Advance Blog

April 28, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 28th April 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports seven newly confirmed cases, the total of 2,938 cases. Out of the total cases, 2,652 patients have recovered and total 54 death toll.
    • Yesterday, Thailand reports nine newly confirmed cases, the total of 2,931 cases. Out of the total cases, 2,609 patients have recovered and 52 death toll.
    • A 59-year-old woman has swallowed a bottle of rat poison in front of the Finance Ministry, after failing to get 5,000-baht cash relief.
    • Thailand will extend a state of emergency over the coronavirus until the end of May, but will consider easing some restrictions on businesses and public activities.
    • The unlocking will be in phases
      • Phase 1 would be either on May 3rd (Sunday) or May 4th (Monday)
        • The opening will include what can be done and what can’t be done such as 1-meter social distancing, measuring temperature, etc.
        • Things that will open would be
          • Fresh market
          • Restaurants and food areas without air-condition
          • Barbers/saloons and pet grooming shops
          • Sports centers (parks etc)
      • The 2nd opening is on May 17th
        • Department stories and only certain segments of the department stores
        • Sports centers such as golf courses etc
    • The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) on Monday decided to extend the ban on all incoming flights for another month. There are some few exceptions, including the government’s allowed flights to only bring Thais, at a designated number, back home.
    • The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will today submit to the cabinet for approval a proposal for all four public holidays in May to be postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 concerns. Breaking: the cabinet decided not to postpone the public holidays
    • The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) is working to make its own Favipiravir — the antiviral medicine which has been touted as a treatment for Covid-19. Thailand has been importing Favipiravir, mostly from Japan, to treat Covid-19 patients with moderate to severe symptoms since January.
  • The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) on Monday said that it expects rain over the next two months will help to refill many of the country’s nearly empty reservoirs. The director-general of Royal Irrigation Department (RID), said orders have been given to reservoir operators up and down the country to prepare for rainstorms in May and June which he hopes will alleviate hardship caused by the summer drought, particularly in the upper region.—all media outlet

Politics

  • The rift within the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party has become more obvious when the Finance Minister and the leader of the party Mr Uttama accepted that there have been big name in the party told him to resign.
    • At the centre of gravity, Deputy PM Gen Prawit who was reported earlier on an attempt to seize the party’s leader seat remains silent. He replied, we have not had any party meeting yet, this will be done after the COVID-19 situation eases.
    • Mr Somkid said Mr Uttama and other cabinet ministers including Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong and Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Minister Suvit Maesincee were doing their jobs to help alleviate economic hardship brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • In spite of rejections from the party’s key person, a conversation made via the party’s Line group chat between Suchart Chomklin, chairman of the party’s MPs and Chon Buri MPs who is expected to be on the portfolio in the next cabinet reshuffle, and another MP indicated a power struggle has been brewing inside the PPRP.
    • Media reports that at the CCSA meeting yesterday, the PM looked at the face of Deputy PM Somkid, the government economic Czar, while making a comment about the cabinet reshuffle by saying that “there is no cabinet reshuffle. I, as the PM, is the sole person to decide on that. There must not be any negotiation.”—Krungthep Turakij
    • Media reports that there are five factions within the Palang Pracharat Party:
      1. Gang of four, former four economic ministers from the junta government. Finance Minister Uttama, Energy Minister Sontirath, Higher Education Minister Suvit, and Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister for Political Affairs Kobsak, including with some Bangkok MPs and MP Watanya, whose partner is Mr Chai, an executive from Nation Group media.
      2. The three friends, veteran politicians since the Thaksin government composes of Industry Minister Suriya, Justice Minister Somsak, and Mr Anucha.
      3. Twenty MPs group: MPs from the Central provinces and Northeastern provinces.
      4. Former People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC): MDES Minister and Education Minister
      5. Mr Thammanat’s clique with 15 MPs—The Reporters
    • Breaking: Deputy Minister for Agriculture Thammanat personally visited Deputy PM Somkid this morning. He denied to comment on the meeting.
  • New Palangdharma Party is urging the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) to appeal last year’s ruling in a money-laundering case linked with the Krungthai Bank (KTB) loan scandal, in which Panthongtae Shinawatra, son of the ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin.
  • Government whips rejected the opposition’s call for a special House session to debate financial aid for those affected by COVID-19, saying the agenda is not urgent.

Business

CPTPP

  • Today Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit is withdrawing the proposal for Thailand to join the CPTPP to the cabinet.  The move came after Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul reportedly joined the opposition to the proposal. 
  • The minister’s aides claim that the CPTPP is being pushed by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and the economic cabinet, although the DPM has denied this.  DPM Somkid said he only asked Commerce Ministry to study the pros and cons of Thailand joining the CPTPP, but the decision to submit it for cabinet’s approval rests entirely with Commerce Ministry.  Sources: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1908700/cabinet-split-over-trade-pact#cxrecs_s         https://www.bangkokbiznews.com/news/detail/878089?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral&utm_campaign=economic
  • Commerce Ministry’s Department of Trade Negotiations voiced support for Thailand to join the CPTPP and seek new trade partners in the wake of the Covid19 outbreak.  A study of pros and cons by Bolliger & Company, commissioned by DTN, showed that CPTPP could boost GDP by 0.12%, investment by 5.14%, and exports by 3.47%.  If it doesn’t join the trade pact, Thailand would also suffer opportunity loss in trade, investment and connectivity to regional supply chain.   It could also lose competitiveness to Vietnam and Singapore. However, Thai farmers and civil society organisations are concerned about CPTPP’s impact on intellectual property provision, food security and medicine access. 
  • DTN said that the decision to participate in the CPTPP remains a long way off because it needs cabinet’s approval.  The next step is for Thailand to send a letter to New Zealand (CPTPP’s depository) and sets up a committee to negotiate rules and conditions.  Any decisions would then need the parliament’s approval.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1908810/chief-negotiator-insists-cptpp-good-for-the-country

Stimulus Package

  • Applicants who are granted the 5,000 Baht handout but are found to be ineligible, such as the 900 state-owned enterprise officers and freelance workers, are urged to waive their applications through the online system.  They must return the payment and refrain from applying for cash handout in the following month.  Source:  Thai Government facebook page, 27 April
  • From 8 – 29 April, MoF had paid the 5,000 Baht cash handout to 7.5 million people, worth 38 billion Baht.  Some 940,000 applicants have cancelled their registrations; 340,000 have appealed for their applications to be reviewed and 1,675 have waived their applications
  • MoF has reached out to 6.3 million applicants to obtain additional information for verification purpose.  To this end, a team of 23,000 MoF officers and state-run banks have been conducting nationwide site visits since 23 April to verify the eligibility of the applicants.  Source:  https://www.mof.go.th

Others

Australia

  • Thai Rath published a story about the Thai Airway flight between Thailand and Australia. Thai Rath quoted HOM saying “this special flight is quite difficult in terms of travel document and coordination. However, with the coordination amongst parties, this flight has become successful. There are still some Australians in Thailand who voluntarily stay in Thailand due to the visa extension until 1 July 2020. Australians who returned to Australia will need to be in state-quarantine. I would like to thank all concerning parties.”—Thai Rath
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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