Advance Blog

May 13, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 13th May 2020

News

  • The cabinet has approved to designate December, 4th as “National Unity Day”, drawing upon a speech of the late King Bhumibol in 1991 asking the country to have unity.—All media outlet (In King Rama 9 reign, it is customary for the King to deliver a speech to the nation, a day before his birthday on 5 December.)
  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • As of today, Thailand reports no newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,017 cases. Out of the total number, there are 2,844 cases discharged from hospital, 117 cases are being hospitalized. The death toll is at 56.
    • Yesterday, Yang Xin, Chargé D’affaires at the Chinese embassy, and Gen Chaichan attended a ceremony to take delivery of the medical supplies at the air force’s Wing 6 in Don Muang. Gen Chaichan, who represented Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, said the medical supplies were worth 30 million baht and included six non-invasive ventilators, 10 electrocardiograms, 30 infusion pumps, 100 infrared thermometers and 6,000 Covid-19 PCR test kits.—Bangkok Post, Matichon 

Politics

  • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has denied the government commissioned an opinion poll on whether the emergency decree imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic should be extended. The PM said in a news conference after the cabinet meeting that the government place public health as the main priority in deciding whether to extend the decree further. —all media outlet
    • The PM has quoted a media poll which 88% supports the extension of the Emergency Decree.—Thai Post, Khao Sod
  • After the Progressive Movement claimed responsibility for projecting laser #FindingtheTruth onto areas where there was a deadly crackdown of red shirt protestors in 2010
    • The PM said the action is not “appropriate”, since Thailand is still dealing with COVID-19 crisis.
    • Key person in the government, including Deputy PM Prawit and Wissanu said that the security apparatus is “looking into the issue”.
    •  Tipanan Sirichana, a main coalition Phalang Pracharat Party deputy spokesperson, warned the Move Forward Party (successor of the now defunct Future Forward Party) that the party risks being dissolved if its executives and MPs played a role in the Progressive Movement’s #FindingtheTruth campaign on the grounds that the party allowed the Progressive Movement which is an outsider to control, interfere in and guide their internal affairs according to Section 28 of the 2017 political party law.—all media outlet
  • The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights posted on their website that Thai artist, “MR.ZEN” who is accused of bringing in misinformation to the computer system when he returned to Thailand from Spain and posted on Facebook that there was no health screening at the airport. The public prosecutor has asked the court to impose the highest penalty upon the artist since the information he posted could create anxiety among the people. The artist declined the allegation. Observer from Trail Watch organization was there in the trail. This case has attracted human rights organizations domestically and internationally since it is the usage of Computer Crime Act to suppress people’s freedom of speech to peacefully criticise government.

Business:

Cabinet’s Decisions, 12 May

  • The enforcement of the Data Privacy Act is postponed for 1 year from 27 May 2020 as proposed by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.  Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/tech/433992
  • The cabinet approved a bill to transfer 88.45 billion Baht from the fiscal 2020 budgets of each ministry for allocating into a central fund to combat the pandemic and rehabilitate the economy.  The draft bill is likely to be enforced in June this year. The biggest budget transfer is from the Finance Ministry (36 billion baht), Defence Ministry (18 billion Baht), Transport Ministry (11 billion Baht) and Interior Ministry (3.47 billion Baht).
  • Similarly, the cabinet approved the transfer of 40.32 billion Baht from fiscal 2021 budgets from various ministries for allocation to the central budget to combat the pandemic next year.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1916964/cabinet-okays-transfer-of-b88-45bn-from-ministries
  • Non Performing Loan (NPL) ratio surged from 6.1 percent to 8.1 percent at the end of March YoY due to a number of headwinds such as the pandemic. National Credit Bureau revealed that bad loans for mortgages, auto & personal loans and credit cards amounted to 636 billion Baht, while loans outstanding for home, auto and personal loans and credit cards is 8.96 trillion Baht.  Gen X, specifically those aged 38-40, were the major contributor to household debt and NPLs.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1917088/ncb-lenders-npl-ratio-rises-to-8-1-

Cash-Handout

  • The Social Security Office has paid compensations to 568,604 eligible applicants (worth 3.05 million Baht) from the total of 1.03 million applicants.  Payments for some 313,445 people will be completed by 15 May.  The remaining 146,285 applicants still lack documentations from the employees, with the Ministry for Labour expected to complete the following-up and screening processes by 12 May.  Source:  Thai Government fb page, 13 May 2020
  • Of the 14 million approved applicants for the 5,000 Baht cash-handout, Finance Ministry has paid 11.8 million recipients and will pay the remaining recipients within this week.  The appeal is set to close on 15 May, with the screening outcome expected on 17 May.  Some 1,300 rejected applicants appealed to the Finance Ministry yesterday, fewer than in recent days.
  • Finance Minister has assigned related agencies to help the 1.7 million applicants who did not complete the online cash-handout applications.  Applicants who do not meet the criteria will be forwarded to other state agencies for assistance. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1916968/stipend-paid-to-almost-12m-recipients

Others

ASEAN/World

  • Thai residents living in eight northeastern provinces along the Mekong River are opposed to Laos’ plans to construct a new hydropower dam on the Mekong River over fears it will threaten the river system, where seasonal flooding supports fisheries and regional agriculture.—Bangkok Post, BBC Thai
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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