Advance Blog

November 2, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 2 November 2020

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports three newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,787 cases. Out of the total number, 3,595 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.93%); 133 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 59. The newly confirmed cases are returnees from Sweden (2) and Kenya (1). All have been in state quarantine since.
    • The national communicable disease committee is ready to propose CCSA the reduction of quarantine from 14 to 10 days, citing the low rate of infection locally.–ThaiPBS
    • The cabinet is at mobile cabinet meeting in Samui Island and Phuket to have a final look into the STVs scheme preparation.

Politics

  • Yesterday, their Majesties the King and Queen visited the Grand Palace and changed the attire of the Emerald Buddha:
    • Channel 4 News made a historic interview with King Vajiralongkorn, asking the King on what he thinks about the protestors and would there be a room for compromise. H.M the King replied by saying “We love them all the same and that Thailand is a “land of compromise”.—Channel4
      1. A protest main figure Jutatip Sirikhan told a media in response to the King’s remarks that “I feel like they are just words. The word compromise is the opposite of what has actually happened … like harassment and the use of force and the use of the law.”—Asia Nikkei Review
    • Royalist ‘Avengers’ assembled in front of the grand palace to greet with the King:
  • Varong Dejkitvigrom, the core leader of Thai Bhakkdhi (Loyalist Thai) was greeted by the King and the politician-turned-activist posted on his social media that the King asked him to “help make the truth out”.—Varong Dejkitvigrom
    • Varong addressed royalists on 31 December that there are three groups which are secretly supporting the student-led protestors, citing the students are not able to organise this by their own. The three groups include 1. Progressive Movement (the political movement succeeding the now-defunct Future Forward Party); 2. The Dubai Group (where the self-exiled former PM Thaksin is residing); 3. The Western Imperialist Group.–Matichon
  • Suwit Thongprasert who led the People’s Democratic Reform Committee to the coup in 2014 and actor-turn-volunteer who announced earlier that if he finds anyone who is violating the monarchy, he will slab him or her were also greeted by the King.
  • Apart from the former main figures of the PDRC, there were more than thousands of the royalist gathered to get a chance to meet the King.
  • The Parliament is scheduled to set up a reconciliation committee comprising 7 parties. The Opposition parties held a meeting this morning and briefed the press that such a committee has no authority to perform any action. And that the first step of any reconciliation is for the PM to step down. The Opposition is yet to decide whether to join the committee.
  • A vocal MP and Deputy Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) leader proposed that on the PAO’s executive election on 20 December, there could be a referendum to ask people whether the government will use the ultimate legal measures to ban any political protests which violates the public gathering laws and violating the security and economy of the country due to COVID-19 for two years.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Over the weekend, there were a lot of developments from the student-led protestors:
    • Last night, student-led protest organisers communicated through their social media outlet negating the earlier demands by ‘All People End Game’ group that they are ready to compromise (demanding: 1. the 1997 Constitution back in; 2. Dissolution of the House and hold a new election; 3. The new constitution of the people for the people).—Thai Rath
    • On Saturday when a group of student protest claimed to hold a ‘big surprise’ as their Majesties the King and Queen will attend the graduation certificate handover ceremony, there were a large presence of security forces aiming to curb any defiance in the continuing activist stronghold Thammasat University. In an unprecedented move, anyone who is going to enter the university on the graduation day will have their ID Card checked and will be given different stickers based on their political activism engagement.–Prachatai, Reuters, AP
    • Three main protest figures Panupong ‘Mike’ (24), Parit ‘Penguin’ (22) and Panusaya ‘Rung’ (22) are being hospitalised at Rama 9 Hospital as the three was on bail last week. There have been reports of police are requesting an arrest warrant to bring them back behind bars.
  • There is also a report that the mother of Parit was being fired for her son’s activism.—Naew Na
  • Parit posted on his social media outlets that there is an ‘order’ to get rid of all the main figures of the student-led rallies as soon as possible. He pledged that he is willing to sacrifice anything including his life. He said that all three demands should be pressed concurrently.—Daily News
  • On Thursday night, a group of protestors took Silom street holding a fashion show to mock the Princess Sirivannavari’s fashion show at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the exact same time, targeting the Ministry of Commerce budget to support the princess’s brand event aboard.–AP, Reuters
  • Over the weekend, there have been three polls trying to capture the people’s opinion on the current political situations:
    • On the latest extraordinary parliament session aiming at resolving the political conflicts. More than 40 percent of participants think that the session is nothing but a political ploy to defer changes; while 31.93% thinks that the session is the solution to the conflict. When the debate session is over more than 80 % thinks that the conflicts remain the same or even greater, while, 10.82% thinks that the conflicts dwindled.—Suan Dusit Poll
    • On how the latest wave of protest would end, around 20% thinks that the government would fulfil the protestors demands, 15.79% thinks that there will be a violence and the government will resign, 12.53% thinks that there will be violence followed by a coup.—Nida Poll
    • On foreign interference into Thai internal affairs, 80.3% thinks that there are foreign governments which are not the ‘great friend’ of Thailand are trying to intervene. Meanwhile, 86.2% of the participants believes that the ‘great friend’ to Thailand could help solidify the unity and patriotism in Thailand.—Super Poll
  • Australian media SBS released a documentary of a protest leader Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanak who are at the central of monarchical reforms demands of the protestors with exclusive footages of her before being arrested.–SBS The video link on YouTube is geo-blocked in Thailand, but could alternatively viewed here.

Analysis/Opinion:

  • A media reports on security forces’ information on four freelance teams operating behind the student-led rallies. All these teams are operating on mobile basis which is difficult for authority to track physically, not to mention virtually which has server located aboard:
    • The psychological team to analyse the behaviour of the potential participants to draft the message that would fit well with the psyche of each generation;
    • The explorer team to select protest sites which are convenient to travel;
    • The observation team to take a field study of the site a few hours before the real protest time and send information to the decision team;
    • The decision team to decide where the protest site will be.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

  • The cabinet on 28 October approved of allocating a budget worth 111 million Baht on 4 projects to stimulate the economy, comprising 1) promotion of palm oil industry to become oleochemical industry; 2) capacity building to improve the services offered by the tourism sector and 3) for hotels to meet the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification in compliance with the New Normal tourism standard; and 4) promoting the scenic route and Sand Dunes as part of the ecological trail along Thailand’s Riviera (eastern coastal zone).  Source:  Thansettakij
  • The Cabinet approved a guideline to reopen Thailand to foreign tourists and crews of foreign yachts under the Special Tourist Visa scheme.  The new guideline is published in The Royal Gazette and will be enforced until 30 September.  Source:  National News Bureau of Thailand, 31 October 2020
  • Commerce Ministry reiterated that the United States’ suspension of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for 231 Thai products, effective 30 December, will not impact Thailand’s overall export to the US.  The reason for the preferential trade benefit suspension is because Thailand lacks sufficient progress in providing the US with equitable market access for its pork products.  Only 147 (trade value worth 604 million USD) of the 231 products bereft of GSP suspension will be directly impacted since they will be subject to a higher tariff rate between 3 -4 percent.  Affected products include auto parts, plastic glasses frames, certain chemical products and rubber or plastic beddings.  Nonetheless, an academic notes that the suspension will largely affect small businesses that rely on the US market.  Commerce Ministry is currently working with the United States to help Thai operators.  Source:  Thansettakij  Bangkok Post Krungthep Turakij
  • The election of the United States President on 3 November will affect Thailand’s trade and investment trends, notably through the President’s different stance on the US-China Trade War.  This will influence the number of businesses that will relocate to Thailand and Thai exports of product in the Chinese supply chain.  The new President will also determine whether or not the US will re-join the CPTPP.  Source:  Bangkok Post The Nation
  • Commerce Ministry’s Department of Business Development will propose the removal of 3 services – telecommunications, finance and software development – from List 3 of the Foreign Business Act to facilitate foreign investments into Thailand.  For telecommunications, it will be applicable to Type 1 telecom service license for operators with no network of their own, such as operators from China that will rent Thailand’s telecomm network to service Chinese investors in Thailand.  For finance, the proposal applies to businesses that manage foreign currencies for businesses and their affiliates in the same group.  For software, the change is applicable to companies that develop Big Data, Data Analytics, Predictive Analysis, cybersecurity software and software related to manufacturing industries.  Once removed from the list, the businesses will not be required to seek permission from Foreign Business Commission to operate in Thailand, but can seek the permission directly from their supervisory bodies.  Sources:  Manager Online Bangkok Post The Nation
  • Tax revenue in Q2 of FY2020 reported a 29 percent YoY decline due to the strict lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic.  According to  the Revenue Department, tax revenue from private consumption as well as personal and corporate income will not reach pre-pandemic level until a vaccine is successfully developed.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is hopeful the European market will recovery from the pandemic outbreak, with the first group of Scandinavians expected to arrive later this year.  TAT believes tourism activity will pick up by the last 2 months of the year, as the number of semi-commercial flights from long-haul destinations increase.  It is also a trial period to test the waters and TAT’s goal for next year is to increase the tourists’ length of stay.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong has approved 2 projects worth nearly 19 billion Baht to develop and manage goods transport facilities to serve shipping and border trade businesses in Rayong and Chiang Rai provinces. The first project, valued at 16 billion Baht, concerns port management to facilitate loading and unloading of liquid products for factories in Rayong’s Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate inThe second project is the establishment of a goods transport centre, worth 2.8 billion baht, in Chiang Rai’s Chiang Khong district.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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