out there it allows people to maybe see things from a different angle and perhaps shape their position and maybe cause them to see things in such a way that they can make better decisions perhaps. 

In a recent article from the South China Morning Post that is there was this article titled: Singapore Preparing to Live with Endemic COVID-19 as Residents grow "Battle Weary" of Pandemic, Ministers Say. Now let me be clear, I don't like comparing one country's policy to another country's policy on much of anything so I am rather loathe to do that just in a general sense. What is good for Singapore may not necessarily be good for Thailand. That said, this brought up something rather interesting, this notion of starting to treat this as endemic rather than discussing this whole thing in this pandemic containment verbiage. Just one thing to note just off the top here where they say "battle weary" I am also tired of all of this discussion of COVID-19 being couched in this wartime phraseology as if we are getting out there and battling some foe. I mean it is a disease. It is what it is, it is a pandemic and this warrior prose is just strange to me but okay, that's just one man's opinion. But back to this notion, again the difference between treating something as endemic versus this pandemic thinking and it is my overarching thesis in my mind about COVID generally which is "the horse has already bolted the barn and we are closing the door", "the cat is out of the bag". When this hit community spread to my mind all of these methodologies that are out there, lockdown, masking and things, it all seems to be predicated on the notion that this can be contained and that by containing it can effectively be eradicated because it can be contained and then it won't get out any further and then it is gone. There was a point in time, I would argue that point in time was geographically located in China, but there was a point in time where yes protocols presumably could have been put in place to contain this into a certain geographic area and then deal with it there and put it to rest if you will. Well that time has come and gone. I think one of the big things where a lot of people, lay people even policy makers have, it has been sort of almost a strange kind of paradoxical thinking where folks are basically operating as if this again can be contained and eradicated. As we will get to in some of the excerpts here, these folks down in Singapore don't seem to think that and I don't think it is too far off to say that that probably isn't really the case in the circumstances of presently. 

Now we will put this article real quick on screen so folks can see it and I am going to go ahead and quote directly: "The three ministers who co-head the Government's Coronavirus task force said in an op-ed they were sketching out a plan to treat COVID-19 as endemic. Quoting further: "Singapore is drawing up a blueprint for COVID-19 becoming endemic, a shift away from monitoring daily cases and a return of mass gatherings like the country’s annual National Day parade officials said on Thursday. Their comments follow recent intimations by other Government's including neighboring Malaysia that a different approach to deal with the pandemic may be required as it becomes increasingly apparent that there is no credible route to eliminating COVID-19 from the world." Yeah, I know there are a lot of people that don't like to hear that but the fact is this notion that we are in this "war of attrition" and we are going to kill every COVID virus out there, I just don't see that and as noted in this article, I don't really see that is feasible at this point, at this stage of the game. As I said earlier to use that metaphor, "the horse has bolted from the barn!" The time to get that done has I think come and gone; I think it is starting to become increasingly clear that that is the case. For that reason, maybe policy thinking should evolve to come more into line with that fact. Quoting further: "Singapore is in the midst of scaling back restrictions on public gatherings put in place in May following a surge in cases." Quoting further: "All are asking when and how will the pandemic end, Ministers Gam Kim Yong, Ong Ye Kung and Lawrence Wong wrote in their opinion piece. The bad news is that COVID-19 may never go away. The good news is that it is possible to live normally with it in our midst. This means COVID-19 will very likely become endemic. Like influenza, COVID-19 will continue to mutate and survive in the community though the majority of those who contract it will recover without needing to be hospitalized and with little or no medication the Ministers said. We will work towards a similar outcome for COVID-19. We can't eradicate it but we can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening like Influenza, Hand, Foot and Mouth disease or Chicken Pox and get on with our lives they said." Quoting further: "Authorities may also do away with massive contact tracing and quarantining each time an infection is detected. On monitoring cases, the Ministers said the focus would shift to outcomes, 'how many fall sick, how many are in the Intensive Care Unit, how many need to be intubated for oxygen and so on." So I mean long story short and again I urge those who are watching this video go read that article, there is a lot in there. I have just taken some of the more salient points as excerpts for this video. 

The reason I bring it up is again Thailand is not Singapore. I am not claiming that nor would I want it to be. I love Thailand the way it is, well I love Thailand the way it was in quarter one of 2020. It has been a different place throughout the roughly 15 months we have been dealing with this. I do think everybody has been operating in good faith trying to do their best efforts to get everybody through this but the reason I am bringing this up is it really is a good point to maybe stop thinking in terms of pandemic and start thinking in terms of endemic. That we are just going to have to live with this because a lot of these measures, and they are very over the top measures, compared to for lack better term and I hate using normal especially under current circumstances but compared to "normal" times, if we went back to the end of 2019 and somebody told anyone that these current measures that we are dealing with, lockdowns and things of this nature would be in place especially to the extent that they are, I think everybody would say that person was crazy and that is just not possible to see that happen but here we are but it is predicated on this notion that it is temporary in order to just get rid of the virus. Well as noted by these Ministers in their editorial and in this article in the South China Morning Post, that is probably not the best position to have presently. Where we are at 15 months on, it does not look necessarily possible to go ahead and eradicate that. Now by changing that paradigm that definitely goes ahead and changes the way that we think in terms of how to handle this and I think it can provide some insight to folks out there. Hopefully we can see a situation where look obviously the vaccines are rolling out. We have yet to see that fully come online and it is coming. I don't think that there is any other way to put it than that; that is an inevitability. Vaccinations are going to ramp up and that is going to have its own set of consequences, hopefully for the best. As that happens, hopefully we can look at this more as something to deal with that we have to move forward and get on with our lives in a more normal way rather than viewing it as something temporary that we have to take really extreme measures to deal with so that we can put it behind us. I think that it is probably a good time for us to really start rethinking those methodologies.