Advance Blog

May 10, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 10 May 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,63085,0051,151/ 38955,208 (at 64.95%)56,1421,296,440 (+22,774) (= 1.764 %  of the population)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,622 [1,321 (get tested in hospital) + 301 (active case finding)]8 (in SQ)29,376 [9,428  in field hospital]19,574 (+565)421 (+22)24,339513,454 (+43,400) (=0.655 % of the population)
  • A CCSA committee headed by the head of National Security Council made an observation this morning that the surge in Greater Bangkok Area is deescalating in active case finding group. Meanwhile, the infection rate nationally is on decline.—Thai Rath  
  • Thai Chamber of Commerce, though was put on hold by the government to sort out vaccine by themselves, discussed with JFCCT (Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand) to procure alternative vaccines. Thai Chamber of Commerce asked each foreign Chamber of Commerce to get vaccine information used in their country and has oversupplied of vaccine. Once they got more information from the JFCCT, they will bring this to the Thai MFA asking the ministry to use diplomatic relations to get the oversupplied vaccines to inoculate Thai citizen.—Krungthep Turakij
  • As mainland government vowed to vaccinate their citizen globally, a media with close ties to Chinese Embassy inquired Chinese chargé d’affaires to Thailand and got the confirmation that “Chinese and Thai authorities have discussed for several times. Today, Thai authority informed us that though Thailand is in vaccine deficit, considering the bilateral relations which is like the same family, Chinese citizen in Thailand will get vaccinations in late May”. The media said that Chinese authority has asked Thailand to spare a part of 500 thousands doses of SinoVac that Chinese government has given to Thailand to inoculate Chinese citizen in the Kingdom.–PPTV
  • The COVID-recovered Samut Sakhon Governor revealed that there are still some state officials allowing migrant workers to get smuggled into Greater Bangkok areas as the industrial province found some factories to have illegal migrants tested COVID positive.—Prachachat Turakij
    • CCSA spokesperson said that since early 2021, there have been more than 10 thousands illicit entries into the Kingdom and that the CCSA will focus on this movement of people as potential new cluster.—Manager Online
    • Immigration Police affirms that the authority has been keeping close eyes on the border and illicit immigration.—Thai Rath

Politics

  • The unity of the coalition remains strong as ruling Democrat leader Jurin made a clear statement that they third largest ruling party will not leave the coalition. The statement came after an MP came out to request the party to leave the government considering the unethical questions that might rise from sharing the power with Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat. The party leader said the minister’s issue should remain in the main ruling party problem.—Krungthep Turakij, Prachachat Turakij
  • On the other hand, the unity within the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) seems to be shaken:
    • With the constitutional Court verdict to steer clear of Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat statuses in politics, observers can expect the power struggles in upcoming annual PPRP convention. It is widely reported that Thammanat wants to have the PPRP secretary-general seat and thus, securing him a ministerial or Deputy Interior portfolio. The ploy, however, is not a bed of roses as he will face an opposition from the other faction in the party. The seat might be lost to Deputy Labour Minister Narumon who has just entered politics and hence, less corruption-related legal cases.—Prachachat Turakij
    • The sentiment against the Minister may have an impact on former Police Chief Chakthip to run for the Bangkok gubernatorial seat as Thammanat (PPRP Deputy head) has been assigned to be the campaign manager of the ‘independent’ candidate.—Krungthep Turakij
  • An MP from the main Opposition Pheu Thai Party held a press briefing on the US Embassy imports of Pfizer vaccines to the Kingdom with Thai authority has no knowledge of the issue. The vocal MP said that the embassy violated Thai laws. The MP believed that there are some people outside the embassy got the vaccines.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Politicians under the former economic tzar Somkid jatusripithak wing who left politics and PPRP due to intra-party conflicts joined hands in making political comments:
    • Former Energy Minister and PPRP secretary-general Sondhirat recommended the government to follow the Biden administration in compensating restaurants closed during lockdowns and setting up a fund to get the Service sector going.–Matichon
    • Former PM Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakul has expressed his concerns that Thailand may suffer a long recession. He voiced recommendation to the PM asking the health professionals to take charge of the situation. He said the current measure is not beneficial economically.–Matichon
  • The criminal court is going to decide whether to approve bail requests by three main figures of the student-led protests. Parit ‘Penguin’, Panupong ‘Mike’ and Ammy faith will be decided by the court tomorrow as they have been detained without trail dur to the protests on 19 eptember last year.–Matichon

Analysis/ opinion

  • With ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin made a constant appearance to a Q&A session on Clubhouse, it is believed that Thaksin is in the process of rebranding the main Opposition Pheu Thai Party. The rebranding which is highlighting Thaksin as professional administrator came after former Chief Strategist left the party. With Thaksin joining the cutting-edge application like Club house, it could be read as an attempt from Pheu Thai Party to compete in gaining votes from the fresh Move Forward Party and resuming its alpha status in the Opposition.—Thai Rath, Krungthep Turakij
  • In the third surge, the PM is trying to take the lead on every committee making sure everything is under his ‘single command’ scheme. This perilous move will be a test of PM capacity in taking control of the situation of the most severe surge thus far.
  • An international security pundit from Chulalongkorn University outlined nine crises surrounding the Prayut administration and said that without the ‘special force’ the PM will not be in position. The nine crises are
    1. The vaccine crisis which arose from the government decline to join COVAX scheme and resulted in getting insufficient vaccines;
    2. The economic crisis as the prolonged surge could make the middle class become lower income people, should there is the fourth surge;
    3. The poor and unemployed crisis due to the lack of social safety net;
    4. The legitimacy crisis from the questionable constitution and unity within the coalition;
    5. The lack of confidence crisis due to the lack of competency in curbing the pandemic;
    6. The protests crisis which may see people joining the protest from economic than political rationales;
    7. The Justice crisis from the Thammanat case;
    8. The younger-generation crisis from inter-generational conflicts and younger-generations seeing no economic prospect;
    9. The Myanmar crisis: should the anti-coup movement in Myanmar is successful, there will be a transnational democratic wave to drive military out of politics in Thailand.—Prachachat Turakij

Economic:

CPTPP

  • The cabinet granted the International Economic Policy Committee headed by DPM Don Pramudwinai another 50 days, due on 25 June, to make a recommendation on whether Thailand should join CPTPP.  DPM Don dismissed the claim that the government had secretly consented for Thailand to accede to the CPTPP.  Originally, the Committee was required to submit its recommendations to the cabinet on 25 April following a 90-day extension from earlier this year.   The Committee decided to seek further extension as the 8 subcommittees needed more time to consult with stakeholders in order to deliver comprehensive recommendations.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • DPM Don provided the following timeline regarding CPTPP: 1) The Committee will wrap up all aspects of the studies within June; 2) the cabinet consider the Committee’s recommendations in July; 3) if the consensus is for Thailand to join the negotiation, the government must acknowledge the various issues and negotiation tactics and 4) once the negotiation is completed in August, the results will be reported to the parliament for final consideration.  The DPM emphasized that the negotiation is not an immediate commitment to join the CPTPP as the negotiations for any trade pacts usually last for many years.  Source:  Matichon
  • Charoen Pokphand Group had issued a statement denying its involvement in the CPTPP following allegations on social media that the trade deal is the conglomerate’s brainchild.  Source:  Thansettakij

Tourism

  • Thailand plans to waive its mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors to 10 provinces, including Bangkok, from 1 October onward and is seeing to it that at least 70 percent of the residents in each province is inoculated.  The government will first push ahead with reopening Phuket through the sandbox model on 1 July.  The new plan could draw 3.5 million tourists this year, generating 298 billion Baht in revenue.  Source:  Reuters
  • Hospitality market analyst firm STR disclosed that the resurgence of COVID-19 and slow vaccination rollout are reducing the likelihood of Thailand reopening to international tourists during the peak season.  Implementing the Phuket Sandbox model on 1 July is ambitious.  It advised Thailand to consider two strategies to restart international travels, such as the Maldives Model wherein isolated islands offer testing protocols together with accelerated public vaccination.  Another option is for the government to offer tourism industry direct financial support to retain employment, similarly to Australia’s Tourism Aviation Network Support program and Singapore’s Jobs Support Scheme.  Source: Bangkok Post

Others

  • The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) noted that if new pandemic infections do not slow down within 7- 10 days, the government might need to impose a lockdown similarly to last year to curb the spread.  If imposed, the lockdown would incur an economic loss of 200 – 300 billion Baht monthly.  It would cause Q2 GDP to contract and the government’s fiscal injection would be timely.  The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said the manufacturing sector has been coping with the third wave of infection well, partly because of the pickup in export as global demands increase.  As such, manufacturing has replaced tourism and services sectors as Thailand’s economic driver.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Ministry of Finance (MoF) expects the government’s 6 new stimulus packages worth 240 billion Baht to boost GDP by 1 percent since it could generate spending of 400 billion Baht into the economy.  This could help Thailand’s GDP growth to surpass MoF’s forecast of 2.3 percent.  Among the packages is the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme, which will be finalized by the cabinet this week.  The package offers cashback e-vouchers at a rate of 10-15 percent of spending with a maximum limit of 7,000 Baht per person.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Ministry of Commerce granted approvals to 15 foreign companies under the Foreign Business Act (FBA) to operate in Thailand in April, mostly from Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.  Their investments totaling 3.08 billion Baht generate employments for 277 Thais in sectors such as petroleum extraction, logistics and mass transit services, advertising and marketing.  From January – April 2021, some 75 foreign companies were given approval to operate in Thailand with an investment value of 7.96 billion Baht.  Most are investments in Thailand’s target industries and infrastructure projects, such as the high-speed rail.  Sources:  Prachachat Turakij  The Nation
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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