Advance Blog

September 16, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 16 September 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
13,897 (394 from prisons); (excluding ATK 1,768)1,434,237 (last seven days: 95,687)3,911/ 7881,290,556 (+13,527)1,405,37428,085,202  (+ 316,107) BKK: 7,440,332 (+32,495)617,550 (+ 975) BKK: 619,128 (+ 1,578)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)Average positive rate in the last seven days
13,494 [11,797 (get tested in hospital) + 1,697 (active case finding)]9 (in SQ)128,546 [87,363 in field hospital]334,797 (+2,886)14,953 (+188) (last seven days: 1,222)42,477,514  (+830,413) BKK: 10,686,938 (+86,030)13,773,184 (+ 512,728) BKK: 2,917,762 (+51,942)16.08%
  • The Tourism Minister discussed with the Bangkok Governor and has agreed that reopening to fully vaccinated and COVID-negative visitors from abroad, scheduled for October 15. The Bangkok Governor has indicated that Bangkok wants their city population rate at 70 percent first.—ThaiPBS World
  • The Minister gave an interview this morning saying that he will consult with the CCSA and Public Health to ease alcoholic beverage when dine-in to attract more tourists.—Inside Thailand
  • The Public Health permanent-secretary has vowed to inoculate 1 million doses on 24 September, Mahidol Day-the day the grand father of the King passed away. The top doctor said that the effort will be conducted for the royal merit making.—Public Health Ministry

Politics

  • In his dramatic return to the main-ruling PPRP meeting, Thammanat, the party’s secretary-general who has been fallen from grace from the ministerial positions, said that at first he would like to resign from the party and set up his new political party. He also stressed that with General Prawit’s blessings, he would  continue working with the PPRP and that this will be his last political party.—Inside Thailand, Thai Rath
    • The former Election Commissioner and political commentator Somchai said that the appearance of Thammanat and Narumon (two figures who were removed from portfolio by the PM) at the PPRP meeting is a shocking development for the PM. He said the reasons that his order to remove the political campaigner from ministerial position does not work well as Thammanat has the majority in the PPRP executives and that General Prawit has decided to go against the PM. Somchai ended with a Thai proverb “There could be only one tiger in a cave”, signifying an even more intense conflicts between the PM and his big brother General Prawit.—Somchai Srisutthiyakorn
  • A court in Thailand granted bail on Wednesday to four leaders (Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, Phromsorn “Fah” Weerathamjaree, Chartchai Kaedum and Nutchanon Pairoj) of an anti-government protest movement after more than a month in pre-trial detention. Pait ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak was released but was remanded on a different charge.—Reuters
  • The Parliament has passed the first reading of the anti-torture and abduction bills with only one absent and one abstain.—
    • MPs have been debating on the first reading of the long-awaited legislation on torture, abductions. A draft bill designed to prevent and punish rogue state officials who abduct and torture suspects was initially approved by cabinet in 2016 but its progress stalled in the legislature. For anyone found guilty of torture and enforced disappearances, proposed punishments include hefty fines and jail terms of 5 to 15 years, increased to 10 to 25 years if the victim is severely injured and 15 to 30 years or life in the event of their death. The vote is expected to be on Thursday and the third reading is expected to be passed next year.—Reuters

ASEAN/ World

  • A veteran media anchor at ThaiPBS interviewed six figures in Thai foreign affairs on the Thai diplomacy in the global context. The main figures included former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, former Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai, former Foreign Ministry secretary-general Sihasak Puengketkaew, Chairman of the PM Security Advisor Committee Panitan Wattanayagorn, Kiat Sittheeamorn, and veteran journalist Kavi Chongkittavorn.—ThaiPBS World
QuestionsInterviewees
AbhisitSurakiatSihasakPanitarnKiatKavi
What should Thailand do to remain relevant in the global stage?Thailand must have a stable domestic politics for it to be respectable.Thai authorities lack the ‘shared vision’ on how the foreign affairs could help the country. Only with the same shared vision, can Thailand achieve foreign affairs success.Thailand has been too domestic-oriented and has been missing in action from the ASEAN stage.Foreign affairs should have participations from state apparatuses, private sectors and civi society.There must be a big change in the foreign policy decision making process to be more proactive. Thailand must have a clear stance on every major power and regions.Thailand must uphold internationally accepted standards-human rights and liberal trade regime and others.
What should be the Thai stance in the more contested global politics between the US and China?Thailand must find a middle ground in the more intense US-Sino relations and must maintain its independent stance.As cordial to both, Thailand can play a constructive roles with both the US and China. Thailand must make a clear relations with all major powers and must seize the strategic silence.It is wise to take sides at certain occasions. Thailand must look at Singapore foreign policy stressing the importance of international competition for the smaller nations’ benefits. It is a real challenge and Thailand must find a very well-balanced stance to take.Thailand must remain neutral to secure an important negotiating power and should expand its relations to other extra-regional nations to gain more power.
What should the Thai government do in Myanmar crisis?Thailand must build up its domestic legitimacy first before engaging with the regional affairs. Thailand must be more democratic before having a say in its regional affairs.Thailand has the potential to influence the junta to hold a negotiation with all parties concerned. Despite upholding the non-interference principle, violence must not be tolerated.Thailand should play a more assertive role in Myanmar. Despite the claim to play ‘discreet diplomacy’, it is unclear what the term mean?N/AN/AN/A

Australia

  • Thai media cited Reuters reporting that the announcement of the establishment of trilateral AUKUS pact (Australia-UK-the US) will also provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarine to cover the region with rising Chinese influence. The pact will also mean Australia must break the deal with the French ship builder Naval Group. US President said that this pact will mean that there will be a greater European engagement in the Into-Pacific region.—Manager, Nation TV, Daily News
  • A senior representative of AFP official in Thailand attended the opening of Anti-trafficking centre at the Royal Police Headquarters in Bangkok.—Kom Chad Leuk

Economic

  • Ministry of Finance will propose that the public debt ceiling be raised to 70 percent of GDP at their next Fiscal Policy committee meeting to be chaired by PM Prayut and Finance Minister Arkhom on 20 September, according to an anonymous source.  The proposal will be to raise the public debt ceiling to 70 percent of GDP for 10 years, during which time tax collection must be raised to 20 percent of GDP to boost state revenue, on the premise that GDP expand by 3-5 percent.  Economists and the Bank of Thailand alike voice support for the move since additional fiscal injection is essential to rehabilitate the economy from COVID-19.  Source:  Prachachat Turakij
  • Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence Center (SCB EIC) forecasted that Thailand’s economic recovery would be delayed until mid-2023 because of the prolonged pandemic outbreak.  SCB EIC has slashed the country’s GDP growth projection for 2021 from 0.9 to 0.7 percent due to subdued domestic consumption.  The number of tourist arrivals this year is also cut to 170,000 from 300,000 expected earlier.  SCB EIC pointed out that the economy’s output loss could be offset by the government borrowing an additional 500 billion – 1 trillion Baht to rehabilitate and reform the structure of the Thai economy.  Source:  Bangkok PostThai Rath
  • Thai National Shippers Council is confident that Thai export this year can achieve a 10 percent YoY growth and even reach 14 percent growth in the best case scenario.  This would mark the highest growth rate in 10 years, with export value that reaches a historically high level of 254 – 263 billion USD.  However,  a number of factors could impede growth, such as shipping container shortage, high freight cost that increased by 4 times, micro-chip shortage in the electronic industry and COVID-19 infection of workers the manufacturing sector.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • Speaking at an online seminar “From Recovery to Resilience: The Development Dimension”, Supachai Panitchpakdi, former secretary-general of the UNCTAD said the region needs to pursue the sufficiency economy principle of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej as one of the principles for resilient and inclusive growth with sufficient food, shelter, education and basic needs.  Supachai added it is time for Asia-Pacific countries to look at green economy development to tackle the imbalance between economic and non-economic development to create sustainability.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • A new joint venture company between PTT and multinational electronics manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, a subsidiary of Taiwan’s FoxConn, will be established to develop a US$1-2 billion Electric Vehicle (EV) production facility in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).  The JV firm will be developed to develop a comprehensive supply chain for EV together with an R&D centre to promote Thailand as the production hub of EV in ASEAN.  The initial manufacturing target is set at 50,000 cars and will increase to 150,000 annually in the next stage.  Source:  Bangkok Post, MCOT
  • Ministry of Tourism and Sports said the reopening of Bangkok will be delayed from 1 October to 15 October to ensure 70 percent of Bangkok residents is fully inoculated.  The quarantine-free entry via Bangkok will benefit the whole country, particularly with the 7+7 extension plan that will be implemented simultaneously.  This will allow tourists to stay in Bangkok for 7 days before travelling to another 8 provinces that are also in the pilot reopening programme.  Most will next week propose the reopening of five areas, including Bangkok, to the CCSA and CESA.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Hotels in Phuket have benefitted from more than 524,000 paid room nights since its sandbox reopening 11 weeks ago, with the largest group of visitors coming from the United States.  As visitors were now required to spend only seven nights instead of 14 nights in Phuket and could then travel to Surat Thani, Phangnga or Krabi province, those three southern provinces also benefitted. They reported hotel occupancy of 7,135 room nights – 3,936 room nights in Surat Thani, 1,936 in Phangnga and 1,263 in Krabi.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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