Oh Thailand...my former home -- there are some beautiful aspects of the country I miss (people, beaches, food), some things that are just ridiculous (paid elections, an aggressive minority being allowed to take over a major airport, bad policemen being punished by being forced to wear Hello Kitty badges), and some things that are just stupid. The latest gaming news coming out of The Land of Smiles falls somewhere between the last two categories. According to Game Culture:
"At a news conference in Bangkok today, Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, said the government may shut down the nation's game parlors to head off a recent spike in swine flu infections. The announcement comes just days after Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai identified the popular game centers as hotspots for transmission of the disease."
There are several things wrong with this. Firstly, it appears that the Thai government has never heard of Lysol and/or Purell. Instead of shutting down places where people earn and spend money, why not supply these Internet cafes with products to keep them clean or at least give them proper instruction on how to do so? Many people eat from food carts or food stalls that would not be considered sanitary by Western standards (despite that, my favorite food there remains street food); I guarantee you that you'll find more germs at a food stall than a "game parlor". And let's be honest, there's still a lot of skin trade happening in the country (even though it's illegal according to Thai law). I'm sure that has helped the spread of swine flu (among other things).
The article went on to say:
"On Sunday, nearly 200 new cases of the disease were reported; more than 80% of those cases involved children. Interviews with patients pointed to Bangkok's popular gaming cafes as a hub for transmission."
While PCs, particularly keyboards, are a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty bacteria and I'm certain that some of the cases were contracted at Internet shops, I don't believe the "80%" figure for a second. (In my experience, I've found it best not to believe any number the Thai government cites.) Maybe I'm being paranoid (or maybe TheFeed's Jeffrey Kanjanapangka has caused me to believe that Thai people are shifty), but I really see the government using this proclamation to distract people using a global illness. The Thai government is a disaster and its economy isn't too far behind. Let's distract the people with sickness and cute kids! Is that a stretch?