Advance Blog

September 14, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 14 September 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports two newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,475 cases. Out of the total number, 3,212 have been discharged from hospital (at 95.31%); 105 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thais returned from the US and Qatar and have been in state quarantine since.
    • On Friday, Thai health authority confirmed another coronavirus infection had been detected in the country. This is the second locally-detectedcovid-19 patient after long absence. Authority is investigating on people who might be in contact with the Uzbek professional soccer player.—all media outlet

Politics

  • There are two different polls asking people’s opinion on the most recent political developments:
    • Super Poll showed the survey result that 85 percent of the interviewees believed that the student protests have clandestine support from politicians and foreign countries. And that 92.2% of their samples indicated that the student protests will even worsen the struggling economy.—Super Poll
    • Nida Poll’s test result on whether Thai politics should still have the Senate, 38 against 31 percent thinks that the Senate should remain in politics for check & balance purposes. Regarding the Opposition Charter’s amendment draft to scrap Senator’s power in voting for the PM, more than 75 percent of the samples agreed with the proposal; while, around 22 percent disagreed.—Nida Poll
  • Drums are beating for the upcoming major protest on 19 September:
    • As Thammasat University did not allow students protestors to use the venue, protest organisers vowed to use the site, regardless of the permit from the university.
    • Online sites are sharing an urgent order from Chonburi Governor sent to university rectors, calling for a meeting with security forces on the content of the upcoming protest which are deemed ‘inappropriate’. –Khao Sod
    • A vocal Senator gave an exclusive interview that letters had been sent by state-appointed provincial governors to university heads, summoning them to meetings ahead of protests planned on Sept. 19, citing the sensitive content that will be discussed on stage needs to be understood properly.–Reuters
  • Media quotes a source in the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) that with Finance Minister’s fresh resignation, there are attempts by different groups to allocate the new cabinet line-up to be presented to Deputy PM and PPRP leader General Prawit for the PM consideration soon. By this equation:
    • Deputy PM Supattanapong will also take the vacant Finance portfolio.
    • The Energy portfolio will be given to Industry Minister Suriya.
    • Deputy Finance Minister Santi will take Suraiya’s Industry post.
    • Deputy Labour Minister Narumon will take Santi’s Deputy FM seat.
    • There is still one Deputy Minister slot left for the PPRP to allocate to their MPs.—Krunthep Turakij
  • A source inside the coalition told a media that a cabinet reshuffle is likely unless a suitable candidate is found by the end of September. It is reported that PM has told his aides that he still prefers to fill the position with someone from outside politics and qualified for the position.—Thai Enquirer

Business:

Akara Mine

  • Kingsgate Consolidated company announced that its subsidiary, Akara Resources, is granted permission by the Thai Government to sell high-value gold and silver ‘sludge’, which is secured at Chatree Gold Mine, to a Thai refinery to be processed into fine gold and silver. The sludge contains approximately 4,750 ounces of gold and 34,800 ounces of silver, and is valued at around AUD14 million.  Akara Resources has agreed terms with a Thai refinery to process the sludge pursuant to new legislation requiring gold mined in Thailand to be refined in Thailand.  The Thai Industry Ministry refused to give interviews on this matter. 
  • The hashtag #Akara Gold Mine has been trending on twitter since late August following the news that the Thai government has allocated 111 million Baht to cover the costs incurred by the arbitration process between Thailand and Australia’s Kingsgate Consolidated company. Source:  BBC Thai  Kingsgate press release
  • Civic groups in Phetchabun province have congregated to protest against Akara Resources company’s application for a special licence to explore gold and silver in two districts of the province.  The request was made through Richphoom Mining, a subsidiary of Akara Resources.  The Department of Primary Industry and Mines said that Richphoom Mining had recently re-submitted its application in a follow-up from its first application lodged 17 years ago.  The Department urged the public to voice their opinions in 30 days and insisted it had not approved of Richphoom Mining’s request.  Industry Ministry noted that the special license is for gold and silver exploration only, not for mining.
  • Richphoom Mining also made the same license request in Chantaburi province, which similarly met strong opposition from local civic groups.  Source: Bangkok Post Prachachat Turakij

Others

  • The domestic tourism subsidy campaign, We Travel Together, needs another major revamp despite generating 3 billion Baht for the local sector, as just 17 percent of 5.05 million registrants used the benefit over two months, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • According to Thai Hotels Association (THA), some 1 million hotel staff were laid off while demand for labour in the hospitality sector shrank by 75 percent due to the pandemic.  Currently only around 50 percent of hotels have resumed operation, but with low occupancy rate wherein the minimum occupancy rate necessary for the hotels’ long-term survival is 30 percent.  THA urged the government to extend loans with 2 to 3-year repayment term and more accessible stimulus packages.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thai businesses are optimistic about the recovery of the domestic steel industry if the government gives better protection to local manufacturers and pursues the megaprojects in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).  However, the government must promote the use of local steel and iron in these projects.  The government must also protect local players from steel imports from China, since Chinese circumvention had started since 2010.  Thai players are also facing competition from Malaysia and Vietnam steel imports.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Industry Ministry is drafting plans for Thailand to speed up its transition towards Industry 4.0 since the pandemic has accelerated the use of digital technology.  These include building more digital infrastructure and drawing foreign investors to relocate their production bases to Thailand due to Covid-19 crisis.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thailand is planning to ban the import of plastic waste in January 2021, however, the Pollution Control Department has objected the move, saying that the domestic supply of plastic waste is not enough to feed the kingdom’s industrial needs.  To this end, the PCD has asked for a 650,000 tonne plastic waste import quota for 2021, much to the dismay of 62 organizations that emerged to object the postponement.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Office of Trade Competition Commission is likely to rule on the CP-Tesco deal in October.  The vetting committee is consulting related and affected parties, such as representatives from CP Group, the Commerce Ministry and private companies such as small and medium-sized enterprises that could be hurt by the deal.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Australia

  • Taste of Australia is on campaign at Big C Supercentres. HOM and Australian Minister-Counsellors attended the event.—Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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