Advance Blog

June 10, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 10 June 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 4 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,125 cases. Out of the total number, 2,981 have been discharged from hospital;  86 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases travelled from aboard and have been in state quarantine. This is the 16th consecutive days that there is no report on the locally transmitted case.
    • Deputy army chief and deputy of the government’s committee on COVID-19 control, Gen Nathapol Nakpanit said the committee planned to lift the 11pm-3am curfew for 15 days as a trial basis, but the emergency decree will remain in force to ensure continued containment.—all media outlet
    • CCSA said in the press conference that this Friday they will decide to ease the 4th phase of restrictions. CCSA eyes to allow the re-opening of International Schools, cram schools. Restaurants and hotels will be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages for dine-in. Nurseries will be allowed to resume operations. Concerts will be allowed. Sport competition is allowed without audience. Night clubs is not yet on the radar. The significant addition is that people who intended to use the service will need to download the application “Thai Chana”, instead of checking-in/out to the platform via QR code.
  • In the Pride month, Thammasat University officially announced this week that it will now allow students to dress according to their chosen gender, effective on June 9. By the same token, the governor of the Eastern Chantaburi province has penned down provincial order to uphold gender equality allowing its officials to dress according to gender and sexuality.—all media outlet

Politics

  • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has dismissed speculation about a looming cabinet reshuffle.
    • Media under Nation Group argued that the ministers under Somkid’s wing are not favoured by MPs in the party because, the current leadership is not able to “look after” MPs well enough. The article revealed names who could potentially replace the Deputy PM Somkid, Finance Minister Uttama and Higher Education Minister.—Than Settakij
  • The issue of the abducted Thai self-exile activist is still on media attention:
    • The army has clarified on the allegation the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) pressed over Mr Wanchalearm includes Computer Crime Act and the NCPO summon order, but did not include lese majeste law.
    • Students from the Student Union of Thailand was caught by police yesterday as they were tying white ribbon, symbolising the enforced disappearance by state, at the Democracy Monument. They were about to charge with the violation of Emergency Decree with 2-year jail term, but later the police charged the students for violating the Act on the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country.
    • Cambodia’s national police force is reported to launch an investigation into the alleged abduction of Mr Wanchalearm despite earlier calling his disappearance “fake news”.
    • Two largest opposition Pheu Thai and Mover Forward Parties are joining hands to inquire the government on the issue during Parliament session.
    • Former government spokesperson and self-exile activist Mr Jakrapob Penkair posted on his Facebook Page that he is also one of the targets in this latest covert operation. He said the operation was from an undeniable order which requires no reasons or proofs. The operation was conducted by the same team as Thai activists exiled in Laos and Vietnam.
  • The rift in the main opposition Pheu Thai party are in media attention as media report minutes from yesterday’s party’s internal meeting. Some MPs from its North-eastern strongholds voiced their concerns of an earlier report of a ‘CARE’ group aiming to set-up a new party.—Prachachart Turakij
    • This morning, the Party leader, chief strategist the Opposition whip and some other MPs held a press conference at the Parliament denying the intra-party rifts. The Party leader said should the ‘CARE’ group eyes to set up a new political party, it is constitutional. MPs in the Pheu Thai Party remains with the party.—The Standard
  • The House will consider voting on an urgent agenda to set-up a committee to study the impacts of CPTPP.
    • Main opposition Pheu Thai Party chief strategist Sudarat posted on her Facebook page against the Thai membership to CPTPP, arguing that the trade pact would favour big conglomerates over common people.
  • Today, the Constitution Court will have a verdict over the status of the vocal main ruling Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjaka for intervening into the authority of state officials as he was recorded criticising a policeman who was assigned to be his bodyguard when he was in Phuket.—Issara

Business:

  • World Bank forecasts that the global economy will shrink by 5.2 percent this year – the deepest recession since the Second World War, with the largest fraction of economies experiencing declines in per capita output since 1870, according to its June 2020 Global Economic Prospects report.
  • World Bank has slashed Thailand’s GDP outlook for 2020 to a 5 percent contraction from 2.7% growth projected previously, as supply chain disruptions and lockdown measures have triggered an economic downturn.  Among the major economies, the largest downward revisions are in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, at 7.6, 8.0 and 7.7 percentage points below January’s forecasts.  However, Thailand’s economy is anticipated to rebound to growth of 4.1 percent in 2021, up from 1.3 percent projected previously.  Sources: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932128/world-bank-grim-on-gdp   https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/06/08/covid-19-to-plunge-global-economy-into-worst-recession-since-world-war-ii

Cabinet’s decisions, 9 June 2020

  • Cabinet approved a draft bill requiring foreign digital service providers that operate in Thailand to pay 7 percent value-added tax (VAT) on sales.  This is applicable to non-resident companies or platforms that earn more than 1.8 million Baht per year.  The Thai e-Commerce Association agrees with the move as it would create a level playing field for rival Thai businesses, which have been subjected to VAT payments.  Thailand joints other Southeast Asian countries in seeking to boost tax revenue from international technology companies.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1931976/taxing-internet-firms-gets-first-green-light
  • It approved the rates of financial assistance to be paid to 300,000 sugar cane growers nationwide under a 10 billion Baht subsidy programme.Every sugar cane farmer is entitled to 85 baht per tonne of their harvest, while those agreeing to not burn their sugar cane fields will receive 7 baht extra per tonne of subsidy.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932036/cabinet-approves-subsidy-rates-for-sugar-cane-farmers
  • Interior Ministry’s proposal for aid measure to waive the 40 Baht per room operation fee for one year, from 1 July – 30 June is approved.  Hotel operators brands the remedy insignificant and demands a revival of the 5,000-baht domestic tourism rebate.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932132/hotel-operators-slam-fee-waiver
  • Cabinet acknowledged Thai Airways’ filing of debt rehabilitation petitions in Switzerland, Germany and Japan and plans to submit a similar request in the United States.  The petitions will protect the airline against the seizure of its assets, including its aircrafts being impounded overseas.  The cabinet was informed that Thai Airways has 12 billion Baht in debt last year and that its total outstanding debt is 244 billion Baht.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932044/thai-swoops-to-protect-planes-from-seizure

Tourism

  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will discuss with hotels, airlines and online travel agents the idea of swapping customers’ international bookings for domestic ones.  To this end, the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) aims to convert 1 million outbound tourists to travel domestically instead, hoping to raise 20 billion Baht in tourism revenue.  TTAA expects international travel to resume in October, when the ‘travel bubbles’ between Thailand and low-risk countries are in place.  Under this arrangement, Chinese tourists will be the first to visit Thailand, followed by Japan.  Thailand’s outbound tourism market will restart at a slower pace.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932156/travel-agents-hopeful-of-domestic-tourism National News Bureau fb page, 9 June
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) will make a formal recommendation to the Thai government to join negotiations for CPTPP’s accession as the pact could boost the nation’s international trade in the post-pandemic period.  However, whether or not the government makes a final decision to join the pact depends on the outcome of the negotiations.  JSCCIB reached its stance after it conducted a one-month study on the CPTPP jointly with the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. 
  • FTA Watch is demanding that JSCCIB clarify its stance.  FTA Watch said that when they last met with JSCCIB on 29 May, representatives from the Federation of Thai Industries agreed with the NGO that the CPTPP text related to pharmaceutical patent linkage will adversely affect the local pharmaceutical industry and access to medicine.  Trade negotiation expert at the FTI is quoted to have said that CPTPP’s ambiguous text will lead to interpretation conflicts.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932096/industrial-group-supports-thailand-joining-cptpp   https://www.efinancethai.com/LastestNews/LatestNewsMain.aspx?ref=A&id=TVAwR2dYak1zYkE9   https://www.bangkokbiznews.com/news/detail/884150

Australia

  • A Thai activist submitted a copy of the Australian court verdict on Mr Thammanat Prompao, Deputy Minister of Agriculture to Office of the Narcotics Control Board.—Siam Rath, NationWeekend, ThaiRath, Manager
  • Australian Education Minister denied the Chinese authority warning that Australia is unsafe for Chinese students, saying Australian is a multicultural society which is warmly welcoming  international student.—Thai News Agency
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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