Thailand’s tourist industry has long profited from inhumane and exploitative techniques in handling elephants. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed new pressures on human-elephant relationships. The elephant tourist industry is on the brink of collapse and wild elephant habitats are coming into closer contact with humans than before. How can Thailand better protect its elephants while bringing attention to elephant welfare with advocacy? Guest contributor Mark S. Cogan looks into the issue.
“I’m afraid of COVID-19, but I’m more afraid of starving.” These words from an Isaan sex worker who decided to keep working at Surat Thani’s Samui Island despite high infection rates. Although aware of the risk, as household breadwinners they have been left no choice but to accept the risk. Guest contributor Min Thalufa reports from Samui Island about the struggle of Isaan women in the era of COVID-19.
There has always been a distressing gap in the quality of education in Thailand. But the COVID-19 epidemic has exposed and exacerbated the digital gap in the country. In this latest piece, Mark S. Cogan highlights how the digital gap is leaving the most vulnerable behind and recommends that Bangkok make a real commitment to building a modern education infrastructure.
Vaccination efforts in Thailand have recently shifted from Bangkok to the provinces. But all is not equal between provinces. At the start of the third wave, Bangkok justified taking most doses because it had more cases. But in the Northeast, Surin has faced a major outbreak but it receives a fraction of the vaccinations its neighbor Buriram receives. Mark S. Cogan examines how unclear criteria has perpetuated inequality and deprives those who need and deserve a vaccination.
As daily deaths reach 300, Thailand’s government has continued the struggle to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It has been unclear with messaging and accused of using Covid restrictions to silence critics. What’s made matters worse is instances where those testing positive suffer stigmatization. Mark S. Cogan looks at the social costs of stigmatization and how the government could do better to limit it.
It seemed that Thailand had avoided the brunt of te Covid-19 epidemic and was praised by international bodies. The government crowed its success and laid out schemes to bring tourists back to safe Thailand. Then the virus caught up with the country in April. The government chose a strategy that favored Bangkok and tourist destinations and deprived millions in the provinces from vaccination.