Advance Blog

December 14, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 14 December 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesDischarged from hospital
+284,2373,940 (at 92.99%)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalisedDeath toll
1 (medical staff)27 ( in SQ)23760
  • Over the weekend, a huge annual concert “Big Mountain” made headlines as it was dismissed by the Nakhon Ratchasima governor.
    • On 13 December, the Governor penned down concert venue closure using authority under Emergency Decree and Communicable Disease Act. The provincial Communicable Disease Committee cited the requests by some who said the organisers are not taking enough measures to prevent COVID-19.
    • Later the organisers tried to appeal the closure order, yet the Governor upheld the order. However, the performance kept on going.
    • This morning the Governor has ordered the police to prosecute the organisers for violating the order.—Thai Rath
    • Online users are questioning why the other ‘Winter Festival’ in the area can be held.—New TV Or how come the World Heritage event in Ayutthaya can be held with sightings of people not wearing masks.–Matichon
    • Some users made an observations that in the concert, the anti-establishment three fingers salute was seen extensively, the same goes to the song that was used against the PM was well received. This might be the reason why the authority closed down the event.—Amarin TV
  • The CCSA spokesperson said in the press briefing that the later big events can be proceeded under the ‘new normal’ procedure. The spokesperson called for people’s cooperation to keep the pandemic at bay.—NBT Live
  • HM the King gave a rare structured Q&A to the royal volunteer at the 11th Infantry Regiment (King’s Guard). The King said “I’m just like other human beings. On some days I feel despondent. On some days I feel sad. On some days, I almost don’t want to fight the bad things. But it’s all human nature”. We should think about the country and think about how the institution of the monarchy and the people are inseparable. We need only look at what His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great accomplished during his 70 years [reign]. Our younger generations may have forgotten about him.” —Bangkok Post HM the King said he has been treated unfairly by rumours and fake news since he was the Crown Prince, but it is a normal thing. The King said, he has no need to proof himself of anything. –BBC Thai
  • The perilous PM 2.5 has returned to Bangkok as a Bangkok Metropolitan Administration office reported that there are 56 areas which reported more than 50 micrograms per cubic metre, the Thai authority threshold.—Air4Thai

Politics

  • The issue of censure debate is back on:
    • On 13 December, the spokesperson of the Move Forward Party said that in the upcoming censure debate, the Opposition aims to tackle the PM as the prime problem. And Deputy PM Prawit and Interior Minister Anupong will also be grilled.—Khao Sod
    • Today Opposition Pheu Chat Party leader said the Opposition has not discussed on the idea of submitting a motion for the vote of no confidence. But he expects the Opposition will file the motion in January 2021 after the motions related to the Constitutional Amendment has been finalised. He said the apart from the PM, the Deputy PM Wissanu and top diplomat DPM Don are also on the list.—Matichon
    • Pheu Thai secretary-general said that the issues of BTS Green Line auction and the PM residency in the house provided by the Army will be part of the debate.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Secretary to the Ministry of PMO Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said the Coalition is ready for the censure debate without any concern. He, however, concerns over the Pheu Thai intra-party conflict.—Daily News
  • The leader of the third largest Opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party came out to support the protestors’ bid to amend Article 112. The former Police Chief said the solution might be to differentiate those who defame or insult to be prosecuted under Article 326 Defamation and those who threatens to be prosecuted under Article 112.—Krungthep Turakij
  • A local German media reported that the King may not be returning to Germany after spending a prolonged period in Thailand, citing diplomatic sources. The article quoted local newspaper wrote that “local jewellers and gourmet food shops regretted his absence since ‘twenty accompanying businesswomen’ had also left and the significant revenues they generated had dried up.”—Nikkei Asia
  • Self-exiled dissent academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun posted on his social media that he has been followed and stalked by a suspicious man following orders of someone.—BBC Thai; The Nation Thailand
  • The local people from Southern Chana District in Sogkhla stands firm (for the fourth day) in their demands for the government to halt the Chana industrial estate project, the largest in Southern Thailand.–Prachatai
    • Yesterday, the protestors met with assistant to the minister to the prime minister’s office, Suporn Attawong, but the protestors turned him down, citing they will negotiate only with the Deputy PM Prawit.—ThaiPBS World
    • In their fourth day of camping, the security apparatus placed containers on a bridge to the Government House to block the protestors. The PM is reported to take a detour in order to get to work at the government throne.—Naew Na

Analysis/opinion

  • The PAO Executive election in the Northern city of Chiang Mai is the prototype to measure the political capital Red shirt chairperson Jatuporn Prompan has. Pheu Thai Party and self-exiled former PM Thaksin are supporting one candidate; while, former Red Shirt juggernaut is endorsing the other. The PAO Executive election in Chinag Mai is no longer about the candidacy per se, rather it is the tug of war between pro and anti-Thaksin fractions which certainly included the government.—Khao Sod

Economic

Akara Gold Mine

  • More than 300 Gold Mine Association members and former employees of the shuttered Akara mine convened, calling for the government to re-open the mine as a New Year gift.  They demanded justice for the over 1,000 gold mine employees who faced economic hardship after they were laid off after the government ordered the closure of the mine 3 years ago.  The gathering was infused with religious fanfare and ended without incident.  The arbitration process between Kingsgate and the Thai government is expected to be completed in July 2021.  However, an insider source indicated that Kingsgate is currently negotiating with the Thai government to reach a win-win solution.  Source:  Post Today Manager Online

Others

  • Commerce Minister Jurin threatened to move Thai commercial counsellors in 58 offices worldwide back to Thailand if they fail to boost export.  Commercial counsellors and directors of Office of Thai Trade Centres are instructed to function as salespeople and assist businesses in reducing obstacles to exports.  Minsiter Jurin ordered MoC’s Perm Sec Boonyarit and Director-General Somdet of International Trade Promotion Department to roll out new policies and KPIs for each commercial counsellor.  Commerce Ministry’s plans include organising 343 marketing activities domestically and internationally, as well as pursuing FTAs with the EU, UK, Eurasian Economic Union and the European Free Trade Association.  Source:  Bangkok Post Krungthep Turakij Thai Rath
  • The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) contemplates introducing short and long-term measures to tackle the rising household debt, despite the NPL ratio being at a low level of 3 percent.  The measures will be targeted and will vary with the people’s ability to service debts, for example, converting credit card debt into long-term debt to give consumers purchasing power.  Source:  Siam Rath Matichon
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB) expects the Thai economy to see a -7.8 percent GDP contraction in 2020 and a 4 percent growth in 2021, the latter of which is over 1 percent lower than Southeast Asia’s average.  Overall, Southeast Asia will see encounter a -4.4 percent GDP decline this year (revised down from -3.8 percent in September), whereas East Asia is set to grow by 1.6 percent on the back of faster than expected recoveries in China and Taiwan.  Source:  The Nation
  • Anusorn Tamajai, former dean at Rangsit University’s Faculty of Economics, estimated that the second wave of Covid-19 outbreak would incur a loss of tourism revenue from 14.1 billion to 16.9 billion during the New Year.   Research houses estimated that Thai consumers will cut their spending significantly and those living in Bangkok will spend around 30 billion Baht, which is below the average spending of the past two decades.  He projected that the Thai Baht will strengthen further, as will the gold price.  Source:  The Nation
  • The role of the Board of Investment (BOI) in 2021 is to support economic restructuring and attracting Thai and foreign investors to upgrade industries and services with technologies and innovations.  The BOI is currently improving the smart visa scheme for overseas technology freelancers and will submit the revised scheme for the cabinet’s approval this month.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Local hospital owners and real estate developers are foraying into the healthcare and wellness tourism sector that is made lucrative by the pandemic.  Wellness tourism has been generating a substantial revenue of up to 409 billion Baht for Thailand in 2019.  To date, the Board of Investment has introduced incentives in line with Thailand’s endeavour to become a medical hub in ASEAN.  Tourism Authority of Thailand also aims to utilise the country’s advantage in the public health system and technology to revive the battered tourism industry.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Excise Department is deliberating on restructuring the excise tax regime for cigarettes to strike a balance between public revenue, farmers’ income, public health and tackling illegal cigarettes.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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