Advance Blog

October 16, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 16 October 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports four newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,669 cases. Out of the total number, 3,467 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.49%); 143 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 59. The newly confirmed cases are returnees from Nigeria, the UK, Ethiopia, and Singapore. All have been in state quarantine since.

Politics

  • Regarding Flash gathering yesterday
    • Last afternoon, a number of protestors [tens of thousands (Reuters); thousands (AP); at least 5,000 (Nikkei Asia Review); 8,000 (Royal Thai Police)] joined hands in a flash gathering to occupy CBD Ratchaprasong intersection from 4.00-10.00pm daring the Declaration of a Serious Emergency Situation in Bangkok, which bans the gathering of more than 5 people. The latest gathering which consisted of high school and first jobbers have called for another gathering at the same venue from 5.00pm.
    • Apart from Bangkok, there were flash gatherings at Chiang Mai, Uttaradit, Songkla and Khon Khaen provinces.
    • The Police said that everyone who joined this illegal protest will be prosecuted, warning students to think of their future. Six protestors who are employees of the audio company which supplied audio kits for the protestors.–ThaiPBS
    • The Police Chief has issued an order preventing three types of vehicles to enter the designated area with a serious emergency. There are vehicles which are equipped with speakers; portable bathroom vehicles; and supply vehicles.— Channel 7
    • Main protest leaders, including Anon, Penguin and Rung were not allowed to get bail and are remanded at prisons throughout the country.
    • International and local NGOs issued statements in defiance of the declaration of serious emergency: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Campaign for Popular Democracy-CPD and Cross Cultural Foundation
  • The economic effects of the prolonged protests are reported differently based upon different media:
    • Media quotes private sectors’ concerns over the protests on the economic battered in pandemic.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Thai Chamber of Commerce University’s rector said should there is more protestors, the confidence would be jeopardised. The prolonged protests will mean Q4 economic growth will be at 1-1.5 % from the expected 2-3%.—Manager Online
    • A street food vendors near protest venue said that regardless of protests, they hardly made their end meets.–Matichon
  • A discussion on the national reconciliation government is back on:
    • Second largest coalition Bhumjaithai leader Anutin gave an interview turning down the idea of the national government, saying that it is undemocratic as there is no check and balance. He did not reject the report on Deputy PM Prawit calling for 11 Parties (from both sides of the aisle) to meet at 1st Infantry Regiment HQ last night. The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister only said “I was not invited.”—Wassana Nanuam
    • Third largest coalition Democrat leader Jurin gave an interview said that he has not heard the rumour. The Deputy PM and Commerce Minister said, in principle, the national government is only feasible in wartime.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Fourth largest coalition Charthai Pattana Chief Strategist Varawut said he has not heard of this, the reporter should ask his sister who is the Party’s leader. The Natural Resources Minister said that the national reconciliation government is feasible once there has been adequate discussion from all sides.–Matichon
  • Today, the inner circle of cabinet is scheduled to approve a resolution of the freshly imposed Emergency Decree for at least one month. The PM appeared at the press briefing with key figures of the government reiterate the need for emergency decree saying the situation “is not normal anymore”. He said it is only security forces which were abused, not the other way around. He said imposing curfew option is on the desk.—ThaiPBS
  • Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Buddhipongse together with acting secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), called an urgent meeting with all internet service providers (ISPs) in the country to discuss guidelines on what they can do or cannot do under the state of emergency.—Nation TV
  • After the motorcade of Their Majesties the Queen Suthida and Prince Dipangkorn encountered with an episode of shouts by protestors as the motorcade went through protestors (and three police commanders were transferred for the episode), two protestors are being charged with Criminal Code Section 110 Violence Against the Queen [Whoever commits an act of violence against the Queen or Her liberty, the Heir apparent or His liberty, or the Regent or his/her liberty, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of sixteen to twenty years.—translation from UNODC]—Manager Online, The Guardian
  • After the crackdown at 4.00am Thursday, the PM welcomed Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Government House. The Chinese top diplomat has pledged to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine as public goods and assured that Thailand will be one among the very first nations to get the vaccine. The two also discussed the government’s flagship project of Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Thai PM thanked Chinese President’s pledge in taking the concerns of countries in Mekong subregion on the river’s level into consideration.—Than Settakij and Naew Na The official press release by Thai MFA is here.
    • A media reported on a rising speculation that the Thai government’s sudden show of force may also be linked to a visit to Bangkok on Thursday by Wang Yi. And juxtapose the Prayut’s government latest measure in curbing protestors with that of Beijing’s strategy. “The introduction of emergency national security measures and targeting of individual protest leaders is reminiscent of tactics used by the Beijing and Hong Kong authorities to crush a wave of dissent in the Chinese-ruled city.”—The Telegraph

Business:

  • The Royal Forest Department asked the police and Department of Special Investigation to take action against gold miner Akara Resources for encroaching on 15 plots of public and forest land spanning 73 rais in two northern provinces, namely Phichit and Phetchaun.  Legal actions are being taken against the gold mine on 15 counts in relations to the 12 mining licenses granted to Chatree Gold Mine back in 2016.  Sources: Khaosod Thai PBS Bangkok Post
  • Today marks the first day that the public can register for the government’s Khon La Krueng co-payment scheme via the website www.คนละครึ่ง.com.  The registration is valid for 10 million people and the scheme will kick off on 23 October.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN) affirms that RCEP member countries are ready to sign the trade pact in November this year and that they remain open to India’s return.  Thailand expects to see RCEP taking effect in the latter half of 2021 as it needs to seek the approvals of the cabinet and the parliament.  DTN added that RCEP will prepare Thailand for participation of high-level free trade agreements in the future.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • Commerce Ministry plans to deepen economic cooperation with each province of China, particularly Hainan, which is promoted by the Chinese government as a strategic trade and investment destination.  Commerce Ministry also vows to promote the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor of China.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has approved of 500 Thailand Elite Card members to visit the country. There were 2,674 new members, up 24.8 percent YoY and the number of Thailand Elite Card holders was 11,132 as of Sept 30.  Markets that saw the highest growth in the fiscal year were China (up 52 percent), followed by the US and Germany (44 percent each), France (31 percent) and Britain (29 percent).  Source: Bangkok Post
  • The Federation of Thai Industries cautioned the government on the use of emergency decree due to its repercussions on the business sector and investors’ confidence.  The World Bank also forecasted that Thailand’s economy could contract by -10.4 percent this year as trade and tourism are hit by the pandemic, for which it will take at least 3 years for GDP to recover to pre-COVID level.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Chinese tech giant Huawei expects ICT sector to contribute to 30 percent to Thailand’s GDP by 2030, a 10-percent increase from the present owing largely to 5G ecosystem development led by network deployment and the government’s digital economy policy.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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