- A France-based, Reporters without Border (RSF)’s survey indicated that Thailand slipped in press freedom index to 140 out of the 180 countries, falling into ‘difficult situation’. Many speculated that it might be because the post-election changes are not visible; or due to the very active crack-down of the Digital Economy Ministry’s anti-fake news centre. In this year index, within ASEAN, Myanmar ranked 139 and Cambodia ranked 144th.
- A former US Marine working as a language instructor was detained by police yesterday after allegedly sparking a bomb scare near the US Embassy in Bangkok. Security personnel cordoned off the area and examined the object, which turned out to be a parcel containing a Thai boxing doll, three batteries wrapped in paper and an empty water bottle. No dangerous items were found.–Bangkok Post, Daily News, Naew Na, Thai Post
- A document of the armoured vehicle procurement by The Army Ornament Department was published by media. The 4.5 billion THB budget signed on 20 April sparked criticism, mostly about how could the army procure equipment in such a time of COVID-19 crisis.–all media outlet
- Breaking: This morning, Army Chief Apirat said the procurement document is just planning, and that it is not going to use the 2020 budget. The planning could not be deferred because it related to the US congressional process, implying that the armoured vehicle procurement scheme will continue.–Naew Na
Updates related to COVID-19:
- Thailand’s cabinet approved a second automatic visa extension for foreigners for three more months yesterday, in a bid to prevent long queues at immigration centres and stem the spread of the coronavirus. Foreigners whose visas had expired since March 26 will be permitted to stay until July 31 without having to apply for an extension. –Reuters, Bangkok Post
- The PM said after the weekly cabinet meeting that he will not rush to lift COVID-19 bans and restrictions, which is scheduled to end on April 30, citing that the people’s health and safety are the dominant factors for government’s concerns.–all media outlet
- The Department of Livestock Development and the Thailand Equestrian Federation has acquired African Horse Sickness (AHS) vaccines in an attempt to stop the fatal equine disease from spreading further.–Bangkok Post
- Opposition key members will hold a briefing about its call for a special House session tomorrow to inquire the government’s handle of COVID-19 crisis.–all media outlet.
- Cabinet’s Decisions, 21 April 2020
- Assistance package for farmers are not yet approved
- The number of recipients for the 5,000 Baht cash-handout is expanded from 9 million to 14 million, raising the budget from 45 billion to 210 billion Baht. Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30386494?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=internal_referral
- Each ministry is approved to allocate 10 percent of its fiscal 2020 budget (estimated to be worth 100.395 billion Baht) to a central fund managed by PM Prayut to rehabilitate the economy. The bill will go before parliament’s consideration on 28 May. Currently, the central budget has 2 billion Baht left after allocating 92 billion to combat the pandemic. Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30386494?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=internal_referral
- Energy Ministry will waive and lower electricity bills for households from March to May nationwide. Among the measures is free electricity for households whose consumption does not exceed (150 units kilowatts/hour), an increase from 90 units. Estimated to cost 23.6 billion Baht, the measure will cut household expenses and will benefit 22 million consumers. Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1904580/cabinet-gives-nod-to-slash-power-bills#cxrecs_s
- Application for the cash handout closes today at midnight
- More than 1 billion applications rejected for the cash-handout have submitted their appeals online. MoF will embark on onsite visits to verify these appeals. Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1904645/over-1m-appeal-cash-handout-rejection
- Ministry of Commerce is positive Thailand’s export will not decline by 8-10 percent as the Chinese economy recovers, the Baht depreciates and Thailand maintains its strength in food and agriculture. Thailand’s March export rose 4.17 percent, the highest growth in 8 months. Most notable is the growth in computer export of 17.59 percent for the fourth consecutive months. For the first quarter of 2020, Thailand’s export grew by 0.9 percent YoY and Thailand has a trade surplus of 1.6 billion USD. Source: http://www.tpso.moc.go.th/sites/default/files/inter_trade_monthly/2563/mar_63/2.ppt_exportmiinaakhm_63_final_pr.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3CrYIGJKGXt7GtFmYYB_HwlQ7dGDLeMgMxlFrv8oHzukrPPEnyA8tGvac https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1904620/state-upbeat-on-full-year-exports
- According to NESDC’s poll conducted from April 9-14 on 8,929 respondents nationwide, some 88 per cent (7,894 respondents) said that they had not received any aids from the government. Only 12 per cent (1,035 respondents) saidthey had received the help. Source: http://www.nationthailand.com/news/30386526?fbclid=IwAR1Ug5X8e8uiEPw3iTPK42SpSRpSwcFuFgTEbEs8sHXP_vjNBaqWFEcs75w
- Thailand’s top 20 business leaders agreed to assist the government with projects to lift the country out of the pandemic. Among the enlisted billionaires are representatives from Charoen Pokphand, True Corporation, Energy Absolute, B.Grimm and Bangkok Dusit Medical Services companies. Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1904470/moguls-ready-to-help-thailand
- Gold’s sales volume has halved in two weeks as gold price hit a one-week low for two consecutive days. Last week, gold price reached a 7-year high. Gold price has increased by 6,000 Baht since the beginning of this year. MoC data reveals that gold outbound shipments for the first two months of 51,994 kg more than tripled the import volume of 16,304 kg. Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1904560/gold-sales-volume-halves-as-price-peak-passes
- Thailand’s retail oil price will be in a downward trend but is unlikely to fall below zero like in the United States this Monday. The fluctuation of the US oil benchmark may have an insignificant impact on Thailand’s retail oil price, given that demand for oil may rise in the coming weeks as the lockdown eases in some provinces. To date, all six refineries in Thailand have reduced capacity of refined oil output and there is an oversupply of crude oil and refined oil. Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1904625/no-negative-oil-prices-in-thailand
- Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai will attend a special videoconference meeting about Asean with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on 23 April 2020. Both sides will also discuss cooperation to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as guidelines for economic recovery after the crisis. –Bangkok Post
- Thai Enquirer ran an opinion article on “While foreign press criticized Chinese dams for our drought problems, Thai language media praised Beijing’s help”, questioning the influence China has over Thai media outlets.
- Australian Ambassador interview with Matichon Weekly, the third episode is uploaded online here.