Chatchai Promlert, permanent secretary for the Interior Ministry, is insisting that his approval to provide free COVID-19 vaccine doses to over 70,000 Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev) employees and their families is lawful.
Over the weekend Mr Promlert was asked whether such approval was considered appropriate because many people across the country have yet to receive their jabs.
Mr Chatchai, who is also responsible for dealing with emergency situations and coordinating with provincial governors, was criticised after a letter addressed to governors and signed by him on 17th June, went viral on the internet.
The letter details a request for support on the matter.
The company has requested assistance for the vaccination of 43,201 employees and 28,244 families in Bangkok and 76 provinces.
Mr Promlert said he approved the allocation of free COVID-19 vaccine doses to ThaiBev under the guidelines of the National Communicable Diseases Committee.
The guidelines, dated 18th May, open the opportunity for the public and private sectors to request vaccine doses for their people, especially in at-risk areas, he said.
“It is to prevent the emergence of new clusters and a spread of COVID-19. Please be confident in the vaccine distribution initiative of the National Vaccine Committee and the CCSA (Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration),” Mr Promlert said.
“We observe the same standard. There will be no selective behaviour since vaccination is a national issue that must proceed quickly,” he said.
“The approval is in line with the guidelines of the National Communicable Diseases Committee to provide mass vaccinations to all people.”
He said many in the public and private sectors are requesting vaccine support, including the Thai Industries Federation.
Chaiya Promma, deputy leader of the Pheu Thai Party and MP for Nong Bua Lam Phu province, said he disagrees with a large alcoholic beverage company being granted a request for vaccine support while people in the rest of the country are still not jabbed.
He said there is no need for the company to be provided with vaccine doses because it is capable of finding its own supplies for its employees.
The Interior Ministry, he said, should instead give its support to local authorities such as village heads, kamnan and local frontline workers as many of them remain unjabbed.
Yuttapong Charasathien, deputy leader of the Pheu Thai Party, also questioned why a large alcoholic beverage company had requested vaccine support from the Interior Ministry’s permanent secretary.