US Ambassador Questions Emergency Decree Extension

U.S. Ambassador Michael George DeSombre, left, discusses with deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, right, during an official visit to the Government House on May 27, 2020.
U.S. Ambassador Michael George DeSombre, left, discusses with deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, right, during an official visit to the Government House on May 27, 2020.

BANGKOK — The newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Thailand on Wednesday queried the government on its decision to extend the Emergency Decree with a stated aim of combating the coronavirus outbreak.

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said ambassador Michael George DeSombre raised the questions about the decree extension during his visit to Government House. Wissanu described the inquiries as the ambassador’s personal interest unrelated to politics.

“The ambassador asked the question because of his curiosity,” Wissanu said. “He has no concern over it. We also discussed a lot of issues including the rehabilitation of Thai Airways.”

Wissanu said he told the ambassador the decree is necessary to maintain strict disease control measures across all the provinces. It also empowers Governors to efficiently execute their orders, such as closing down venues, he said.

Photos released by the government show Wissanu and DeSombre in their face masks during the discussion; the former wearing a face mask with the government’s emblem while the latter’s mask shows American national flag.

According to Wissanu, ambassador DeSombre also expressed his gratitude to the Thai government for its effort in containing the crisis. He then reaffirmed his pledge to improve Thai labor skills when the outbreak eases.

The new U.S. ambassador to Thailand is the first non-career diplomat to be appointed to the position since 1975. In a recent op-ed published on Prachachart Turakij newspaper, DeSombre said he’s committed to keeping Thailand’s position as a supply chain base for US companies.

He previously worked in a law firm before being nominated by president Donald Trump in 2019.