Advance Blog

July 20, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 20 July 2020

News  

Updates related to COVID-19:

  • Today, Thailand reports a newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,250 cases. Out of the total number, 3,096 have been discharged from hospital; 96 are being hospitalised (at 95.26%). The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed case Thai nationals returned from the Singapore, and has been in state quarantine since. This is the 56th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
  • Over the weekend, Thailand reported
    • 3,249 cases (+10)
    • 3,096 discharged
    • 95 hospitalised
    • 58 death toll
  • CCSA announced the result of COVID-19 test of people who might be in contact with the Egyptian soldier in Rayong and Sudanese diplomat’s child in Bangkok. Out of 6,585 samples in Rayong and Bangkok, 6,287 cases are tested negative (214 waiting result). The CCSA spokesperson said that the case could be “closed” if there is no positive test result until Thursday and Friday. 
  • The CCSA spokesperson said yesterday that consider easing of lockdown restrictions in the sixth phase by allowing the entry of foreign migrant workers from Thailand’s neighbouring countries to ease the labour shortage and enable economic rehabilitation this Wednesday. The smaller circle of CCSA chaired by the National Security Council Secretary-general will discuss whether to extend the security decree scheduled to terminate the end of this month.—ThaiPBS World, Manager, Naew Na, Thai Rath
  • Suan Dusit Poll published its survey result that a vast majority of Thais — 94.51% — say foreigners should be barred from entering the country to prevent a second wave of the Covid-19 spread.—Bangkok Post
  • The situation in the deep-South is getting back to media attention as:
  • Authorities yesterday arrested and charged six insurgents suspected of planting two bombs which injured four villagers in Pattani last week.
  • Human rights advocacy groups have urged the army to stop collecting DNA samples during the military draft process in the four restive southern provinces. Collecting DNA samples is not a normal part of the military draft. The army initiated the practice last year by starting pilot projects in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and four districts in Songkhla province — Chana, Thepha, Saba Yoi and Na Thawi. These areas have been mired in insurgency violence for 15 years.—Bangkok Post

Politics

  • The mass protests since the COVID pandemic crisis kicked off over the weekend:
    • On Saturday, Free Youth Movement took the street in front of Democracy Monument. The police has estimated that the participants were at around 500; but the organisers estimated that there were more than 2,000 people attended. The group has laid out three demands:  the dissolution of parliament, an end to harassment of government critics, and amendments to the military-written constitution that critics say virtually guaranteed victory for Prayuth’s party in elections last year. The organisers gave the 2-week ultimatum to the government to make the demands meet; or else, they will escalate the protest.–Reuters, AP , The Guardian, Channel News Asia, Nikkei Asian Review, Aljazeera, South China Morning Post, The Straits TimesTaipei Times, The Jakarta Post, DW
    • The movement announced earlier that they would stay overnight, but after some chaos from misunderstandings, the movement adjourned the protest on Saturday’s night.
    • The virtual engagement of the protest reached its historic threshold when the #เยาวชนปลดแอก (Free Youth) was retweeted for more than 12 million times, the highest number this year, beating #กราดยิงโคราช (Active shooting at Korat) which got 8.5 retweets.—The Matter
    • The protests spread to other provinces yesterday in Chiang Mai and Ubon Ratchatani with several hundreds of people joined in, demanding the resignation of the PM.
    • The Commander of the Metropolitan Police said that they are scheduled to meet this morning to set up an investigation committee to press charges against the protestors.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The Army deputy spokesperson posted on her personal FB on Saturday and deleted it soon after. She calling the protestors ‘childish protest’. This has sparked online backlash and that there will be a protest at 5.00pm this afternoon in front of the Army Headquarter.—Thai Enquirer
    • More protests have been scheduled in Chonburi on Wednesday, Maha Sarakham & Lumphun on Friday, and Roi Et on 2 August. The New Life Network is scheduled to protest today at 1.00pm in front of Government House.
    • A pro-government ‘Walk for the Uncle’ group announced on its FB Page that they will also mobilise a government support gathering once the COVID-19 vaccine has been developed.
  • Cabinet reshuffle is still on high agenda
    • Breaking: PMO’s Minister Tewan Liptapanlop has just announced his resignation to pave way for the PM to make a cabinet reshuffle.
    • On 21 July, main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) is scheduled to hold a meeting and will discuss a list of people who will be nominated for cabinet seats.—Bangkok Post
    • Breaking: Deputy party leader Paiboon just gave an interview that the PPRP will nominate Industry Minister Suriya to fill in Energy portfolio as Mr Palin has conflict of interest.—The Reporters
    • Over the weekend, prospective people who were expected by the media to fill in the ministerial seats of the so-called “Fantastic Four” who resigned last Wednesday turned down the opportunity. NESDC Secretary General, Thossaphorn Sirisamphan; Bank of Thailand Governor, Veerathai Santiprabhob and former BOT Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul have announced that they will not be part of the portfolio as they are willing to help the government from behind the curtain.
    • A media quoted a source in PPRP who said that the Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat eyes for the Deputy Interior Minister. The portfolio will be filled by Chon Buri MP Suchart Chomklin. The report also speculates that government spokesperson Narumon could be a likely candidate for the PMO Minister as the Deputy PM Prawit and PPRP leader pushed for her candidacy.—Than Settakij

Business:

CPTPP

  • A study by Chulalongkorn University entitled “CPTPP Impact on Access to Medicines” reveals that the trade pact will make the country further reliant on imported drugs while leaving state-owned drug maker (Government Pharmaceutical Organization) in a difficult position.  It will also cost Thailand more in medicine production and procurement.  The study was submitted to the Parliament-appointed CPTPP sub-committee.—Bangkok Post 

Others

  • Asia Nikkei – Thailand may be competing for Hong Kong migrants with nations such as the UK and Australia.  The number of Hong Kong citizens becoming Thailand’s Elite Card visa holders soared 380 percent on the year for the 9 months through June 31.  Elite Card refers to Tourism Authority of Thailand’s long-term residency program for a period ranging from 5-20 years.  The surge is attributable to China’s enactment of the security law in late June, which Hong Kong citizens fear might jeopardize their freedom.—Asian Nikkei Review
  • New York Times – Thailand’s success in containing the spread of COVID-19 could be attributed to a combination factors such as the Thai culture, genetic composition, lifestyle and robust healthcare system.  Among them is also the closedown of its international borders, which is inevitably having adverse effects on its economy, poverty and unemployment figures.  The latter is reflected in the Thai Tourism and Sports Ministry’s estimate that 60 percent of hospitality businesses could close down by the year-end.  It is also hurting the country’s large population of migrant workers, some of whom are stuck in Thailand with no employment or wages.—The New York Times
  • More than 3.6 million people have registered for the government’s tourism stimulus campaign (Rao Tiew Duay Kan) since its launch last Wednesday.  Some hotels that are joining the project have hiked up their room rate, prompting the government to threaten to delist them from the campaign.—Bangkok Post
  • Thailand has started a new supply-chain to transport perishables into China, the country’s no. 2 export market after the US.  The first of its kind in Thailand, this two-mode system by trucking agriculture produce to Vietnam and then moving the goods by trains into China, has proven to be cheaper and faster.  Already, exports to China increased by 15.3 percent by value in May from the same month a year earlier. –Bangkok Post
  • The Ministry of Finance has borrowed 30 billion Baht from the Government Savings Bank through a four-year term loan.  This being the first batch of loan under the 1 trillion Baht borrowing decree for combating COVID19.  This announcement was published in The Royal Gazette on 17 July 2020.Krungthep Turakij

Politics

  • The Energy Minister became the highly competitive premium seat in the next cabinet reshuffle when the Energy Minister Sondhirat resigned with others yesterday. Media reaches a rather consensus that PM-backed Mr Pailin Chuchottaworn will replace the resigned position. However, Industry Minister Suriya has long eyed for the position. Who will be the next Energy Minister will show how much political power the PM have.–Matichon
    • MP Anucha denied the reports that there will be a movement by MPs to go against Mr Pairin to be the next Energy Minister, and the position needs to be secured for Industry Minister Suriya only. The MP said that someone in the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) leaked the rumour.—all media outlet
  • Breaking: Related to the expected name for the next cabinet portfolio, Mr Thossaphorn Sirisamphan, the secretary-general of Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council, denied the rumour that he will join the cabinet in the next reshuffle. He said in a statement that he will assist the government from behind the scene, after his upcoming retirement in September.—Than Settakij
  • It is coming to be a decisive moment for traditionally big political parties as the third largest ruling Democrat Party is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting this Sunday. And the main Opposition Pheu Thai Party is scheduled to hold its AGM this Tuesday.–Prachachart
  • The Royal Gazette published the Prime Minister Office order to appoint National Reform Committee. This 5-year-term committee composes of 185 personnel, overseeing reforms in 13 areas, including politics, public administration, media, and education.
  • Two protestors who held derogatory signs condemning PM Prayut when he was in Rayong on Wednesday were charged by the Police with four legal cases (violating Emergency Decree, violating Disease Control Act, resisting security personnel order, and fleeing during apprehension). The two protestors went to the Parliament to file a complaint to the House Legal, Justice and Human Rights Committee.—all media outlet
  • Free Youth Movement has scheduled the mass student protest at the Democracy Monument this Saturday from 5.00pm. The organiser said that we should tolerate the PM and the current political atmosphere no more and that change needs to happen within this generation. The two protestors who were apprehended in Rayong will be joining this rally.

Business

  • The baht continued to weaken on Thursday after the resignations of Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and four other key officials, reflecting foreign investors’ concerns about the continuity of the government’s economic policies. The THB is now Asia’s weakest currency against the US dollar on a year-to-date basis.—Bangkok Post
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the remaking of Thailand’s automotive industry, the backbone of Southeast Asia’s auto sector, as factory shutdowns compound a shift toward electric vehicles. The government in March targeted EVs at 30% of production, or 750,000 vehicles, by 2030, initially for domestic use in a bid to curb pollution.–Reuters
  • The Bank of Thailand expects that over the next 12 months, average inflation was projected at minus 0.9% adding supply-side pressures would remain low as a slow global economic recovery continued to weigh on world energy prices.—Bangkok Post

Australia

  • The Director-general of Department of Primary Industries and Mines dismissed the rumour that Thailand lost the case against Australian King’s Gate gold mine in the tribunal and needs to pay the compensation of 70,000 million. The DG said that the tribunal is still in process and the verdict is not finalised yet.–Manager, Thai News Agency, Siam Rath

Opinion

  • Opinion piece on CCSA and government “misguided” mindset in aiming over for zero local COVID infection, jeopardising Thai economic and well-being in “Covid success coming at a heavy price”.—Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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