Australian Embassy Updates

Daily Updates on COVID-19

Headlines summary as of 11 August 2020

News

·         Updates related to COVID-19:

  • Today, Thailand reports no newly confirmed case, a total of 3,351 cases. Out of the total number, 3,163 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.39%); 130 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. This is the 78th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
  • The appeal court has ruled in accordance with the trail court in punishing 6 months jail term without suspension upon the construction tycoon Mr Premchai for the illicit possession of rifles.—Thai Post

Politics

  • The student protest marked another unprecedented milestone as around 3,000-4,000 students (according to AP and Reuters) at Thammasat University, Rangsit campus openly criticised the monarchy which some of the protestors claimed has gone beyond the constitutional monarchy regime has allowed.
  • The representative(s) from the German Embassy in Bangkok went to observe the demonstration.—Thai Rath
  • Mr Pavin, Thai political dissent who is taking refuge in Japan, appeared on stage via video recording supporting the student protest demands.
  • A ‘Thammasat and Protest’ group read their 10 demands for the monarchy, including the demand for the monarch not to pen down endorsement for any further coup d’état and aligning the budget for the monarchy with economic conditions, banning the monarch from expressing political opinions.
  • The group announced they will hold a demonstration at Lumphini Park from 5.00pm on 12 August. (However, the post (at 11.20am) does no longer have the wording on tomorrow protest)
  • This morning the PM said he closely followed the protest and that he does feel unease with this.—Daily News, Krungthep Turakij
  • An expert in Thai politics Kevin Hewison at the University of North Carolina said the protest at Thammasat University “has evolved into the first movement that directly links the monarchy to the regime. It’s historic.”–Bloomberg
  • Pro-government groups began to ask for responsibility of the University’s executive for allowing this inflammatory demonstration to take place. The vice rector Parinya said he apologise that this has happened. When the organiser wrote down the request form, the students mentioned only to criticise the government.–ThaiPBS
  • A vocal Senator Mr Khumnoon spoke this morning requesting the government to hold an ad hoc Parliamentary session to discuss the student protests in order to avoid the political conflict as occurred in bloodshed 6 October 1976.
  • Former Thammasat University academia and pro-government think tank member Mr Suvinai posted on his Facebook Page that there is now a movement in Twitter to stir student protestors to break into the Chulalongkorn University after the protest in Lumphini Park.
  • Yesterday, the pro-government protest “the Coordination Centre of Vocational Students for the Protection of National Institutions” gathered in front of the Parliament. The group said they will set up centre in every province to monitor the anti-monarchical actions.
  • Deputy PM Wissanu said that the seven newly appointed cabinet members will join the weekly cabinet meeting on Thursday after taking the Oath (apparently on tomorrow).–Matichon
  • The Interior Minister said in a Senate meeting that the Ministry is not yet ready to hold the local elections as the Election Commission staffs are not ready in training local staffs. Minister Anupong said that after COVID-19, the election stations need to be equipped with temperature checking machine and hand-gels which would also take time to procure.–Matichon

Business:

  • Social Security Office (SSO) is considering extending low-interest loans to registered workers affected by the pandemic since the arrangement currently extends only to employers.  SSO is also considering allowing subscribers of Social Security Fund to withdraw money from retirement fund to alleviate their economic hardship.  However, this practice is currently prohibited by law and would take time to revise.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Japan Credit Rating Agency’s assessment describes Thailand’s economic outlook as ‘stable’.  It rated Thailand’s long-term government bonds at A- and the Baht currency at A despite the projection that Thailand’s economy would contract by 8 percent.  Source:  National News Bureau of Thailand fb page, 9 August
  • Federation of Thai Industries contended that the government may need to borrow an additional 1 trillion Baht to address the impacts of COVID-19, which could be spent on boosting grassroot economy.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand projects that in the worst-case-scenario, the tourism sector could generate 676.7billion Baht worth of revenue in 2021; notably a 9 percent decline from the previous worst-case scenario forecast for this year and a 75 percent drop from 3 trillion Baht earned in 2019 year.  At best, tourism is expected to generate 1.52 trillion Baht of revenue in 2021.  Source:  The Nation
  • Thai Airways and Thai Smile became the first Thai carriers to receive the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) accreditation.  SHA is a partnership between the Ministry of Public health, Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand and the private sector to develop Thai tourism post-COVID19.  Source:  National News Bureau fb page, 9 August
  • The Trade Competition Commission (OTC) is setting guidelines for online food delivery services to prevent unfair trade practices and keep online food delivery platforms from taking advantage of restaurants.  The draft guideline is completed will be open to public hearing.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism and Sports Ministry will propose to the Center for COVId-19 Situation Administration the opening of 5 islands, namely Phuket, Phi Phi, Samui, Pha Ngan and Tao since the areas could be easily monitored and regulated in terms of care and quarantining of tourists.  Source:  National News Bureau of Thailand fb page, 10 August
  • Commerce Ministry reported that its online business matching activities, organised since April, are positively received and is expected to generate sales value worth 10.6 billion Baht within 1 year.  The highest number of orders were placed on Thai fruits, worth 5.8 billion Baht, most of which are longans for delivery to China, Hong Kong, India, Bangladesh, UAE, Singapore, Bahrain and France.  Auto parts are also popular among American buyers and rice among African buyers.  Source: Nation TV
  • Commerce Ministry revealed that the trade diversion resulting from US-China Trade War has caused Chinese demands for products from Thailand and other countries in its supply chain to decline, which started in Q4 of 2018 but has been easing in the first 6 months of 2020.  Meanwhile, Thai export to the US market saw consistent expansion.  Trends indicate that Chinese and US companies are using Thailand as a base for production and export since 2018.  Source:  Nation TV

Headlines summary as of 10 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports no newly confirmed case, a total of 3,351 cases. Out of the total number, 3,160 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.30%); 133 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. This is the 77th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
    • The Office of the Private Education Commission (Opec) said more than 3,000 foreign teachers will enter Thailand for posts at private-run schools across the country. The teachers will undergo alternative state quarantine.—Bangkok Post
  • The case of Red Bull heir is still developing:
    • The office of Attorney-general told in a press-conference that the office has instructed the Thonglor Police Station to look into the evidence on the car’s speed and the usage of illicit drugs again. The investigation must be finalised by 20 August.—The Reporters
    • The Police Committee told the press that they have found out the culprit in the case and the committee will submit the name list to the Police Chief for his consideration on punishment tomorrow.—Thai Post
  • The 4th Army is mulling asking the cabinet to lift the emergency decree in four more districts of the Deep South Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat as the number of violent situation has this year fallen by 58% compared to last year, while the number of deaths associated with the violence dropped by 70%.—Bangkok Post

Politics

  • The by-election result in Samut Prakan’s Constituency 5 has secured the other seat for the coalition as the candidate from the main ruling Palang Pracharat (PPRP) with 46,747 votes against the opposition parties.—all media outlet
  • The Digital Economy Minister came out to warn the protestors not to post anything in violating the Monarchy. He said that for any Thais, violating the monarchy is not considered acceptable. He also stressed that he has given social media platform (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) to take down ‘inappropriate’ posts as the court has ordered in 15 days; or else the platforms will have to face a fine.—Nation TV
  • The anti-government protestors were on high bulletin last weekend:
    • On Friday morning, the Free Youth Movement announced its new organisation “Free People Movement” at a press conference at the Democracy Monument. The group reiterated its three demands: stop harassing the people; draft a new constitution and dissolve the parliament, on two significant conditions: no coup d’état and no (monarch appointed) national reconciliation government. The movement feared that the government might get away with the pressures by holding a snap election without any amendment to the constitution, so the movement indicates the ultimatum that all senators, hand-picked by PM Prayut with the unprecedented power to vote the PM, need to be gone. They announce the next demonstration on 16 August.—all media outlet
    • On Friday afternoon, human rights activist Anon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok were charged and arrested on charges of sedition and defying an emergency decree imposed to control the coronavirus. They were held overnight at a police station as the court said the police was too late to ask for court detainment. The police also briefed the press that apart from the two, there are 29 more students and activists who are being charged or the same grounds. Free People Movement announced a flash mob at 4.00pm on Saturday.
    • On Friday night, politicians from the main opposition Pheu Thai (Chief Strategist Khunying Sudarat) and Move Forward Party joined the protestors in front of the police station which had arrested the activists.
    • On Saturday morning, the two went to the court with a small group of protestors gathered in front of the court. The upheaval rose high, as there was a rumour that the two will be detained in a prison where fortune teller Mr Suriyan Sucharitpolwong died suspiciously. (Wassana Nanuam). The soothsayer whose surname was given by the current King was put in jail for an alleged corruption in the King’s campaign of ‘Bike for Mom’. In order to lessen the tension, the court had to hold an urgent press conference that if the two were to be put in jail, they will be detained in the Bangkok Remand Prison; not the prison as indicated by the rumour.—Thai Rath, The Standard
    • On Saturday evening, the two activists were released on bail terms (not to repeat the same actions). Meanwhile, around a thousand (Reuters estimated more than 1,000; AP estimated around 800) of anti-government demonstrators rallied in Bangkok CBD denouncing the arrest of the activists and repeating their three main requests. At the end of the flash mob, other activists who got the arrest orders appeared on stage and announce that they will join the demonstration on 16 August (the arrest order indicated that the police must arrest all the 31 activists by 10 August).
    • Another interesting development in the flash-mob was a campaign asking university graduates not to attend the graduation ceremony. (Background: the Royal family members presented the certificate to graduates of all state university in Thailand, the tradition conducted to forge bonds between the monarch and the graduates. Manager).—The Bangkok Insight
    • On Sunday, student protest leaders in the central province of Pitsanulok was taken by unknown state officials for ‘attitude adjustment’. The Phitsanulok protest organiser posted on their Facebook page outlining the processes they passed through. The border patrol military unit which the protestors claimed was taken by denied involvement.—BBC Thai
    • After the bail-out, Anon joined the demonstration in Chiang Mai. He reiterated the speech he gave on 3 August where he claimed the monarch has extended the power beyond the democratic with constitutional monarchy regime has allowed. He also underlined the ultimatum in demanding the junta hand-picked Senators to resign by 30 September. The police said there were 500 protestors while the organisers claimed 1,000 participants.—BBC Thai
    • This morning, another group of protestor gathered in front of the Parliament demanding the drafting of the new election. Authority concerns that there will be a clash between the group and the pro-government group led by Lt Gen Nanthadet Meksawat, a former key member of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (a group led by key members of Democrat Party formed after the Yingluck government amnesty bill and the main proposition of General Prayut coup d’état in 2014).—all media outlet 
  • The authority’s perspective on constitutional amendment is still evolving:
    • Democrat party’s deputy leader Ong-art Klampaibul said the third largest coalition party is on the same page with the charter amendment proposal to scrap the Senate’s power in joining the House to vote on PM. He also disagreed with the provision of security forces’ head serving concurrently as the senator.—Naew Na
    • The Senate also holds different stances on the amendment. Senator Seree Suwanpanont responded to the proposition of Senator Wanchai Sornsiri in scrapping Senator’s  PM vote power by saying that the majority of the Senate is still undecided over the issue.—Krungthep Turakij

Business:

  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) will start a new study on CPTPP with hope to submit the study for the government to join the pact next year. Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree said the CPTPP is an opportunity for Thailand to export products to new markets. Concurrently, the House and the cabinet (via Trade Negotiations Department) also establish panels to study the impacts of CPTPP.—Bangkok Post, Manager, Naew Na
  • The FTI said they will present its economic rehabilitation plan to newly appointed Finance Minister Predee, asking the government to let Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation extend the debt guarantee for SMEs under the central bank’s soft loan scheme for another two years from the existing two-year plan. One of the proposals is to have the government speeding up 50-billion-baht fund to assist micro enterprises and SMEs overall in gaining easier access to commercial bank loans.—Prachachrt Turakij
  • The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) reported on Friday that the consumer confidence index rose to 50.1 in July from 49.2 in June, 48.2 in May and 47.2 in April. The president of UTCC said the easing of restriction, the government’s economic stimulus package and the better COVID-19 situation in Thailand has resulted in the better consumer sentiment.—ThaiPBS 

 Opinion:

  • With Mr Preedee is set to become the next Finance Minister, it is expected that one of his missions is to restructure the budget in an attempt to squeeze some budget for economic recovery. The report said that the new Finance Minister eyes to cut-down the roads renovation budget of Transport Ministry which is now under the second largest Bhumjaithai party control. However, the mission is not a path paved with roses, as the Minister is eyeing to use the budget PR the party in their constituencies.—Krungthep Turakij
  • An opinion piece views the political landscape with the demand on drafting the new constitution and demand reform while PM Prayut who has been in power for almost 6 years has not been able to deliver which, in Thailand, would more often than not lead to the coup d’état.–ThaiRath 

Headlines summary as of 7 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 15 newly confirmed case, a total of 3,345 cases. Out of the total number, 3,148 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.11%); 139 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thai nationals returned from Egypt (4); Saudi Arabia (10); and Japan (1) and have been in state quarantine since. This is the 74th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
  • Their Majesties the King and Queen will hold an event in the Grand Palace on 12 August to celebrate the birthday of the Queen Mother.—all media outlet

Politics

  • After the King’s endorsement of the new cabinet line-up, the PM justified the portfolio with the press this morning. As for the Foreign Minister Don who will also serve as Deputy PM, the PM said he plans to ‘upgrade’ the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cover on business and economic aspects in response to the COVID-19 effects. The PM plans to have the former diplomat Don to do PR on EEC or investment incentives. As for the Deputy Labour Minister Narumon, the PM said he is planning to have Labour Ministry as the other economic Ministry.–Matichon
  • Reuters summarised Thai politics since 2014 military coup.–Reuters
  • The Free People Movement held a press conference this morning announcing that they are going to hold a mass gathering on 16 August from 3.00-9.00pm. They are reiterating their 3 main propositions: drafting a new Constitution; dissolution of the Parliament; and stop harassing the protestors. The organisers said that the gathering does not aim to plan for prolonged gathering. The organiser said should the vocal human rights lawyer Anon who openly questions the current monarchy status which is getting beyond the constitutional monarchy regime want to join the demonstration, he is welcomed to.
  • The by-election in Samut Prakan’s constituency 5 is set to be held on this Sunday. PPRP is set to re-secure the seat as two largest opposition Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties both file their candidates.—Thai Rath
  • Four large parties are testing the water for the expected Bangkok gubernatorial election: Pheu Thai with a disarray of who might be the candidate; Democrat with Police Chief Chakthip; PPRP with a candidate team, potentially Watanya Wongopasi or Taya Teepsuwan as the head; and Move Forward with Ariya Banomyong.–Prachachart

Opinion:

  • The fragility of Prayut Regime: many academic studies have described Prayut regime with two significant characteristics; namely, the military holds the hegemonic roles while weakening other political institutions and the military is joining hands with conglomerate to take the lead. However, the author sees that the Eastern Tiger faction in the army which is the power base for the current leadership is fading from the top Army positions. With this and the lesser political capital within the main ruling PPRP, the Prayut regime is getting more and more fragile each day.—Matichon Weekly

Business:

CPTPP

  • Director-General Auramon of Trade Negotiations Department, Commerce Ministry informed the Cabinet that Thailand had not applied for CPTPP membership at the 5th August annual CPTPP member meeting and would have to wait until next August’s meeting to apply.  The parliament-appointed CPTPP Committee supports the view that Thailand will join CPTPP when it is ready, considering that its study will not conclude until 30 September.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30392552
  • Members of the TPP at the 5th August meeting postponed discussions over Thailand joining the trade bloc as deliberations on the Thai side faced delays amid political uncertainties.  These include former DPM Somkid’s resignation, the appointment of the new economic team and the delay in the results of parliamentary committee’s CPTPP studies.  Moreover, other TPP members such as Chile, Brunei, Malaysia and Peru have hit delays in ratifying the trade agreement as those governments prioritize their response to the coronavirus.  Source:  Asia Nikkei Review

Others

  • Thailand’s July headline inflation reported a drop of 0.98 percent YoY.  Despite being the fifth straight month of decline, July’s contraction had slowed from -1.57 percent in June, -3.44 percent in May (the biggest drop in nearly 11 years) and -2.99 percent in April as the economic activities started resume following the easing of the lockdown.  Inflation for the first 7 months of this year is -1.11 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • At an event marking Bangkok Post’s 74th anniversary, entitled Bangkok Post Forum 2020: Thailand Rebounds, Policy in the ‘New Normal’, PM Prayut affirmed that the government is pursuing remedial measures to revitalise the domestic economy, assist SMEs and promote export and tourism to ensure GDP will not drop below -10 percent.  He also urges Thais to unite to move the country past the economic crisis and restore investors’ confidence in the Eastern Economic Corridor, Southern Economic Corridor and other special economic zones.  He noted that Thailand’s agricultural sector needs to be upgraded and export structure must be adjusted to meet the needs of global market.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • Thai airlines will seek a meeting with PM Prayut to ask for the 25-billion-Baht soft loans that have been delayed since March in the absence of a finance minister.  During these 4 months, airlines struggles and some, such as Nok Scoot, inevitably exited the market.  Airlines will also propose the government extend relief measures for an additional six months from September, such as excise tax cut for jet fuel.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (Osmep) is looking for new financing sources for its 50-billion-Baht SME Fund since it is likely to miss out on funding from the government’s 400-billion-Baht economic and social rehabilitation budget due to legal complications.  The SME Fund is envisaged as a channel for SMEs to access soft loans to survive the pandemic.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Finance Ministry’s Public Debt Management Office affirms that the USD1.5 billion borrowed from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) comes with favourable conditions.  The borrowing is part of the government’s plan to borrow 1 trillion Baht to revive the economy.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1964135/pdmo-applauds-terms-of-1-5bn-extended-by-adb
  • PM Prayuth’s government had handed key positions in the energy and finance departments to former executives in a state-owned company and a commercial bank after sacking the economic team headed by former DPM Somkid.  Among the incoming leaders are Supattanapong Punmeechaow, former president and CEO of state petrochemical enterprise PTT Global Chemical, who will become a deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister. Predee Daochai, previously a Kasikornbank co-president, will become the Finance Minister. Although Somkid’s team had been praised for its expertise in economic policymaking, it failed to address sloppy management of state enterprises. It is hoped that Supattanapong, with his background in managing a government enterprise, will be able to lead his team to implement reforms in the state sector.  Source:  Asia Nikkei Review
  • The Codex Alimentarius Commission has approved several food-related standards that could affect farmers and food manufacturers in Thailand.  The Codex meeting, held from 13-21 July, approved Good Hygienic Practices (GHP) for food manufacturing and has adjusted the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).  The National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards has therefore revised its agricultural commodity and HACCP standards and make the necessary adjustments to comply with international requirements.  Source: The Nation

Headlines summary as of 6 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports two newly confirmed case, a total of 3,330 cases. Out of the total number, 3,148 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.53%); 124 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thai nationals returned from the US and have been in state quarantine since. This is the 73rd consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.

Politics

  • Breaking: A media reports that the PM told the press that he has already submitted the new cabinet line-up to HM the King. The next process is for the King to give endorsement and then the new cabinet will give an oath. All the process, the PM has affirmed, will be finished by mid-August.—The Reporters
  • Political parties are voicing their opinions on constitutional amendment:
    • Deputy PM and Democrat party leader Jurin briefed the press that the 52 seats coalition party will seek cooperation from other parties to introduce the draft. The third largest coalition party aims to amend section 256 (Constitutional amendment). Democrat Party, however, said that they have no opinion regarding the role of the Senate.—Nation TV
    • The secretary-general of the newly established Kla Party voiced the party stance on charter amendment that amending section 256 is not enough; section 272 (which allows the junta hand pick Senate to join the House in voting for the PM nomination) should be amended too.—Nation TV
  • A media reports on the possible Bangkok governor election as a political tactic to reduce pressure against the government. It is estimated earlier that the Police Chief Chakthip will run for the gubernatorial seat as the main ruling PPRP candidate. Meanwhile, a source said that the Move Forward Party and Progressive Movement might nominate Professor Suchatchavee Suwansawas, the rector of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang to be the Bangkok governor candidate.—Thai Rath
  • The organiser of the Free People Movement (formerly Free Youth Movement) announced that, after they scheduled to hold a mass rally last Saturday, the newly established movement will hold a press conference on 7 August and will announce the next mass movement.—Thai Rath
  • Apiwat Kantong, vice minister of the Office of the Prime Minister, filed a complaint against human rights lawyer Anon Nampa accusing him of defaming the monarchy and violating the public health regulations of the emergency decree. Anon, on Monday, demanded reforms to the monarchy. The lawyer said the government has allowed the monarchy to exercise his power to be above the constitutional monarchy regime has allowed.–Prachatai

Business:

  • The Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to keep the policy rate at a record low of 0.50 percent at its meeting yesterday.  BOT asserts that policy interest rate cannot be a key driver of Thailand’s economic growth, instead citing fiscal as well as monetary policies and economic restructuring as the main engines.  BOT also highlighted its concern for the strong Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) downgraded Thailand’s 2020 economic growth to a decline of 7-9 percent and is convinced there are no positive signs to attract investors into Thailand in the second half of this year.  A panel will also be established at the end of August to propose an economic rehabilitation plan to the new economic cabinet.  In the pipeline are also plans to establish committees focusing on economic reform and tax measures to help businesses affected by the pandemic.  Source:  Bangkok Post   Thansettakij
  • Monthly social security contributions by employers and employees will be cut for the second time as part of the Covid-19 relief measure after it was approved by the cabinet earlier this week.  Contributions from the employer and employee will be reduced from 5 to 2 percent from September until November.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The price of domestic gold continues to reach all-time highs as prices quoted in US dollars surge past USD2,000 an ounce, with month-to-date online gold futures logging heavy trading volume.  Month-to-date trading volume was 35,682 contracts on Wednesday on the Thailand Futures Exchange, compared with 34,681 contracts in the whole month of July. This could come to a halt if a COVID-19 vaccine is successfully developed.  Source: Bangkok Post

CPTPP

  • FTA Watch has been monitoring the 5th August CPTPP virtual meeting in Mexico, in which no other countries had shown intention in acceding to the trade pact.   FTA Watch praises the new-generation Thais for querying the government’s trade and economic policies, which led to the establishment of the parliament sub-committee on CPTPP and opened up a platform for the previously-oppressed dissident voices.  FTA Watch also showed support for the 3 requests put forth by the youth movement, namely to stop harassing dissident voices, to draft a new constitution and to dissolve of the parliament and start a new election.  Source:  https://www.isranews.org/article/isranews/90933-cptpp.html

Tourism

  • Tourism operators proposed the ‘Safe and Sealed’ plan to the Tourism and Sports Ministry to replace the travel bubble scheme.  This plan will allow foreign travellers to visit Thailand in Q4, but only from cities with no infections for at least 30 days under conditions set by tour operators in designated hotels and provinces.  It is expected to draw 500,000 tourists and generate 50 billion Baht in revenue. Tourism operators also called for the government to establish a tourism fund to provide soft loans, given that Thai hotel sector saw 30-40 percent of 1.5 million jobs vanish in the past 6 months and just 50 percent of hotels have reopened.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • A 6-billion Baht tourism community development plan is being considered by NESDC to develop 10,000 new tourism communities and upgrade existing ones to spur the local economy.  The plan, proposed by the National Village and Urban Community Office, seeks an allocation from the 400 billion Baht budget the government set aside for economic and social rehabilitation as part of the Stimulus Phase III package.  Source: Bangkok Post

Automotive

  • Toyota Motor Thailand reported its domestic sales fell in the first half this year by 45 percent YoY to 94,222 units and also reduced its domestic sales target to 220,000 cars.  Overall, total car sales in Thailand dropped by 37.3 percent to 328,604 units in the first 6 months.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • In April, manufacturers of auto parts had to cut their production capacity to 30 percent, with around 80-90 percent of the companies temporarily closing down.  Since June, most companies were able to rev up their production capacity to 50 percent due to the resumption of businesses, yet production capacity is not expected to reach 80 percent this year.  Currently auto part production relies on demands for new cars, given that 80 percent of the auto parts are supplied to OEM car manufacturers and 20 percent are used as spare parts.  Source: Thansettakij

Headlines summary as of 5 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports seven newly confirmed case, a total of 3,328 cases. Out of the total number, 3,144 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.47%); 126 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thai nationals returned from UAE, Egypt and the US and have been in state quarantine since. This is the 72nd consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
    • Media reports that the Army has affirmed the public that the Army has arranged four additional personnel, including from Special Forces to make sure that the American and Japanese military currently at Alternate State Quarantine in downtown Bangkok will follow the public health regulations.—Thai Rath
    • An editorial questioning the necessity of allowing the US troops to hold a training operations. The article juxtaposed the Japanese Okinawa prefecture’s declaration of state of emergency with the outbreak likely to occur in Thailand.—Bangkok Post
  • After the weekly cabinet meeting, the Public Health Ministry has gained cabinet approval to allow health professionals, farmers and medical patients to grow, produce and export cannabis and its products. This is the latest development Thailand, since 2017 when Thailand became the first SEA nation to legalise marijuana for medical use and research, but merely the government has been allowed to cultivate. —AP, Reuters and all Thai media outlet

Politics

  • The PM has made a swift U-turn as he told the media in the media briefing after the weekly cabinet meeting that he and the government is open to the idea of constitutional amendments and that he is going to assign the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council to host a forum to listen to the needs of the student protestors.—all media outlet
    • The PM; however, has warned the students not to create chaos. The PM said “I beg people not to create chaos at this time. We are solving these problems together”.
    • Media reports that prior to the media briefing, the PM met with Deputy PM Wissanu and leaders of the coalition Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties to discuss the constitutional amendment by the Opposition.—Inside Thailand
  • The Digital Economy Minister posted on his Twitter account that the ministry is collecting evidence to seek the court order to capture the computer crime act violators. The Minister from the main coalition party stressed that foreign internet platforms that are operating in Thailand needs to abide by the Thai law. He also said that ‘good news’ is coming soon.—Siam Rath The DE Minister also said that the ministry is ready to press computer crime act charge against Facebook as the social media operator failed to block contents that the Ministry has requested with court orders.–Prachatai
  • This morning, Army Chief Apirat was at the Royal Military Academy and criticised those who is not patriotic. He said “COVID-19 can be cured, but the disease of hating the nation cannot be cured”. The Army Chief has long been vocal against those who is not loyal to the nation and the monarchy.—all media outlet

Business:

Cabinet’s Decisions, 5 August 2020

  • Finance Ministry received approval to borrow USD1.5 billion (48 billion Baht) from the Asian Development Bank as part of the government’s 1 trillion Baht loan scheme to stimulate the economy.  Interest is 0.50 percent a year, with repayments to be made in two tranches.  The first tranche is worth USD 500 million, with repayment term of 10 years or until year 2030.  The second tranche, worth USD1 billion, has a 5-year repayment term or until year 2025.  The borrowing must be disbursed by 30 June 2021. This would bring the proportion of overseas loans to public debt at 2.46 percent, which is still below the ceiling set by the government’s fiscal sustainability framework of 10 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Approved of 884.62 million Baht to be spent on 157 economic recovery projects in 57 provinces to help farming businesses affected by the pandemic.  This is part of the 400 billion Baht budget earmarked for economic rehabilitation as part of Phase III stimulus package.  Source:  Nation TV Bangkok Post
  • Approved of Labour Ministry’s plan to allow more than half a million foreign workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar with proper travel documents to continue their employment in Thailand until the end of March 2022.  Source: Bangkok Post

Thai Government website   The Nation

Others

  • Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO) plans to offer privileges comparable to those of the BOI directly to investors, backed by Section 59 of the EEC Act.  In short, EECO plans to offer an 8-year corporate income tax exemption and a 50 percent corporate income tax reduction for investments in targeted industries in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation, Eastern Economic Corridor of Digital and the Eastern Airport City project at U-tapao.  The EECO will next focus on smart city development, with proposal to be submitted to the EEC Policy Committee chaired by PM Prayut this month.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism and Sports Ministry propose to PM Prayut the idea of abolishing dual pricing at local attractions for expatriates in Thailand.  The Tourism Authority of Thailand is also working with private tour companies to create packages specifically for expats, given that this group could contribute up to 1 billion Baht in tourism revenue.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • Starting from 4 August, the Government Savings Bank is launching the second round of its 20-billion Baht emergency loan for employees with fixed income who are affected by the pandemic (0.35 percent interest).  The emergency loan was launched for the first time in April as part of the Phase II stimulus package and while many applied for the loan, some were disqualified since they did not have fixed income.  GSB bank proposes for the loans to be extended to freelancers or informal workers with no fixed income.  Source:  Bangkok Post  Krungthep Turakij
  • Thailand’s agricultural GDP has declined by 5.1 percent in the first half of 2020, embattled by the drought, climate fluctuation and the pandemic, according to the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE).  OAE urges farmers to adapt to the new normal by capitalising on new opportunities offered by e-commerce.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • Charoen Pokphand Group, the company building a high-speed railway line linking Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports, has established a panel of experts to supervise the construction of the project to ensure economic, social and environmental sustainability.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • KKP Research by Kiatnakin Phatra Financial Group asserted that continuous foreign net outflows from Thailand’s stock market are not caused by headwinds to the economic outlook, but rather the country’s lower competitiveness and structural economic problems.  This is reflected in the reduced FDI figures in Thailand and foreign investors being net sellers of local equities since 2013.  Source: Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 4 August 2020

News

Updates related to COVID-19:

  • Today, Thailand reports a newly confirmed case, a total of 3,321 cases. Out of the total number, 3,142 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.61%); 121 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed case is a Thai national returned from Russia and has been in state quarantine since. This is the 71st consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
  • Yesterday, the CCSA informed the public that there are more than 100 military personnel from the US and Japan to take part in military training and will be in ASQ for 14 days in Conrad Hotel on Wireless Road and Anantra Riverside on Thonburi side of town.
  • At 10 am the office of attorney-general has told a press briefing that the office will press charge against the Red Bull heir on using illicit drugs; and will revise the investigation on driving at above speed limit, based on a new sets of evidence found.—all media outlet

Politics

  • After the weekly cabinet meeting, the PM has told in press briefing that he support the House’s committee proposal to amend the constitution. He said that in the next Parliamentary session, the House can discuss on this and he said the government is giving its full support on this.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Regarding the new cabinet line-up, the PM has approved the resignation of Government spokesperson Prof Dr Narumon effective from July, 30. The media speculates that it is highly likely that she will be nominated for the Deputy Labour Minister.—all media outlet  
  • Media quotes a source in the Government House saying that the PM has decided to nominate Mr Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, the former main ruling PPRP spokesperson and the secretary to the former Finance Minister as the next government spokesperson, citing his ability to excel in politically complex issues.–Prachachart
  • Yesterday marks a significant moment of the series of flash mob as a human rights lawyer openly demanded reforms to the monarchy. The lawyer said the government has allowed the monarchy to exercise his power to be above the constitutional monarchy regime has allowed. Also, the monarch and the palace did not come out to deter or comment on the case of ultra-right wing Doctor Rianthong who has been using the monarchical institution to harass the dissidents. The organiser has proposed three points:
    • 1. Abolish or amend laws that would make the monarchy have powers that is incompatible with the constitutional monarchy regime;
    • 2. Amend the lese majeste law to be compatible with democratic regime;
  • Thailand’s digital minister has threatened legal action against Facebook and accused the social media giant of not complying with government requests to restrict content deemed illegal, including perceived insults to the country’s monarchy.–Reuters

Business

  • University of Thai Chamber of Commerce forecasts that Thailand’s GDP this year will contract by 11.4 percent in the worst-case-scenario, wherein Thailand is closed off for at least 6 months; the government’s 400-billion-Baht budget set aside for economic and social rehabilitation is not disbursed; and global trade worsens.  This will mark the deepest contraction since Thailand’s economic readings began in 1961.  The crisis would incur the heaviest economic losses, estimated at 2.1 trillion Baht as of yesterday, which will exceed the 1.4 trillion Baht worth of damages generated by the 2011 floods.  In addition, the drought would also cause 76.3 billion Baht in losses to the country.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • According to a survey conducted by the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce on 800 SMEs from 20-24 July, most SMEs can survive from 3 – 9 months if they continue to have instable income.  Those that can survive for 9 months are in fashion & textile; plastic & rubber; carpentry & furniture; wholesale; restaurants and beauty sectors.  SMEs that can survive for 6 months include food & beverages; jewellery; retail; tourism; hospitality; construction; and logistics.  Businesses that survive the shortest, for 3 months, is automotive.  Source: Krungthep Turakij
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) has expressed fresh concerns over the delay in disbursement of the 400-billion-Baht stimulus budget due to the political vacuum caused by economic minister reshuffling. The government is urged to launch short-term and mid-term plans to spur the economy, given that the 5,000 Baht cash-handout has ended since June.  It also noted that export may not recover as the Baht remains strong.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry is encouraging hotels in Thailand to offer the same hotel rates to expatriates as the locals, given that the country aims to attract 2 million foreign residents to travel more domestically.  Moreover, expats have higher purchasing power than locals and if they travel domestically four times during the remainder of the year, they would generate 8 million trips for the tourism industry.  However, to date, government does not have stimulus measures for expats.   Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Gold price has been soaring and is anticipated to reach USD2,000 per ounce.  In Thailand, the price of bullion with 96.5 percent purity is edging closer to 30,000 baht per one-Baht weight gold.  The investment return generated from gold is around 30 percent year-to-date.  Gold Futures reached an all-time high on 1 August, with price surging past USD2,000 an ounce, while SPDR Gold Shares – an exchange-traded fund that most domestic gold mutual funds invest in – saw a 30 percent rise in the fund’s asset values as it had net inflows of over $20 billion during the past 12 months.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN) has organised a public hearing aimed at revamping the Free Trade Agreement Fund (FTA Fund), which was launched to assist farmers who are affected by the 13 FTAs Thailand signed with 18 countries.  Recommendations were made for the FTA to become a revolving fund, with funds raised from the private sector rather than an allocation from the government.  DTN will finalise the proposals and submit it for Commerce Ministry’s approval by the end of this year.  Source: Prachachart Turakij
  • The Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT) said the EV market in Thailand is the most advanced among ASEAN countries and will grow quickly during 2025 to 2030.  While foreign auto companies are keen to invest in EV production in Thailand because it is a manufacturing base for normal cars, EV investment and production have been moving slowly due to high operating costs.  Meanwhile, the National EV Policy Committee has approved plans to make Thailand a production base for EVs within five years.  It is envisaged that by 2030, 30 percent of all vehicles produced in Thailand will be EV.  Source:  The Nation
  • The Chearavanont family who owns the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), has ranked 21st on Bloomberg’s “World’s Richest Families” list for the year 2020 with assets totalling USD30.7 billion (959.19 billion Baht).  Of the 25 families listed on the Bloomberg 2020 listing, the Chearavanont family is the only Thai family on the list. Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Ministry of Finance reports that the number of applications for pico-finance loans in June 2020 was 1,214, a slight increase of 15 from May 2020 as the lockdown eases.  However, the number of NPLs from pico-finance loan in May, valued at 423.69 million Baht, remains high as debtors affected by COVID-19 are unable to service their debts.  Source: Thai Rath

Australia

  • An opinion piece on Australia’s dilemma in engaging with China economically and the American politically and militarily in the shifting domestic political climates within Canberra and Washington.—Bangkok Post

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