Advance Blog

March 1, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 1 March 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
8026,0316325,324 (at 97.28%)21,794
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
64 [28 (get tested in hospital) + 36 (active case finding)] 16 (in SQ) 624971 (+2)83 (+0)14,553
  • On Sunday, Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin volunteered to be the first person to take the first COVID-19 vaccine jab in the country. Others in the first batch included senior health officials and cabinet ministers. The PM just attended the event but was not inoculated as his age is above the recommended range.–Reuters
  • A media ran a piece on five things to know about COVID-19 vaccine roll-out program, including information on the King’s owned Siam BioScience, the sole producer of AstraZeneca vaccine in the Kingdom.—Asia Nikkei Review
  • Bangkok is rolling out its vaccine to its hospitals in high-risk groups.

Politics

  • ReDem:
    • Krungthep Turakij prepared the timeline of the inaugurated ReDem movement which witnessed the most violence from all sides as followed:
      • ReDem group called for a major gathering at the Victory Monument before marching to the PM Residence in the 1st Infantry Regiment, the King’s Guard.
      • 2.20pm Protestors began to occupy Victory Monument (Phayathai side).
      • 3.15pm Local police informed the public gathering act. Protestors yelled back. Tension escalated.
      • 3.30pm The marching was postponed from 4.00 to 5.00 pm.
      • 4.00pm Deputy Police spokesperson announced the gathering was illegal.
      • 5.00pm Protestors marched from Victory Monument to Vibhavadhi Rangsit Road.
      • 6.00pm The advance team reached Army Veteran Hospital (next to the 1st Infantry Regiment). Protestors climbed up container blocking the entrance to the regiment to cut down wires and moved the containers away. Protestors clashed with Riot Control Police.
      • 6.10pm Officials stationed in the Regiment announced the restriction not to enter the Palace perimeter (The Regiment was transferred to be under direct King’s control since 2019–Reuters). Protestors yelled back.
      • 6.30pm Riot Control Police advanced and captured some protestors from the Army Veteran Hospital. Protestors moved to confront with the riot police.
      • 6.45pm Some protestors threw firecrackers at the police.
      • 6.50pm Police retreated. Some protestors advanced and stand at 1-2 metres from the police.
      • 6.55pm A smoke is spotted within the police lines. Tear gas hit protestors.
      • 7.00pm Dr Tossaporn Serirak led the negotiation for the police to retreat. The police accepted. Tension deescalated.
      • 7.22pm Police gradually retreated to the hospital. Some protestors threw water bottles and firecrackers at the police. Police began using rubber bullet.
      • 7.50pm Protestors moved back to the entrance of the Regiment aiming to fulfill their mission.
      • 8.00pm Police started firing water cannon and tear gas at the protestors. Protestors were sandwiched between the hospital garrison and Sutisarn Intersection.
      • 8.30pm The vote on Telegram application (ReDem is operating on Telegram) indicated the adjourn of protest but some did not know the message.
      • 9.00pm Protestors confronted the police as the former yelled at police.
      • 9.20pm The police retreated while protestors threw water bottle at the police.
      • 9.30pm Firecracker sounds were heard several times. Protestors retreated. Some protestors advanced at the police.
      • 9.35 A major disperse occurred as police used water cannon and tear gas against protestors. Some protestors fled to a gas station nearby. Police came to capture protestors to Border Patrol Police Command.
      • 9.40pm Volunteer nurse asked for the ‘safe zone’ in front of the gas station.
      • 9.45pm Police Metropolitan Commander said the protestors has caused many police injured and the police had to use rubber bullet out of necessity.
      • 10.00pm The situation was still tense, and a lot of rubber bullet shells were found in front of the gas station.
      • 10.30pm Some protestors went to Din Daeng Police Station. Chaos occurred and fire was witnessed in front of the station.
      • 10.39pm A human rights civil society reported that at least 20 protestors were captured, including a 16-year-old student.
      • Midnight Riot Control Police secured in front of the Din Daeng Police Station and took control of the perimeter until 2.30am.
    • Wassana Nanuam, an Army reporter, reported that yesterday’s protest was retaliated with a ‘full crackdown’ was because the protest was in front of the Regiment owned by the King and is considered Royal perimeter.—Wassana Nanuam
  • Cabinet Reshuffle:
    • Deputy Public Health Minister and Deputy Democrat leader Satit Pitutacha gave an interview to the media regarding the current power play within the Coalition that the third largest party joined the coalition on the condition of charter rejig. The amendment is the ultimatum that if not fulfilled he personally thinks that the party should leave the Coalition.—Inside Thailand
  • Parliament dissolution
    • A vocal senator Wanchai Sornsiri came out to make his political predictions of major political changes by the end of this month of March. The changes could be in four key scenarios: major cabinet reshuffle, major shift in the coalition, change of the PM, and parliament dissolution. He said the ongoing delay tactics of the planned constitution could be one of the triggers the impact of one of these scenarios. In order for the PM to keep on with the status quo which favours his political power, dissolution might be the option to defer the Constitutional Amendment.—Inside Thailand
    • The secretary-general of the main ruling Pheu Thai Party came out to warn the government that now there is no rationale to dissolve the Parliament. He said should the PM chose that way, it will surely affect the process of the amendment. This will not be beneficial to the people.—Post Today
    • The secretary to the PM Office Minister Thanakorn dismissed the news on the dissolution and said the process of cabinet reshuffle is normal in politics.—Khao Sod

Analysis/opinion

  • A media hinted why the Chinese Ambassador to Thailand who has been called back to Beijing for many months has not been back to the Kingdom. The media mentioned about the latest Wang Yi visit to Thailand and asked for the establishment of Chinese consulates at the same numbers as the American has. The absence of Ambassador could tell, according to the media commentator, pretty much the state of international relations.—Inside Thailand
  • In the upcoming cabinet reshuffle, the PM is facing a great dilemma. Should the PM do not abide by the requests of MPs in the Palang Pracharat Party to appoint better portfolios for some main figures, the government may face a stumble when votes in the Parliament. However, if the PM bends to the requests of the PPRP and coalition parties and appoint politicians who might have mere power not potentials, this will put pressure on the government legitimacy. And could be the ‘end-game’ of the government.—Thai Rath
  • The recent waves of dissents from the PPRP main figures to defy the PM in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle might be read as a sign of recession in popularity of the PM. The PPRP politicians see the situation as prone to the cabinet dissolution.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

Australia

Others

  • Korean Embassy’s Deputy Chair of Mission, Jeon Joyoung, said Thailand needs to be more proactive in attracting foreign businesses, or else lose to Vietnam.  While Thailand was a regional hub in the 1980s, it might not be for much longer.  For example, Korean investors prefer Vietnam to Thailand when deciding to relocate its supply chain or open new factories.  Mr Jeon contends that Koreans prefer Vietnamese’s work ethics, noting that human capital in Thailand is lacking and there is often a shortage of skilled workers especially in technology-focused sectors.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Bank of Thailand revealed that the Thai economic conditions in January 2021 were affected by the new round of Covid-19, with the pace of economic recovery becoming more uneven, though the impact was smaller than the first wave last year.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism and Sports Ministry (MoST) aims to directly offer subsidies to tour companies that sell packages to the elderly to boost their liquidity.  Since the launch of the 5-billion-Baht elderly tourism package targeting those aged 55-75 is delayed due to COVID-19 resurgence, MoST said it would be more efficient if the subsidies are given to tour companies rather than to travellers.  The scheme targets was originally expected to inject 18 billion Baht into the economy. 
  • MoST also eyes introducing area quarantine for inbound travellers where they will be allowed to roam within designated areas of the hotels after 3 days of quarantine.  The area quarantine is anticipated to be in place until the vaccine passport mechanism approved by WHO.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Finance Ministry deliberates rolling out a financial remedy to 137,000 government contract employees to help with their living costs as their monthly pay are relatively modest, usually not exceeding 15,000 Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • To help businesses save cost, the Excise Department is considering freezing the third-phase hike of the excise imposed on beverages with sugar-based sweetener from its original date of October 2021. Excise Department also affirms it will not introduce any new excise taxes this year as businesses are rattled by the pandemic.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thailand’s cross-border trade (including transit trade) is projected to rebound to a growth of 3-6 percent this year following last year’s 1.7 percent decline, helped by COVID-19 vaccine and worldwide economic recovery.  Foreign Trade Department expects cross-border trade to amount to 1.36 – 1.40 trillion Baht, up from 1.31 trillion Baht in 2020.  The main risk factors for this year is the political uncertainties in Myanmar.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • New business registration topped 7,283 in January 2021, the highest since January 2019, driven by the upbeat sentiment on COVID-19 vaccine rollout and improving economic outlook.  January’s new registration rose by 4.91 percent year-on-year and surged by 121 percent month-on-month.  The top 3 sectors for new registrations in were building and construction, real estate and transport and logistics.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thailand’s Manufacturing Production Index (MPI) in January increased by 6.03 percent to 101.82 from 96.03 points in December 2020 due to improving sentiments.  Plastic bead manufacturing, which rose by 10.8 percent YoY, was among the industries that boosted the MPI due mainly to work-from-home guidelines that stimulated demand for packaging products.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Commerce Minister Jurin in consultation with the private sector has set sights for Thai export to achieve a 4 percent growth this year.  To this end, he has instructed Thai trade commissioners in 43 countries worldwide to proactively promote exports of various key items, recruit more local entrepreneurs to join its promotional activities and expand its network of e-commerce platforms abroad, particularly in agriculture and food sector.  Sources:  Thai Post Naew Na
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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