By Nathapol Khantahiran/Doha
The outbreak of Covid-19 has made the year 2020 a great challenge for us all. At present, the world is learning the hard way that health is indeed the utmost wealth, and that the interconnected global community must prioritise human security, food security and health security as fundamental keys for sustainable growth.
Throughout this unprecedented test, Thailand has witnessed Qatar’s high resilience and fast adaptation in its healthcare system, along with timely effort in containing the spread of the pandemic. Such efficiency has allowed Qatar to maintain its Covid-19 fatality rate among the lowest worldwide, enabling the country to extend its humanitarian assistance to countries in need despite transportation obstacles and, most significantly, ensure the universal public healthcare coverage that exclude none, under the dynamic leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
In tandem with the public health measures, Qatar has also excelled at economic relief measures and made significant reforms on labour. These factors have helped Qatar tide over the impact felt in all sectors and, most admirably with regard to the welfare and protection of migrant workers. This includes the Thai community of around 2,000 residing in multicultural Qatar.
The Fifth of December of every year is the day all Thais, regardless of where they are, hold dear to their hearts. For many decades, Thailand has celebrated this day, first, as the Birthday Anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, the longest-reigning monarch in Thailand and the father of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, second, as the National Day, and, third, as the Father’s Day. Thus, the Royal Thai Embassy in Doha wishes to take this auspicious opportunity to express our gratitude to His Highness the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Father Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, other members of the Royal Family, the Government of the State of Qatar, and all sectors in Qatar for the unwavering support, assistance, friendship, and hospitality extended to Thailand and its peoples, especially during this year of uncertainties.
Effective and timely healthcare management, along with the aspiration in achieving healthcare excellence are what, Thailand believes, our two friendly nations have in common. Thailand has become one of the first countries to conduct the Joint Intra-Action Review (IAR) through the collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) of Thailand and the World Health Organization on how the nation’s health system has so far responded to Covid-19. Thailand’s medical and public health system were proven strong, well-resourced and inclusive. This includes early and effective management of patients in hospitals, and a strong capacity to trace and quarantine contacts using Rapid Response Teams and Village Health Volunteers and, most importantly, public co-operation.
Successful pandemic management and skilled healthcare resources have allowed Thailand to cope with shocks and maintain its reasonable capacity. This has enabled our healthcare sector to continue to save lives of both domestic non-coronavirus-related patients as well as patients seeking assistance from abroad, including those travelling from Qatar. Medical evacuation co-operation was made possible through solid foundation on our healthcare co-operation.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations on August 7, 1980, Thailand and Qatar have enjoyed amicable relations, and multi-faceted co-operation for four decades. Despite difficulties caused by Covid-19, people-to-people exchange has been ongoing, mainly on travel for medical treatment and wellness tourism, reflecting the realistic advancement in our two countries’ relations.
Moreover, Qatar Airways continues its direct flights between Thailand and Qatar twice a day and is planning to increase its flight services in the coming months, which we hope to create greater people-to-people bonds. Thailand is exceptionally pleased that our 40th year of diplomatic relations marked a significant point in our history, in which the Covid-19 acted as a testimony for the two friendly countries to further our co-operation.
In the circumstances where countries faced difficulties of economic downturn caused by the pandemic, any country has to bring out its best practices and strong points for its survival. Thailand is no exception. We have implemented economic and sustainable development, considered as both means and goals in order to relieve the people from poverty, and to elevate their welfare. The Fifth of December of every year also marks the “World Soil Day”, which has been declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, in order to promote and raise awareness of soil as an entity towards agriculture development, nutrition and food security.
Soil rehabilitation and conservation is part of an approach known as “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy” or SEP, courtesy of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, which emphasises the need to strengthen community’s capacity to ensure a balanced way of life and human resilience.
Sufficiency Economy has therefore, been the core concept and philosophy behind Thailand’s economy. Even with an agricultural-based society, Thailand also develops more, with the focus on the development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) located in Eastern provinces, which is the Free Trade Zones with one-stop service investment centre, special incentives, and supportive investment law and regulations. The EEC is also one of Asean’s hubs for maritime transportation and a manufacturing base offering attractive options for foreign investors. With its geographic and strategic location, EEC is considered a hub for regional transportation and logistics as well as gateway to South China and Mainland Southeast Asia.
Thailand is happy to see that Qatar has continued to develop self-sufficiency economy as well, as part of the country’s strategy for the next decades. Therefore, there is no doubt that Thailand and Qatar share common strategies towards the same goals for their people’s well-being and prosperity.
As this year marks the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Thailand and Qatar, Thailand wishes Qatar all success for a fulfilling future. While our relations continue to flourish, Thailand always supports Qatar in achieving the country’s National Vision and hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022. On the occasion of the National Day of Thailand, the Royal Thai Embassy, on behalf of all Thai citizens in Qatar, wishes to extend our warm greetings and very best wishes to His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, and His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Father Amir of the State of Qatar, the Government and the people of the State of Qatar for the great success, prosperity, and happiness coinciding with Qatar’s National Day on December 18.
The writer is ambassador of Thailand to Qatar.
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