Advance Blog

September 1, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 1 September 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports five newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,417 cases. Out of the total number, 3,274 have been discharged from hospital (at 95.82%); 85 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thais returned from the Philippines. This is the 99th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
    • Authorities of the provinces along Thai-Myanmar border are stepping up its
  • After receiving a report of the investigation submitted by a chairman of the special committee set up to probe into the scandal from dropping the legal cases against Red Bull heir, the PM admitted that there was negligence from some law enforcement, but it is not fair to blame all against the entire justice system. Today, the PM will bring this up to the cabinet and will brief the press on the further decision.—all media outlet
  • The private golden line connecting mega mall on the Thonburi side of town and other locals is scheduled to open its operation from October.—all media outlet

Politics

  • The Royal Thai Navy decided to propose to the House Budget Committee to cut the budget allocated for the procurement of two Chinese submarines for the year and move the money to curb the economic effects from COVID-19, as the public opinion rose against the procurement.—all media outlet
    • And according to a Japanese media, this procurement has been regarded as an attempt to build better ties with China, since Thai authority has been embargoed to procure arms supplies due to coups from Western suppliers.— Nikkei Asian Review
  • The House Budget Committee has approved the budget for the government to use for legal arbitrary process in the international Akra mines. The arbitrary turns political as PM Prayut as the junta leader of the 2014 coup used his Article 44 of the interim constitution to close-down the operation of Akra mine, citing the environmental effects the people were facing. The Constitutional Court has made a verdict when PM Prayut got nominated for the premiership in 2019 election under Palang Pracharat Party that the PM during junta period is not considered a state official and is legitimate to be PM candidate. The legal case or fees that arise from the case should then be treated as Prayut’s individual responsibility, not the government’s. But the PM said yesterday that one should not mix the statuses of his together.–Manager

Business:

Kingsgate/Akara Mine

  • A House committee vetting the FY21 budget bill voted to cut the 111 billion Baht budget set aside by Industry Ministry to cover the legal fees in a dispute with Kingsgate by 12 million Baht.  Seri Ruam Thai Party MP and budget committee member Rewat Wisarutwech said he is seeking to have the budget scraped entirely and has asked to address the issue during the second reading of the budget, which will take place from Sept 16-18.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • An opinion piece in the Bangkok Post asserts that The Kingsgate case is just an example of how the Prayut regime’s ability to use the law to its own advantage is coming back to bite it.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Pesticide Banning

  • Farmers back a move by Agriculture Minister Chalermchai to review the ban on paraquat and chlorpyrifos, suggesting that a limit, rather than a ban, be imposed on the use of these pesticides.  Farmers pointed to the ‘double standard’ designed to benefit big businesses, referring to the fact that paraquat and chlorpyrifos can still be imported while the Public Health Ministry and Department of Livestock Development still used them.  Yet MoPH Minsiter Anutin reiterated through a press conference that the ban will remain in place to protect public health. The deadline for farmers to hand over their stocks of both chemicals passed on August 29.  Source:  The Nation

EEC

  • The Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO) calls for the government to allocate 120 million Baht in FY21 to support the EEC’s labour development program that will focus on vocational students. EECO will collaborate with state agencies and private companies to sharpen the skills of 8,500 workers next year as Thailand lacks workers with qualifications to adapt to digital technologies and serve the needs of foreign companies.  The EEC Office estimates some 475,668 workers will be needed over 5 years between 2019 and 2023.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The EEC Policy Committee is still confident that investments in the government’s flagship infrastructure project will meet the target of 1.7 trillion Baht in 2022, despite the pandemic.  Investment in the EEC has already reached 900 billion Baht, or half of the total target.  Source:  The Nation

Others

  • The Digital Economy and Society Ministry plans to roll out free WiFi services for urban communities, starting with 10 communities from 1 October.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • The Bank of Thailand (BOT) revealed that the Thai economy continued to improve in July, but urges the government to allow foreign travellers to enter Thailand to stimulate economic growth.  BOT, Tourism and Sports Ministry and the NESDC also cut their projection for foreign arrivals this year to 6.7 million from 8 million, which will lead to a 0.5 percent decline in Thailand’s GDP.  The 2021 foreign arrival forecast is revised down to 12 million from 16 million.  BOT said government must strike a balance between tourism measures and outbreak containment, for which new infections of 20-30 cases per day are acceptable.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1977743/bot-warns-of-tourism-meltdown
  • Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is creating employment opportunities by training an escort team to facilitate the visit of business travellers in Thailand.  The team will consists of health personnel, medical assistants, visitor assistants and hotel representatives.  The first batch is will complete the two-day training course on 20 September, for which there will be 20-30 health personnel, 40 medical assistants and 60-80 visitor assistants certified by the agency.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • At the RCEP virtual negotiation last week, RCEP ministers are keeping the door open for India’s return, which would solidify the Australia-India-Japan network in the Indo-Pacific and promote economic ties to strengthen regional cohesion against Chinese interference.  While India’s immediate return is unlikely, behind-the-scenes diplomacy is continuing and neither ASEAN nor its key trading partners like Japan and Australia have ruled out Delhi’s participation.  The regional FTA could pave the way to recuperation from the pandemic.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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