Advance Blog

August 20, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 20 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports seven newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,389 cases. Out of the total number, 3,218 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.95%); 113 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thais returned from UAE (3), Hong Kong (1), Singapore (2) and Egypt(1). This is the 87th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
    • Yesterday, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) held an evening press briefing on the earlier reports that there is a second wave of COVID-19 transmission. The director-general of DDC said that there are two people who have been detected with COVID antibodies as they are testing for the disease before returning back to their work aboard. The DDC has affirmed the people that the risk of the two being able to spread the disease is epidemiologically very low. The blood test of the first lady found COVID-19 immune, DDC said she cannot spread the disease. The test result of the second lady is pending. Both are Thais returned from UAE and were in state quarantine for 14 days with ‘inconclusive’ COVID lab test result.

Politics

  • Tonight FCCT will hold a talk on Student-led protests and Thai politics: Where is it all heading? From 7.00-10.00pm. The panellists are Free People Movement leader, academia, and seasoned journalists.
  • Foreign Minister Don told a foreign media trying to ask for PM comment on the protestors calling PM dictator by saying “Hey you, go and do something more useful for yourself”. The top diplomat also said  international organisations voicing concerns over the protests would rather not to speak up on this, as it is Thai internal affairs. He said Thailand has been enjoying peace, there is no need for other countries to stir the conflicts.—Thai Post
  • Last night until this morning witness a new wave of arrests are back on as police has arrested four protest leaders and an anti-authoritarian rapper who sang My Country Has. One of the leaders is a key member of the Assembly of the Poor. The organisation issued a statement against the arrest.—all media outlet Reuters
  • Yesterday, there were two main sites of anti-government protests:
    • In front of the Education Ministry, hundreds of high school students protested against  the Minister who took part in large-scale street protests that helped trigger the army coup that brought Prayuth to power. Some student protesters blew whistles as he spoke, a disruptive tactic his own movement had used in 2014.–AP
    • Around 2,500 university students at King Mongkut’s Institute demanded for the three propositions; 2 standpoints, and one dream.—all media outlet
    • ‘Thammasat and Protest’ Group announced that they will organise a new protest on 19 September at politically historical Tha Phrachan campus. The group’s last protest on 10 August introduced 10 propositions for monarchical reforms at Rangsit campus. On 19 September 2006, Thailand witnessed the coup d’état from National Council for Peace and Order which scrapped 1997 Constitution.
  • Royalist former Democrat MP Warong Dejkitwikrom held a press conference with 200 people launching a group to counter student protestors and claim to protect the monarchy.–Reuters
  • There have been calls by political parties to amend the constitution as followed:
PartyParliament SeatsArticle to be amendedReservation(s)On the SenateRoadmap
Opposition parties (excluding Move Forward)156256Article 1 and 2N/AConstitution Drafting Assembly—Constitution–Dissolution of Parliament–Election
Move Forward54256, 269-272All constitution should be open for revisionMust not remainN/A
Bhumjaithai61256Article 1 and 2N/AConstitution Drafting Assembly—Constitution–Dissolution of Parliament–Election
Democrat52256Article 1 and 2Should remain (with power limitation)N/A
Chartthai Pattana12256Article 1 and 2Must remainN/A

(Article 256: on the means to amend the constitution; Article 269-272: on the roles and powers of the Senate; and For a motion to be passed to the House for debate, it must have 98 votes)

Business

  • Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong said the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) has established 2 committees to oversee the country’s economic recovery on national and provincial levels.  The national committee is split into 3 sub-committees, tasked to 1) tackle urgent economic problems 2) address medium-and long term economic measures; and 3) gather public opinions; of which the latter will be overseen by the Prime Minister’s adviser Pailin Chuchotthaworn.  As for the provincial committee, it will see Ministers working with provincial Governors in solving social, economic and environmental problems under a 3 trillion Baht budget, which has yet to be approved by the Parliament.  Source:  Nation TV
  • CESA will launch more stimulus measures to revive the economy, among them initiatives to support tourism and create jobs, which will be presented to the cabinet on 25 August.  The funding will come from the 400 billion Baht budget set aside for economic and social rehabilitation projects.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • CESA also proposes increasing the privileges for We Travel Together scheme.  The 40 percent hotel subsidy (ceiling remains 3,000 Baht per night) will be extended to cover 10 nights of stays from the current 5 nights.  Air ticket subsidy will be raised from 1,000 to 2,000 Baht per person.  Private companies will also be eligible to use the scheme for business purposes.  CESA aims for the scheme to end on October 31 since the goal is to spur tourism expenditure during the low season, however, the Thai Hotel Association vouched for the deadline to be extended until March next year to cover the high season.  This is in response to the low uptake of the We Travel Together scheme launched since July, in which only 660,000 of the available 5 million subsidised nights have been booked.   Source:  Bangkok Post   The Nation

Others

  • Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) will sell 3.5 million sanitary face masks to the public at 8 branches of the GPO pharmacy in Bangkok and the vicinity from August 19.  The single-use sanitary face masks will be sold at 125 Baht per box of 50 pieces.  The GPO also affirms it is equipped to procure, manufacture and distribute PPE suits, N95 face masks, sanitary face masks, sanitising alcohol and pharmaceutical products to support the public health system should there be a second wave of pandemic outbreak.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij National News Bureau Thailand fb page, 19 August
  • Fitch revised downward its forecast for Thailand’s 2020 real GDP growth to be -6.6 percent before rebounding to 3.7 percent growth in 2021.  This is because recovery in tourism looks set to be delayed, which will have a ripple effect and will weigh down on domestic confidence and activities.  Thailand faces challenges in attracting foreign investments because of weak domestic demand.  Without the government’s support to curb rising household debt, the Thai economy will only recover to the same extent as the export sector.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • State-owned Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) saw the ratio of loan guarantees for SMEs rise by 167 percent and overall loan guarantee approvals by 223 percent YoY during the first seven months of 2020.  The figure for new customers receiving loans was 98,221, up 222 percent YoY.  TCG is preparing a 150-billion-Baht loan guarantee programme called portfolio guarantee scheme 9 (PSG9) for SMEs, where the credit line will allow financial institutions to offer loans to 100,000 borrowers with a combined loan value of 100 billion Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Some 13 municipalities and 6 universities are joining the smart city charter under Thailand’s 20-year national strategy, with the blueprint created by the National Charter of Thailand that is in turn funded by Thailand Science Research and Innovation.  The project is underway in 6 municipalities, comprising Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan, Udon City, Khon Kaen, Rayong City and Patong City.  The smart city charter pilots ‘experimental zones’ covering 0.25 square km in local communities, in which the priority is to set up physical infrastructure to win public approval before making way for digital technology.  Source:  Bangkok Post

ASEAN/World

  • Mali Army staged a coup to oust the president aiming to restore the country’s stability.—all media outlet
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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