Advance Blog

May 14, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 14th May 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports one newly confirmed cases, total confirmed cases at 3,018 cases. Out of the total cases, 2,850 have been discharged from the hospital, 112 are being hospitalized and the death toll is at 56.
    • With lesser numbers of newly COVID-19 confirmed cases, the CCSA will have a full plenary meeting tomorrow to ease more restrictions. It is expected that the curfew hours which is from 10pm-4am will be shortened to 11pm-4am. There are some requests for the government to stop the enforcement of emergency decree.—all media outlet
    • The Phuket governor is seeking permission from Bangkok to reopen its airport, ports and permanent road access to the mainland from this Saturday onwards after several days with no new Covid-19 infections detected.
  • Yesterday, US ambassador met with Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Jurin. The US has discussed 4 points: 1. The US admired Thailand in dealing with COVID-19 2. The US supports businesses to move their production base to Thailand. 3. The US is happy to cooperate on Intellectual property Rights to get Thailand out of the US’ Watch List and 4. The US sees Thailand as a post-COVID-19 potential tourism market. Meanwhile, Mr Jurin has made four requests: 1. He has asked the US support to have US production sector to use Thai product more. 2. Asked the US to facilitate the product shipment from Thailand to the US. 3. Asked the US Ambassador to coordinate with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to shut down illegal products pages/ accounts (i.e. face mask). And 4. Asked the US private sector to attend the Digital content exhibition at the Ministry of Commerce from 25-27 May. –all media outlet
  • UNICEF has condemned the repeated rape of two girls, aged 14 and 16, allegedly with the involvement of their teachers and former students from a public school. The child protection organization criticized Thailand for failing to protect children.—Bangkok Post, Siam Rath, Khao Sod,

Politics

  • Breaking: Media reports last night that the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party leader and the Finance Minister Uttama has resigned from the party leadership. Mr Uttama has been pressured during the last two weeks to resign as Party executives under Deputy PM cliques have resigned earlier. The party executives composes of 34 members, Deputy PM Prawit plan to have more than half to resign (which will automatically oust the Party leader and secretary-general out of the position) came short last week, and the PM stepped in to comfort Mr Uttama, assuring that he will serve in the same party positions and portfolio. Now, more than 20 executives (Deputy PM Prawit’s wing, Sam Mitr (Suriya and Somsak) and Thammanat) have resigned. The party will hold a convention to nominate a new set of executives prior to the prospective cabinet reshuffle after the passing of loan decree in June.—The Bangkok Insight, Khao Sod, Matichon,
    • However, Mr Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, the party spokesperson and the secretary to the Finance Minister denied the news that Mr Uttama has resigned. There are no executives’ resignation as the news portrayed.–PostToday, Krungthep Turakij, Matichon, Daily News
  • Ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin had in interview with BBC Thai about his view on COVID-19. –Thai Rath
  • Yesterday, around 40 protestors gathered near Lumphini Park where late Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol, political activist for red-shirt protestors, was shot dead by a sniper 10 years ago. The organizer claimed to commemorate the disastrous event.—all media outlet
    • Today, police has apprehended the leader of the protest, accusing him of violating the emergency decree and risk the transmission of COVID-19. The police said they are seeking evidence and cannot reveal whether they are going to press charges against anyone.—Khao Sod
  • Investigation has been launched on a military personnel after an Instagram picture of this soldier seated on the Speaker of the House went viral.—all media outlet
  • An opinion piece on “Five things to watch for in post-lockdown politics”: student movements, government’s popularity, stability of the coalition government, opposition parties, and local elections.—Thai Enquirer
  • An opinion piece on “’Call for truth’ has laser intensity, Analysis: Anti-govt movement gathering steam”. The media interviewed three political scientists to view this symbolic gesture and its political momentum.—Bangkok Post
  • Former Ambassador James Wise’s article on Asialink, The University of Melbourne: COVID in Thailand: Failed and Foolhardy Predictions.

Business:

Recovery plans & Tourism

  • The Thai government looks to cement the country’s position as an advanced medical hub in Asia, which aligns with the Thailand 4.0 strategy and has been underway prior to the pandemic outbreak.  In April, the Board of Investment (BOI) announced additional measures to draw investments into the medical industry.  For example, manufacturers that adjust existing production lines to manufacture medical devices or parts are exempted from import duties on machinery this year.  BOI reasons that Thailand’s proven capability in managing the pandemic, as well as local technological capabilities and strong existing supply chains will accelerate investments in medical innovations and biosciences.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1917888/medical-hub-ambitions
  • Dhanin Chearavanont, Senior Chairman of Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, urges the government to ease the lockdown and position Thailand as a ‘safe haven’ to attract high-spending tourists.  Thailand could become a leader in this market by making the affluent tourists feel confident that staying Thailand is safer than their own countries.  The challenge is to minimise the risks associated with opening up the country to foreign arrivals.
  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry (MoST) is aiming high for 100 million domestic trips year to  generate revenue worth 1.12 trillion Baht.  MoST is counting on local travels for government meetings and incentives, as well as trips taken by those who redirect their overseas travel plans to domestic travels.  Within this month, the Association of Domestic Travel will present domestic packages for state agencies.
  • The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) contends that achieving MoST’s target this year would be difficult because tourism-related activities during this quarter is on hold.  TCT also anticipates demand will remain sluggish until July.

Others

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative will start paying the 5,000 Baht cash assistance to farmers tomorrow (15 May).  MoAC plans to pay a total of 50 billion Baht to 1 million farmers daily.  Source:  https://ch3thailandnews.bectero.com/news/187933
  • Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperative, Mananya Thaises, is pushing with the move to limit the use of glyphosate, despite the banning of paraquat and chlorpyrifos coming into effect on 1 June.  MoAC is also drafting a regulation mandating that manufacturers of hazardous chemicals must receive the ISO9001 and ISO 14001 certifications and their laboratories the ISO/IEC17025 certifications in two years.  Also in the pipeline are plans to limit, if complete banning is infeasible, the use of other chemicals that are deemed toxic to farmers and consumers.  Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/433122
  • Mitsubishi group of companies is offering a voluntary redundancy package to full-time workers who have worked with the company from 1-35 years and must not be over 54 years old.  The maximum compensation paid is 35 months.  Workers who will retire this year are not entitled to the package.  The group said underperforming car sales as a result of the pandemic has necessitated it to downsize its employees. Source:  https://www.nationtv.tv/main/content/378776384
  • A royal decree drafted to postpone the enforcement of most sections in Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) by a year will be tabled before the cabinet’s approval next week.  The legislation will defer most of the chapters in the PDPA act, except for chapters 1 and 4, which involve the appointment of the members sitting in the Personal Data Protection Committee and the establishment of the Office of the Personal Data Protection Committee.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1917660/pdpa-delay-decree-going-before-cabinet

Australia

  • Australian Ambassador gave an interview on Good Morning ASEAN radio programme this morning on Australian government’s response to COVID-19 and the Australian-Thai relations.–MCOT
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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