Advance Blog

August 18, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 18 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports three newly confirmed case, a total of 3,381 cases. Out of the total number, 3,198 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.59%); 125 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thais returned from Russia (2) and India (1). This is the 85th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
    • Public Health authority is carrying out an investigation after a Malaysian national tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a visit to Bangkok.—all media outlet
    • National police chief on Monday allowed an investigation into the police handling of the Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya case to be extended by a week.—all media outlet

Politics:

  • The calls for more democracy have reached school gates as many students in schools nationwide raise their symbolic 3-finger salute during national anthem singing session yesterday and today. The students also tie white ties to their bags symbolising the purity of their causes in resisting dictatorship.
    • At some schools, there were video clips of teachers abusing students physically and verbally. Wat Nuannorradit school had to pull down a poster of PM Prayut as distinguished alumnus, since students took pictures flashing 3-finger salute.
    • This morning Deputy PM Prawit responded to the high school students symbolic expressions by commenting that the 3-finger salute might mean they are scouts.
    • Associate Professor Kanokrat Lertchoosakul of Chulalongkorn University who has been conducting a research on student protests said that Twitter is the main communication channel for most of the protestors. The academia invited Facebook and Line elder users to try using Twitter, which at first might cause unease for older people. The political scientist dismissed the understanding that young protestors have Thanatorn (the former leader of the now defunct Future Forward Party) as their prophet, rather the protestors are addressing based on democratic values.—ThaiPBS interview
    • UNICEF has issued a press release calling for the protection of children and young people amid protests in Thailand. The release calls on all parties to uphold children and young people’s right to freedom of expression, and to protect them from all forms of violence and intimidation.—UNICEF Thailand
    • Tomorrow, ‘นักเรียนเลว’ (Bad Student) group has invited other students to rally in front of the education ministry tomorrow at 4.00pm singing national anthem and blowing the whistle against the Education Minister. The Minister was one of the leader of People’s Democratic Reform Committee (which has whistle as their political symbol).
  • Opposition parties are split over a push to amend to section 256 of the constitution to pave the way for charter revisions and set up a new drafting assembly. The second largest opposition Move Forward Party said they also aims for the inclusion to scrap section 269-272 to get the Senate out of politics. The party will hold a press conference later today.—all media outlet
  • The cabinet has approved the appointment of Mr Anucha Burapachaisri, the secretary to Education Minister, as the new government spokesperson. Mr Anucha, the engineer by education is Australian high-school and undergraduate alumnus and was Democrat MPs for two terms.

Business:

  • At a seminar to launch of Foreign Investor Complaint Centre, an officer from the Immigration Office noted procedures in relation to TM30 form: foreigners do not need to report to Immigration every time they leave their city of residence, as announced by the National Police Office recently.  Foreigners only need to report once they have entered Thailand, and if they travel to other provinces, the hotels will be the one to file the form.  TM 30 Form can now be submitted through a mobile phone application.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow convened a meeting with Finance Ministry officials yesterday.  His economic team will present new economic stimulus package to the CCSA and cabinet by the end of August, while also planning to amend the Bank of Thailand’s soft loan conditions to give SMEs greater accessibility to the loans.  Finance Minister Preedee enthused that the Thai economy faces 3 challenges, namely economic contraction; rising unemployment and limited stimulus budget from the 1 trillion Baht loan decree and central budget transfer.  Finance Ministry’s next focuses include debt restructuring, creating employment as well as promoting domestic tourism and spending to offset the loss of external demands.  Sources:  Thansettakij  Bangkok Post
  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry aims to launch its “Safe and Sealed” tourism plan in Phuket by October 1, while Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai aim to position themselves as a northern hub for long-stay travellers.  The plans will be raised at the meeting on 27 August as part of the discussions on the opening of the country to tourists from low-risk cities.  The Tourism Ministry is part of the newly-established economic situation administration and has been working closely with DPM Supattanapong and Finance Minister Preedee.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • NESDC downgraded Thailand’s annual economic outlook for 2020 to a -7.3 to -7.8 percent contraction from an earlier forecast of -5 to -6 percent, after it reported the economy contracted by -12.2 percent in Q2; notably the most in 22 years.  NESDC advised the government to speed up public investment, particularly the delayed infrastructure projects.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • NESDC revealed that 750,000 people are unemployed in Q2, equivalent to 1.95 percent of the total workforce and is the highest since Q2 of 2009.  The highest unemployment rate is seen in the hospitality sector (18.3 percent), followed by the retail sector (14.6 percent). Overall, NESDC predicts that 2 million people could become jobless, excluding informal works who are not covered by the Social Security System.
  • NESDC noted that 1.76 million workers have received compensations under Section 75 of the Labour Protection Act, where factories are required to pay employees 75 percent of their daily wage if their operations are temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.  However, these 1.76 million workers are at risk of becoming jobless if the factories fail to reopen. 
  • Thailand’s household debt has increased to the highest level in 4 years, increasing by 3.9 percent YoY to reach 13.5 trillion Baht.  In essence, household debt accounts for 80.1 percent of GDP, the highest since Q2 of 2016, while the overall credit quality also deteriorated.  Source:  Bangkok Post  Thai Pbs World
  • Thailand’s cross-border trade fell by 9.18 percent YoY in the first half of 2020 due to the lockdown measures and the slowing economies of neighbouring countries.  Of the total cross border trade value of 627 billion Baht, exports comprised 365 billion baht, a 8.6 percent YoY decline, while imports shrank by 9.98 percent to 262 billion.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Central Bankruptcy Court is scheduling two more days of hearings (20 August and 25 August) to consider Thai Airways International’s request for restructuring. The Court’s statement revealed that 16 creditors opposed the airline’s restructuring proposals, and that the two days are scheduled for additional hearings for those opposing the plan.  Creditors also question the technical experience of the company appointed to draft the rehabilitation plan.  Source:  Bangkok Post  Bangkok Post
  • The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) is stepping up efforts to work with the Commerce Ministry and other agencies to strengthen local start-ups as a way to mitigate the market domination of foreign digital platforms.  It is building strategic local digital platforms with public and private partners, among the projects including a 30-rai Digital Valley project in Chon Buri that is slated for completion in July next year.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Bank of Thailand is assessing banks’ stress tests and capital increase plans for the next two years before considering whether to relax the interim dividend payment suspension.  Source:  The Bank of Thailand is assessing banks’ stress tests and capital increase plans for the next two years before considering whether to relax the interim dividend payment suspension.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • US technology giant Google went on the offensive Monday against an Australian plan forcing digital giants to pay for news content, telling users their personal data would be “at risk”.  Australia announced last month that firms like Google and Facebook would have to pay news media for content, after 18 months of negotiations ended without agreement.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Opinion:

  • The time machine does not exist for the Traditionalists whose political utopian lies upon the dual power of the monarchy and the military delivering relative peace and economic growth.–ThisRupt
  • The appointment of FM Don to concurrently serve as the Deputy PM hints that from now on the PM will be focusing on internal political dynamics and to signal the continuity of Thai foreign policy for the diplomatic corps.—Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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