Advance Blog

November 16, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 16 November 2020

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesDischarged from hospital
+13,8753,721 (at 96.03%)
Local transmissionFrom aboardBeing hospitalisedDeath toll
0Japan9460

Politics

  • The political tensions are escalating for the upcoming Parliament debate session for the Constitutional Amendment this Tuesday and Wednesday.

o   Student-led protestors are vowing to surround the Parliament from 3.00 pm on 17 November until the Parliament endorsed the people’s draft (iLaw).

o   Thai Bhakdhi (Loyalist Thai) Group was also planning to gather in front of the Parliament from 9.00 am to oppose politicians who are joining hands with foreigners to amend the Constitution.Today at a press conference, the group said they will just submit a letter to the Senate spokesperson, and that all activity will end before noon.—Krungthep Turakij

o   Yesterday, the Chairperson of the coalition Democrat MPs said that the party will hold a meeting later today to calibrate the party’s stance. The main figure of Democrat Party gave an interview this morning that there should not be a ‘surprise’ by not endorsing the charter rejig proposals as it would destroy all trust the protestors have on the government.—Inside Thailand

  • There are seven proposals from three main actors for the Constitutional Amendment. These are the main content of the stances by each actor.
Proposals/actorsCoalitionOppositioniLaw
Section 159 nominating the PMXOnly MP can be the PMOnly MP can be the PM
Section 256 Setting up the CDA200 (150 from election+50 indirectly elected)200 (all from election)200 (all from election)
Section 270 and 271 Senate power to overlook the national reformsXOO
Section 272 Senate to vote for a PMXOO
Section 279 legalising the orders issued by the junta NCPO, including its amnestyXOO
Reintroducing two-ballot systemXOX
ReservationSection 1 and 2Section 1 and 2X
Cancelling NCPO’s 20 Year National Strategy, Senate hand-picked by NCPO, Sourcing the new executives of Independent organisations, all local authority executives must come from electionsXXO
  • Last weekend, there were unprecedented political developments:

o   On Saturday, Bad Student and other organisations joined hands in the ‘Mob Fest’ occupying the Rachadamneon Avenue to voice the subaltern’s concerns which have been peripheralized.

o   The protestors had a minor clash with the police as they were trying to wrap the Democracy Monument with a big white cloth protestor had written their wishes. The police said it is looking to prosecute those who wrapped the cloth over the monument for destroying historical site.–ThaiPBS

o   As the motorcade carrying their Majesties scheduled to open the extension of a Subway line passed by, protestors turned their backs, gave the three-fingered “Hunger Games” salute, and sang the national anthem in the latest show of disaffection with the monarchy.–Reuters

o   Parit ‘Penguin’ was back on stage on Saturday saying the three demands are still on going. The student protest leader then addressed to the King directly by saying “As you had said earlier that Thailand is the land of compromise, I would say no justice, no compromise. And there will be no compromise, if the three demands are not met”.

o   HSH Prince Chulcherm Yugala who was freshly appointed the special officers under the King’s Guard Section commented on the student-led protest’s activity to wrap the monument, saying that if these protestors are not respecting the monument, then there is no use of it, just demolish the monument as it is impeding the traffic.—Khao Sod 

                                 I.        The Democracy Monument is a part of series of architecture the People’s Party which ended absolute monarchy has built. There have been reports of those buildings/monuments being vanished or demolished.–Prachatai

o   On Sunday, main figures of the protests, excluding Anon Nampa, were back on stage at the Eastern province of Rayong pressing three demands and questions the benefits of the government flagship project of Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).—Thai Rath

o   On the opposite side of the political aisle, Taya Teepasuwan, partner to the Education Minister wrote on her FB Page calling for unity. She said that their Majesties are modern monarch who have been comprehending and close to the people. She said this is the new page of Thai history.–Matichon

  • As the newly debut song by dissent RAD (Rap Against Dictatorship) “Reform” got a warning by the police that they are examining should there is content that is against the law.Should there is any, it will be removed from the internet system and the band will be prosecuted.—Thai Rath The video has now got more than 2.5 M views.
  • Super Poll publishes its opinion poll on half-half co-payment scheme and political popularity, asking which party they are choosing, should there is an election today:
PartyBefore half-half co-payment schemeAfter half-half co-payment scheme
Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP)10.927.7
Coalition (Bhumjaithai, Democrat, Chatthai Pattana)5.75.8
Pheu Thai Party9.32.5
Move Forward Party13.02.1
Other parties which introduce the ‘real new politics’ way59.616.8
Other1.545.1

Economic:

CPTPP Parliament Committee

  • The CPTPP Parliament Committee presented its report to the parliament on 12 November following a 120-day study from 11 June – 8 October 2020.  The committee concluded that Thailand is not ready to join the CPTPP and needs more time to prepare its budget, policies and human resources in preparation for accession process.  Should the US return to the CPTPP under the stewardship of its new President, it is unlikely that the same set of deals tabled under TPP will be negotiated or enforced as Thailand will object it.    Source:  Prachachart Turakij

Strategic Partnership and ASEAN-Australia Summit

  • Australia’s and Thailand’s Prime Ministers on 13 November signed a Joint Declaration on the Strategic Partnership via teleconference.  This has raised their bilateral relationship into a “Strategic Partnership” by strengthening defence cooperation and trade.  Relevant agencies in Thailand and Australia will soon consult over developing a Joint Plan of Action which will lay out a plan and concrete activities in line with the Joint Declaration. The announcement came ahead of the virtual ASEAN-East Asia and ASEAN-Australia summits that will run from 14-15 November.  Sources:  Bangkok Post Thansettakij Kom Chad Luek The Nation Thai Government website All Media
  • The 2nd ASEAN-Australia Summit took place on 14 November, in which Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed 2 areas of cooperation to propel ASEAN’s economic growth.  These include cooperation in Bio Circular and Green Economy initiatives, in addition to digital economy, such as through the ASEAN-Australia digital trade and smart cities.  Australia also vowed its support to assist ASEAN economies weather through the COVID-19 economic storm.  Source:  Manager Online Daily News

Ten for Ten

  • US Ambassador Michael George DeSombre and his counterparts from Australia, Britain, Germany and Japan proposed 10 steps for Thailand to crack the top 10 in the World Bank’s global ease of doing business index.  Australian Ambassador Allan McKinnon PSM noted that Australia welcomes the return of the US to CPTPP.  Sources:  Thai Rath The Nation Prachachat Turakij newspaper, 14 November  Matichon Siam Rath
  • Pheu Thai Party urged PM Prayut to heed the 5 Ambassadors’ Ten for Ten proposals and swiftly digitalise all of the of the government’ systems.  During PM Prayut’s reign, Thailand’s ease of doing business plummeted and despite some improvements, its ranking has not returned to the pre-coup level.  The Ambassadors’ public denouncement is said to reflect PM Prayut’s failure in managing the country during this period of economic slump, particularly in helping the SMEs, addressing NPLs and currency appreciation.  Source:  Matichon Weekly
  • In response to the Ambassador’s ten for ten media roundtable, Prime Minister Prayut assured the ambassadors that the Thai government will consider all the proposals, some of which are being implemented.   The Thai government will streamline them by reducing the red tape and attempt to drive the country towards the digital economy.  Sources: Post Today Naew Na Thansettakij

RCEP

  • The 10 ASEAN members and their 5 dialogue partners signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the 37th ASEAN Summit hosted virtually by Vietnam on 15 November.  RCEP is expected to be enforced in mid 2021 as each of the 15 nation will have to follow legal processes and internal steps for implementation.  Sources: Thansettakij Matichon 
  • Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister announced that the RCEP signing will revitalise Australia’s relationship with China.  Their relationship deteriorated following Australia’s call for an investigation on China as the source of COVID-19 outbreak, which led to China imposing a ban imported Australian agricultural produce worth several thousands of USD.  Sources:  Thansettakij Reuters MCOT Channel
  • RCEP is the world’s largest regional FTA, encompassing nearly a third of the world’s population and GDP.  Its signing coms as Southeast Asia nations experience uneven recoveries from the pandemic.  Whether RCEP changes regional dynamics in favour of China depends on the US’s response.  Sources:  Bloomberg  Asia Nikkei Review
  • Commerce Minister Jurin said RCEP will increase Thailand’s market access to trade and investment in 14 countries.  This is poised to benefit 4 groups of Thailand’s exported products including agricultural products (fruits and fishery); processed food and fruits; electronic products; services (construction, health, entertainment, films) and retail.  Source: The Standard

ASEAN/World

  • Super Poll publishes its opinion poll on Major Powers and domination over Thailand. On the question whether Thai people is afraid of the Belt and Road Initiative and its domination over Thailand, 84.2 said they are afraid of that; 15.8 said they do not have concerns. –Super Poll
  • Director of academic affairs of the Asean Studies Centre at Chulalongkorn University recommends Thailand to find ways to deepen and enhance our cooperation with China, India and the US. The economic pundit said Thailand should stick to the motto: friends to all; foes to none.—Bangkok Post

Analysis/opinion:

  • A media problematises the narrative of a clandestine financial support behind the protestors. It asked should there is any organisation or political party to financially support the protestors in Bangkok and in other provinces for months, their wallets would have been dried out by now. The author pointed out to the crowdfunding using by protest organisers to transfer 24.75 THB (reference to B.E. 2475 (A.D.1932) when absolute monarchy ended in Thailand).—Khao Sod    
  • A media analyses the Constitutional Court verdict on the status of the PM on 2 December will not be as bad for the PM as many had expected. The media says PM Prayut’s case is not like the late former Samak case whereby he received the benefits from private companies and that during General Apirat’s term as the Army Chief, he had introduced a new regulation that retired military officer could stay in the army’s provided housing if the officer is still working for the benefit of the country. The media said Constitutional Court is a political court, whereby political calculus is still very dominant.—Siam Rath
  • A media speculates that the requests by junta appointed Senators to move the voting time whether to endorse the amendment drafts from evening to noon time in order to avoid being pressured by the student-led rallies is a sign that the Senates and the inner circle of the government will turn down the proposals the protestors are pushing for.— Thai Rath
  • Chinese descents have been dominating the economic and social strata in Southeast Asia, and more so in Thailand. In the most recent cycle of conflicts, there are the good and the bad Chinese. The line is on allegiance to the Monarch. The logic behind this is the belief that Chinese immigrants prosper due to the kindness and generosity of Thai kings. Therefore, gratitude and loyalty are owed.–ThisRupt
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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