Advance Blog

April 19, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 19 April 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,39043,7427728,787 (at 65.81%)26,632535,925
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,384 [1,058 (get tested in hospital) + 326 (active case finding)] 6 (in SQ) 14,5813,615 (+293)104 (+3)20,59482,658
  • In a bid to curb the third surge of COVID-19 in the Kingdom, the CCSA has imposed a fresh set of restrictions dividing the country into two zones: highly controlled area (red zone)-18 provinces and controlled area (orange zone)-59 provinces. See the details of the restrictions at https://www.tatnews.org/2021/04/thailand-strengthens-measures-to-contain-new-wave-of-covid-19-infections/
  • The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration order on temporary closure of premises can be found at Public Relations Department of the BMA here
  • The Minister of Tourism and Sports affirmed the earlier timeline to reopen Phuket to tourism, despite the third wave of pandemic. The minister said the ministry’s next step will be to discuss city-to-city travel bubble with Singapore and Hong Kong and said that “if we succeed in negotiating with Singapore, it will automatically add in New Zealand and Australia into the travel bubble.”—Than Settakij

Politics

  • Former Pheu Thai Chief Strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan who is now leading freshly established Thai Sarng Thai Party gave an exclusive interview with a media. Sudarat said her new party will function as a bridge between the older and newer generations. She said the Thai political conflict is no longer that between red and yellow, but that of generational clashes.—Krungthep turakij
  • A Facebook Page ปราชญ์สามสี posted a claimed-to-be leaked Line conversation between a major leader of the student-led protestors and Agent H (Henry Rector). The former is reportedly informed and took orders from the American Senior Diplomatic Advisor regarding the capture of protest leaders.—Than Settakij
  • An American professor who has been teaching and working as academia in Thailand for almost four decades was no longer Khon Kaen University professor as the educational institution said David Streckfuss has violated the contract. David who is concurrently help run freshly established Isaan Record news outlet said his academic integrity is being mistreated by political motives. The academia who has been participating in pro-democratic activities has been revoked his visa.–Matichon
  • A royalist group called themselves ‘King Naresuan’s warrior’ was on an inquisitor mission to inspect a local man in the Eastern province of Rayong who was reportedly posted inflammatory message to the King. After the investigation, the group said the user is experiencing depression. The Group thanked village headman and local authority for their collaboration in liaising with the mission.– https://www.facebook.com/338406630845257/posts/401192317900021/

Analysis

  • Armed force reporter Wassana Nanuam analysed the political future of many actors. As for the PM, she said as a military, he will stay on as long as the mission is yet to be achieved. She cited the PM always saying “Don’t you know who I have to be in power for?”. And for the newly established party by the PM, she believed that former Police Chief Chakthip will take the lead in the party, despite much anticipation that he will join the local Bangkok governor election. Wassana said the PM will not resign until he is rest assured that there is a stable successor to take on his mission and that will be led by former Police Chief Chakthip, former Army Chief Abhirat and Ministry of Defence permanent-secretary Nut Intaracharoen, all of whom are from the same batch in cadet school.—Ringside การเมือง
  • A media veteran said Thailand prestigious diplomacy is being tested as the Thai international status is being off radar. He cited former American Ambassador to Thailand who is warning that Biden administration is overlooking Thailand significance in its Indo-Pacific outlook. The politically designated former ambassador claimed he read internal paper which mentioned Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam but not Thailand. The media veteran also raised the unclear information whether Thai leader will personally join the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. Even in the Biden’s initiated climate change summit, Thailand is not invited as one of the 40 countries to join, despite proclaiming to be the American oldest ally in Southeast Asia.–PPTV
  • After former Pheu Thai chief strategist Sudarat left the main opposition party, the party is witnessing a new direction steering towards having Pongsak Ruktapongpisal to lead Bangkok constituencies. The new Pheu Thai management, according to Krungthep turakij, is steering towards the revival of former Red Shirts factions in the party, particularly the faction which is friendly to the student-led protestors.—Krungthep Turakij

Australia

  • The Embassy’s Songkran video was featured with the US Embassy for getting the Songkran spirit by posting entertaining video with social distancing.—The Nation Thailand
  • Australian Prime Minister’s Songkran message which was posted on Facebook was reported on Matichon
  • Ambassador video on negative covid test result was picked up by a media as Ambassador name appeared in the COVID positive minister timeline.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Ambassador and Consul-General in Phuket was quoted by Phuket Hotels Association president Anthony Lark saying they discussed in Phuket about trying to find a place for connections to Phuket in the travel bubble being discussed between the Australian and Singapore governments.—The Sydney Morning Herald And was picked up by local Thai media—Isra News Agency, Siang Tai (The voice of the South)

Economic:

CPTPP

  • The 8 CPTPP sub-committees appointed by the cabinet had reported the progress of their studies to the International Economic Affairs Committee chaired by DPM & Foreign Affairs Minister Don.  Commerce Ministry, which serves as the Secretariat of the Economic Affairs Committee, has asked the CPTPP sub-committees to review their reports once again before submitting them to the cabinet.  Meanwhile, the private sector urges the government to accede to CPTPP quickly and pointed that the clauses of concerns, such as the CL and UPOV 1991 must addressed since they are being negotiated under Thailand-EU FTA as well.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij

Tourism

  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry (MoST) will convene a meeting this week to discuss about the need to reset the timeline for the Phuket sandbox model.   It might not be possible for Phuket to vaccinate 70 percent of its population by June to reopen by July because the vaccines are now diverted to combat the fresh outbreaks in other provinces.  MoST must also discuss with other countries that it is negotiating travel bubbles with about their confidence regarding the same timeline.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) estimates that unemployment in Q2 could reach between 2-2.5 million of the 4 million employed by the industry if the government cannot flatten the virus curve to double-digit within a month.  The Phuket sandbox plan, which is slated for July, can be postponed for 15 days or 1 month to ensure virus containment.  TCT called for the government to offer financial aids to operators, noting that the Bank of Thailand’s revised Soft Loan Act that included asset warehousing would be useful.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • DPM Supattanapong admitted that it is unlikely Thailand will achieve a 4-percent GDP growth in 2021 as the current COVID-19 outbreak has severely affected tourism.  Instead, the DPM is pinning hope on export to pick up and grow by 4 percent this year.  The government aims to launch packages to attract foreign investments, draw affluent retirees and stimulate domestic consumption by incentivising people to spend their savings.  The DPM remains keen to reopen Phuket in July, but noted that arrival figures in the initial stage will not meet target.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post
  • Ministry of Finance (MoF) is confident it has sufficient budget worth some 380 billion Baht to combat the third wave of COVID-19.  Of the 1 trillion Baht loan, some 78 percent was disbursed, with the remaining 240 billion Baht available for the government to use in curbing the outbreak.  Additionally, there is 99 billion Baht available from the central budget that is reserved for emergency use, combined with 43 billion Baht budget which was appropriated specifically for COVID-19.  While the 1 trillion Baht loan must be used by 30 September 2021, the government could borrow more if needed.  MoF also noted that its Rao Chana and Social Security cash handout packages could also boost domestic spending and spur the economy until 31 May.  Sources:  Thansettakij  Prrachachat Turakij
  • Commerce Ministry expects a new 5-year strategic trade plan to be completed in September.  It will focus on aiding the government’s recovery in the post-pandemic period by promoting the BCG economic model, as well as domestic trade and exports of work-from-home, agricultural and healthcare products.  MoC plans to also introduce new economic indicators that give more insight on business activities across industries.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The government affirms that there will be no shortage of surgical face masks, given that the government is closely monitoring illicit trade activities and is also continuing to fix the price of domestically-produced masks at 2.50 Baht per piece.  Moreover, Thailand now has 63 factories that manufacture 4-5 million pieces of surgical face masks per day, according to statistics from January – March 2021.  Thailand has also imported 28.6 million surgical masks and 228 million non-surgical masks.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij  Thai Post
  • The pandemic has led to a 5-6 fold growth in the demand for e-document management from the government and corporate sectors.  Demand for the service, according to the service provider Ditto Thailand, increased by 500 percent from year 2019.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Bank of Thailand had responded to the US’s decision on Friday to keep Thailand on a currency manipulation watchlist by asserting that it has stepped into the market only to curb volatility in the Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Australia and New Zealand have officially started their travel bubble scheme today, with travellers from both countries requiring no quarantine.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij Naew Na newspaper, 19 April 2021
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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