I am writing to you regarding a Letter to the Editor from Kristen Rasmussen that was published in The Post on July 16 under the heading “Many residents of Cambodia stranded in Thailand amid Covid-19 need help”.

As we have carefully read what Rasmussen tried to communicate, we found a sense of insecurity and frustration that she and other stranded foreigners in Thailand might have trying to return to their home countries. However, there are some points that we feel the need to clarify so that The Post readers would have a better understanding of the situation and in order to avoid misleading information.

1. We are all in the same difficult situation. The measures that the Thai government put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19, including the border shutdown and restrictions on international travellers, are meant for the wellbeing of people who are residing in Thailand, both Thais and foreigners. Public health officials, village health volunteers, and people from all walks of life have been working extremely hard to help in this fight. The measures have proved to be relatively efficient, enabling Thailand to enter phase 5 of the relaxation of measures on July 1. The success of our attempts is based on a whole-of-society approach and the Thai government has never ignored the plight of either residents or non-residents in Thailand who have been affected by these measures.

2. Temporary stay for stranded foreigners in Thailand. Further measures, or relaxation of measures, will depend on the situation we encounter. The relevant Thai authorities continue to carefully review the impacts and necessities of existing measures regularly while trying to strike a balance between protecting people’s health and minimising the adverse effect on them, of which foreigners who might find themselves stranded in Thailand after the border shutdown are included.

3. Return to Cambodia by a direct flight from Thailand. Currently, chartered flights and outbound commercial flights are not prohibited. It is indeed up to the airlines to decide whether to operate given the demand of travellers between Thailand and Cambodia in the midst of the stringent immigration measures implemented by both countries to stem the spread of Covid-19. The Thai authorities cannot interfere in this business decision of the airlines.

We wish to extend our best wishes to Rasmussen and would like to let her know that we understand her situation as well as that of other foreigners stranded in Thailand. But by bringing the issue to the attention of the media without having a full understanding of the big picture is not helpful and misleading. The Thai embassy in Phnom Penh can be contacted and is willing to provide information as well as find practical solutions to the issue as best as we can. As indicated above, we are all affected by Covid-19. May I therefore encourage all of us to stay strong and pull through this together. It is only with patience and wisdom that will lead us to win this fight in the end.

Pichit Boonsud

Thai embassy in Phnom Penh

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.

The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.