Advance Blog

August 19, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 19 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports a newly confirmed case, a total of 3,382 cases. Out of the total number, 3,199 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 India. This is the 86th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
    • The Deputy Army Chief said that the Committee on COVID-19 restrictions easing has reached a decision to extend the Emergency Decree for one more month, citing the administrative collaboration. The decision will need to get an approval from the CCSA chaired by the PM.

Politics

  • This afternoon, the Digital Economy Ministry will hold a press briefing after filing a legal case against the admin of ‘Royalist Marketplace’ Facebook group, including those who posted illicit contents. The group which has recently got a million member mostly discuss ‘critical’ issues, related to the monarchy.—MDES Press Group
  • The high-school protests are still on high agenda as:
    • This afternoon ‘Bad Student’ movement has called for the like-minded students to protest in front of the Education Ministry. The students are mobilising against the Minister who was the former leader of People’s Democratic Reform Committee. The Minister said he will not be at the Ministry as he has other matters to attend to first.—Thai Post
    • Media drew on the past actions of the Education Minister who whistled against the ex-wife of ousted and self-exiled PM Thaksin. The protest organiser said, they are following the path of the minister, wishing that one day they would be successful like the minister.—Khao Sod
    • The Ministry has reduced the tension by issuing an order for every schools to allow students to express their political opinions freely.—all media outlet
    • Deputy Army Chief gave an interview fearing that student protestors might not have adequate information. The general has asked for cooperation from teachers and families to make the students to have the correct understanding. —Manager
  • The police said they would seek the arrest warrant from the court for six leaders of student protestors in Thammasat University for sedition.—all media outlet
  • Senator Somchai Sawangkarn said that the Free People Movement has been taken over by the political party. He said that he knew there were more than 5,000 people recruited by politicians from a political party to join the Free People Movement protest on Sunday.–Manager
  • The issue of charter revision became heated as the Move Forward Party withdrew from parliament’s constitutional reform committee. The proposal of the committee stated that it would not touch upon the Article 1 and 2 of the Constitution on form of state and monarchy, respectively. The party said that it would like to leave as much room for discussion as possible. Vocal MP Rangsiman told the media that although no one was trying to change Thailand to become a republic, the demand of student protesters that conservative institutions must be reformed should be addressed.—Thai Enquirer
  • Senior advisors of the ruling Bhumjaithai and Democrat Parties said that the government has considered the idea of dissolving the house and letting an interim government handle constitutional change before fresh elections, in a bid to avoid bloody conflict. The advisors told that the government thinks it can keep on to power by holding forums and engaging in dialogue with the students.—Thai Enquirer
  • The PM told after the weekly cabinet meeting that the government is planning to hold the Provincial Administrative Organizations within this year. There is no clear policy/ direction on when other local elections will be held.—Daily News

Business

  • The pandemic has delayed investments in the EEC by 6-7 months, but is expected to pick up after Q2.  Next week, the EEC Office (EECO) will organize an online meeting with 50 CEOs of Chinese companies to discuss investment plans.  The EECO is also focused on attracting investments in 5G technology, logistics, smart city and medical hub, for which it has reached out to US, Chinese and British investors.  Nevertheless, EECO remains concerned about the lack of workforce with the skills to propel the S-Curve industries and said about 400,000 – 500,000 workforce must be reskilled.  Source:  Prachachat Turakij

Cabinet’s Decisions, 18 August 2020

  • Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) will provide a 57-billion-Baht guarantee loans taken by SMEs under the Bank of Thailand’s soft loans scheme. It will cover the loan terms of 8 years.
  • Government Savings Bank (GSB) will expand coverage of its existing 10-billion Baht COVID-19 lending scheme to SMEs, self-employed and families and individuals with regular income.  An additional 5 billion Baht is allocated as loans specifically for operators in tourism-related industries.
  • GSB will expand the coverage of the 80-billion-Baht lending scheme for SMEs and will offer 10 billion Baht in loans via non-bank financial companies to support SMEs in tourism and other sectors.  GSB will further offer 3 billion Baht in loans directly to SMEs.
  • Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand will expand its 10 billion-Baht loan for tourism operators to cover other types of businesses, including individuals and corporate entities. 
  • Loan guarantee scheme under the TCG loan package will be extended to support micro entrepreneurs with funding of 15 billion Baht. Each will get no more than 200,000 Baht.
  • Approved a 214-billion-baht borrowing plan for a revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year, which is the result of the coronavirus pandemic.  The new debt will total 1.66 trillion Baht, up from 1.5 trillion Baht.  Under Finance Ministry’s new borrowing plan, public debt to GDP ratio will go up to 51.64 percent, which is still below the 60 percent ceiling.
  • Approved price guarantee programmes for corn, tapioca and rubber, with spending totalling 14.1 billion Baht.  Sources:  The Nation Bangkok Post  Bangkok Post  Bangkok Post  Thansettakij

Others

  • The Economic Situation Administration Centre will convene its first meeting today to discuss plans to stimulate consumption, public and private investment as well as curb unemployment.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • The number of unemployed youth in Thailand will double this year, while 220 million young workers in Asia will be vulnerable to labour market disruption caused by Covid-19, according to the Asian Development Bank’s report entitled Tackling the COVID-19 youth employment crisis in Asia and the Pacific.  Source:  The Nation
  • Thai Hotels Association urged the government to include expatriates in the second phase of tourism stimulus following the domestic market’s slow response to the first phase of the package.  THA will also seek soft loans and tourism funds to improve the liquidity of hotels until Thailand can welcome international tourists.  Phuket is also gearing up as the hub of alternative state quarantine.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Treasury Department considers reducing rental fees for 30-50 business lessees of state properties to help them cope with Covid-19 impacts.  Many businesses such as Airports of Thailand Plc, Phuket Ferry and various SMEs operating in the hotel sector requested for Treasury to reduce rental fees by 50 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The use of free trade agreement (FTA) privileges and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) by Thai exporters fell by 15.1 percent YoY in the first five months of 2020, corresponding with the country’s lower overall exports.  However, exports of drinks and processed foods remained strong.  Australia, for example, imported more processed tuna and processed tofu from Thailand.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thailand’s digital content industry is expected to surpass 30 billion Baht in value this year, driven by the rise in demand as users spend more time online in the wake of the pandemic. In the pre-Covid period, Thailand’s digital content industry grew at least 10% a year, with the latest survey showing it was valued at 25 billion Baht in 2017.  Source: Bangkok Post

Opinion

  • An interview of Ms Panasuya Sithijirawattanakul who was on stage to read the 10 monarchical reforms on 10 August gave an interview to Nikkei Asian Review on personal background. The interview quoted a diplomat based in Bangkok who said “the ultra-royalists have been shaken at the speed at which the student protests have spread across the country, and the dramatic turn to question the monarchy, even though government spooks had been tracking the youth protests for months”.
  • The appointment of Mr Anucha Burapachaisri as the government spokesperson showed that the PM still have a much say in the administration. As other candidates; namely, Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana who got the support from the Justice Minister and leader of ‘Sam Mitr’ faction in the main ruling PPRP; and Mr Tossapon Pengsom who got the support from the Deputy PM and PPRP leader General Prawit.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Thai former ambassador to Argentina said that some major powers are plotting against the current government and the monarchy by using agents to abduct the Thai dissident in Cambodia with an aim to tarnish the monarchy. The former diplomat said this is the scramble for Thailand.—Siam Rath

Australia

  • In the weekly cabinet meeting, the cabinet has approved Mr Thani Thongphakdi (ANU alumnus) as the permanent-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also, the cabinet has approved Mr Anucha Burapachaisri (Sacred Heart College and The University of Adelaide alumnus) as the government spokesperson.
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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