Advance Blog

January 15, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 15 January 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, total confirmed cases from clusters
18811,450608,288 (at 72.38%)7,213
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field hospital/  quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding among migrant workers
81+73 (active case finding among migrant workers) + 13 (entering from Myanmar)13 (in SQ)3,093553 [526 reported by BMA yesterday + 27 by CCSA today]69 (+0)3,260
  • The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin assured the people on the reports that some of the vaccine to be brought into Thailand does not have satisfactory effectiveness by saying that he will be the first person to be vaccinated.—PPTV
  • In a bid to resolve the issues which caused the new wave of COVID surge in the Kingdom, the PM has ordered the establishment of two probe committees on gambling dens and illicit entries of people from neighbouring countries. There is, however, no timeframe for the committee to report its finding.—Krungthep Turakij

Politics

  • The Opposition is set to file the censure motion within today. The secretary-general of the main Opposition Pheu Thai Party said he got a request from the secretary to the House Speaker to file the motion within the third week of January, a week ahead from the early plan. The sec-gen of the party did not reveal who will be grilled in the motion.—Thai Rath
  • More development regarding Article 112:
    • After a police apprehended Sirichai “New” Natueng, a university student by the police inside the university on lese majeste charge, he got released on bail and was apprehended again.—Prachachat
    • The lawyer of the student said to Reuters that the charge was placed for defacing the King’s portrait.—Reuters
    • Within less than 24 hours after the police apprehended  Sirichai, the police call Chayaphol ‘Dave’ Danothai to acknowledge the lese majeste charge. The police charge Dave on the same case New is being alleged. 
    • The issue is that Dave is in Hat Yai and was not in the area where the police said he was guilty of. The 2nd year university student is scheduled to report himself to the police today.—The Standard
    • After reporting to the police, it turned out that Dave did not have any summon or arrest warrant. The police called Dave in as witness.—Daily News
    • The Royal Thai Police spokesperson said that 
    • Second largest opposition Kao Klai party is set to file a draft to amend Article 112 in the next Parliamentary session. The secretary-general of the party said that the fresh introduction of the article has charged more than 40 people, including two minors. This would, according to the Party, jeopardise the monarch-people relations in a democratic society.—Thai Rath
  • South Korean-based May 18 Memorial Foundation for human rights has officially announced Anon Nampa, human rights lawyer and one of the protest main figures, as the winner of its annual prize given to the human rights-related activists around the world. Anon received the 2021 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (GPHR) for his continual fight for injustice and human rights. —Matichon
  • The royalist ‘Thai Bhakdhi’ Group is set to set up its political party, apparently named ‘Thai Bhakdhi Party’. Media reports that the secretary-general of the royalist political movement has registered the name with the Election Comission’s party registrar. The movement needs to have 500 members and one million THB initial fund to establish a party.—Krungthep Turakij
  • After a rumour that former Pheu Thai chief strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan will join hands with the ruling generals to set up a new political party, this morning the former Public Health Minister posted on her social media underlining her stance in not giving in to dictatorship. She said since the Bloody May incident in 1992, she has always been fighting against dictatorship and will not make herself a stepping stone for dictator to extend their tenures.—Sudarat Keyuraphan
    • The rumour has it that in the next election, there will be no main ruling Palang Pracharat Party as it is the nature of such ad hoc party creating merely to extend the tenure of coup makers. The spotlight is now on Deputy PM Gen Prawit and Sudarat who is setting up a new political party after she left Pheu Thai. It is reported that General A. who is very close to Get Prawit has a close connection to Group Captain N. who is a close aide to Sudarat.—Natethip 
    • The editor of a political magazine revealed that General N. is General Noppadol Inthapanya and Group Captain A. is Anudith Nakornthap. Gen Noppadol’s wife is sister to Anudith’s wife.—Thanapol Eawsakul

Analysis/opinion

  • An online magazine popular among people in their 20s-mid 30s has listed the international community engagements with the recent student-led protests. The ‘Ten for Ten’ press conference on 14 November was put into the political struggle of the protestors. The article said the press conference with Ambassadors of Australia, Britain, Germany, Japan and the US on recommending Thailand to boost its trade and investment performance, though sound apolitical, is unprecedented from traditional diplomatic protocol. The article went on to portray how US pressured Thailand even more via American Senate support for democratic struggle in Thailand.—Way Magazine
  • The upcoming municipal election in Nonthaburi will be a battle field between the Progressive Movement and freshly resigned former Pheu Thai Chief Strategist Sudarat. In the latest PAO executives election , though Progressive movement lost the election, it was a close gap. After the Progressive Movement announced that it will have the names for the city mayor, the current mayor, who has long-standing ties with Sudarat, swiftly announced an unprecedented initiative in using local budget to supply vaccine for the locals. The current mayor of Nonthaburi city said he got the idea from Sudarat, the former Public Health Minister herself.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Media interviewed the current Bangkok Governor Pol Gen Asawin who was appointed by the junta under the supreme laws Article 44 whether he eyes to run for the gubernatorial seat. He replied by saying that does the media want him to run? The governor election has not been announced yet but he is keeping himself fit for the run. When asked whether he will send his son who is currently serving as the BMA spokesperson to run, he said his son is not at the minimum age required for the position. The current governor revealed that the former Police Chief Pol Gen Chaktip has made a call to him asking whether Pol Gen Asawin will run, the current governor said he has not made up his mind.—Thai Rath Inside ThailandBangkok Post
  • For the former Nation TV big fans, the familiar faces are returning on air from 1 February as the hardline right wing anchors who left the TV channel late last year due to restructuring have finally settled on their new platform. The Top TV will be broadcasting on satellite channel 77 and on online platforms (Facebook and You Tube). The group of anchors said they discussed with Digital TV Channel 18 (owned by Daily News newspapers) and PPTV but could not cut the deal.—Thai Post Isranews AgencyNew Na

Australia

  • A veteran media Sondhi Limthongkul tried to make connection between the prisoner transfer of Australian national from Iran back to Australia with the Akra Mining Arbitrary. Sodhi said in the international deal that Iran sent an Australian national back to Australia and Thailand sent two Iranians back to Iran, what did Australia give to Thailand in order to make the deal happen? After seeing a report quoting a source in the Government House that the case will likely be resolved by Australian Akra mining withdrew the arbitrary case against the Thai government, Sondhi said the mystery is solved. The settlement of the arbitrary is the final puzzle in the deal. He also added that the mastermind of the deal is Syedsulaiman Husaini who is the leader of Sunni in ASEAN and Thailand who arranged the deal with two Thais and coordinate with Australian authority.–Sondhi Talk (from 5.09 min-14.00 min)

Economic:

Akara Mine

  • Local authorities are trying to convince civic groups in Chantaburi province to allow Richphoom Mining company to explore gold and silver in the province.  Richphoom Mining, a subsidiary of Akara Resources and Kingsgate Consolidate Ltd, last year applied for a special licence to explore gold and silver in Chantaburi, only to meet strong opposition from civic groups.  Local authorities reasoned that Richphoom should be granted the exploration license because it does not cause any damages to the environment.  An insider source observed that the government’s support to issue the exploration license to Richphoom coincides with Kingsgate’s negotiation with Thai government regarding Akara Mine as part of the TAFTA arbitration process.  It remains unclear if Kingsgate will drop the charges against Thailand this month, but negotiations between both sides to reach an agreement seem to be progressing well, according to the same insider source.  Sources:  Prachachat Turakij Matichon  Weekly

Tourism

  • The Thai government approved 6 golf resorts, including those located in Kanchanaburi and Nakhon Nayok provinces, where foreign arrivals can enjoy the game and roam within the resort premises as they undergo the 2-week mandatory quarantine.  The golf quarantine is the latest effort by Thai authorities to lure foreign travellers amid a new wave of Covid-19 infections after earlier offers of special long-stay visas evoked a lukewarm response.  Tourists planning trips to Thailand will need visas, medical and travel insurance and a certificate of entry.  The pandemic has devastated Thailand’s tourism industry, which netted more than 60 billion USD in revenue from about 40 million visitors in 2019 and accounted for about a fifth of the nation’s GDP.  Source:  Bloomberg
  • Tourism and Sport Ministry said each foreign visitor will be charged a tourism fee of 10 USD (300 Baht) per visit.  This is in line with the revised National Tourism Policy Act, which authorises the ministry to impose tourism fee for use in developing local destinations and providing insurance coverage for foreign tourists.  Implementation will begin after the announcement is published in The Royal Gazette.  Tourism Ministry forecasts Thailand had welcomed 6.7 million international tourists in 2020 and projected 10 million foreign arrivals for this year.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • With the resurgence of COVID-19 slowing down hotel bookings, hoteliers are delaying their decisions to join or renew the Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ)/Alternative Local Quarantine (ALQ) program.  Public Health Ministry has yet to provide concrete guidelines for hotels to withdraw from the program, or to reactivate their ASQ or ALQ status.  The ASQ-ALQ Club of Thailand reported that overall occupancy rate for ASQ hotels this month had dropped by 30 percent to 6,000 -7,000 rooms per day from its peak of 9,500 rooms in December.  The tepid response is expected to continue until February, with a 30-40 percent decline in forward bookings.  Source:  Bangkok Post

US-China Trade War

  • The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) expects the US’s decision to impose anti-dumping duties (AD) on car tyres exported from Thailand to severely impact the Thai automotive and agricultural sectors.  FTI said the AD, which is set at 13.25– 22.21 percent, stems from the US-China Trade War.  Following the trade war, many Chinese tyre companies have moved here to use Thailand as their new production base.  Of the 7-8 tyre factories operating in the EEC, 5 have relocated from China. The AD will also affect the demand for rubber latex; a raw material used in the tyre production.  Kasikorn Research Centre notes that the strongest impact felt in export of small pickups as the AD will make Thai tyres less competitive than those from Indonesia, Vietnam and Canada.  The US is also the largest exporting market for Thai tyre.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Board of Investment (BOI) expects Thailand’s automobile industry to continue growing after 2 automakers from China, GM and Great Wall, have decided to invest in Thailand with the goal of making the country their production bases.  BOI anticipates that a few more Chinese auto-component manufacturers will also begin investing in Thailand.  This corresponds well with BOI’s scheme to lure FDI in a bid to make Thailand the production hub of EV and plug-in hybrid cars.  Most recently, Great Wall Motor had embarked on a campaign to promote EVs by conducting a survey with the local National Institute of Development Institution (NIDA) on Thai motorists’ perceptions of the technology.  Sources:  TNN Thailand Bangkok Post

Others

  • University of Thai Chamber of Commerce’s (UTCC) studies reveals that Thai exports could grow by 3.6 percent with a total value of 237 billion USD if COVID-19 vaccine has enough supply to cover 40 percent of the world population this year; oil price is high and RCEP is enforced.  If the vaccine is not available this year, Thai exports could shrink by 0.81 percent to value at 227 billion USD.  Another major risk is the shortage of shipping containers, which could cause Thai export to shrink by 2.2 percent as logistics cause will soar by 3-5 times.  UTCC called for the government establish a fund to ease shipping cost burden for exporters and negotiate to secure more containers to Thailand.  UTCC is also monitoring the policies of incoming US President Joe Biden on Thai trade, as well as the implementation of EU-Vietnam FTA and CPTPP.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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