On April 8th, as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was about to enter a van, he gave some brief remarks to the press. The coronavirus had returned to Thailand with a vengeance, after a cluster of cases found in Thonglor’s entertainment centers, and cases were threatening to spike right before the Songkran break.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he told the assembled reporters.
It was a striking statement.
He had opted not to exhort the people to join together and defeat a new, virulent surge, nor had he promised the government would get the situation under control. Whatever happens, happens — these are the words of a man seemingly resigned to, at best, a certain nonchalance about the immediate future.
That the prime minister is exhausted by his duties is unsurprising. I probably am not alone in noticing how he has visibly aged in his seven years in office, and the past year of troubles would have only been an accelerant in that process. And it appears that his increasingly weary complexion also reflects an increasingly weary body politic — one that is being asked, once again, to gear up for a fight, but one for which it is finding it difficult to summon the energy.