Advance Blog

May 21, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 21 May 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
3,481 (951 from prisons)123,0661,248 / 40879,50494,2031,726,431 (+78,560) (= 2.608 % of the population)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccinations2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
2,518 [1,644 (get tested in hospital) + 874 (active case finding)]12 (in SQ)42,827 (24,935 in field hospitals)30,535 (+1,001)641 (+32)2,648,256 doses921,825 (+29,580) (=1.393 % of the population)

Significant updates from the CCSA

  • The CCSA meeting headed by the PM has approved the extension of the state of emergency for the 12th time until 31 July 2021.—CCSA
  • The CCSA spokesperson announced that the health authority found the local contagion of the so-called ‘Indian strain’ in 15 construction workers at the emerging cluster of Lak Si.—CCSA
  • The CCSA spokesperson concludes the three channels of the vaccine roll out in Thailand starting from 7 June:
    • Registration via ‘Mor Phorm’ application-Thai nationals aged 60 and younger can start register from 30 May
    • On-site registration-as additional measure to the Mor Phorm
    • Active vaccination to specific groups of people at risk.
  • As for foreigners in Thailand, the CCSA outlined the registration starting from 7 June as followed:
    • Onsite-registration using (1) Social security number or (2) passport at the hospital which has their health records or at designated hospitals.
    • For designated hospitals in Bangkok, Vimut Hospital, Bangkok Health Centre and other vaccination centres.
    • For designated hospitals in the provinces, hospitals where foreign nationals have registered health records.
  • Chinese citizens living in Thailand began being vaccinated on Thursday as part of China’s global campaign to inoculate its nationals living and working abroad. The Chinese nationals got jabs from the Beijing-donated vaccines given to the Kingdom.—AP
  • Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has ordered the closure of 10 fresh markets in the capital as vendors in the markets are at high-risk of contracting the virus. The ten markets are:
    • Yingchareon Market in Bang Khaen until 24 May
    • Central Din Daeng Market until 21 May
    • Bang Kapi Market until 22 May
    • Khlong Toey Market until 4 June
    • Sam Yarn Market until 20 May
    • Nong Jok Fresh Market until 31 May
    • Sai Net Market in Kannayao until 22 May
    • Sala Nam Lorn Market until 22 May
    • Lam Nok Kwaek Market until 21 May

Politics

  • After the ruling Bhumjaithai Party spokesperson grilled the PM handling of the vaccine roll out, the Deputy PM Prawit came out to comment that as part of the coalition, the spokesperson should rethink about the comment. General Prawit who concurrently head the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party PPRP said the comment does not affect the unity of the coalition and that it is a personal matter.—Thai Rath
    • The Deputy PM and Bhumjaithai leader Anutin said that the comment by his party spokesperson will not affect the unity of the coalition. He said that he did not speak a word when PPRP grilled him and the Transport Minister.—Matichon
  • An MP from the main Opposition Pheu Thai Party said as the budget plan does not reflect the necessity of the country facing the pandemic, the Opposition will vote against the bill.—Thai Rath
  • Tomorrow marks the 7th anniversary of the coup by General Prayut to oust the Yingluck Pheu Thai government. There will be gatherings by Thai people overseas, including in the US, Sweden and Australia.
  • The PM lawyer has filed a royal defamation case against the Paris-based Thai monarchy critic for his FB comment about the monarch’s health condition in relation to the pandemic. The PM lawyer also file the same charge against Opposition Move Forward Party MP for her comment.—Khao Sod
  • The Minister of Digital Economy headed a committee meeting and pledged to revise the entire laws regulating the social media platforms. The minister still want to push for the extradition of those who broke Thai laws virtually to be punished in Thailand.—Krungthep Turakij

Analysis/ opinion

  • The call for the PM to resign has been resonating by the former supporters of the PM:
    • The so-called ‘Peoples of Thailand’ Group has given the PM an ultimatum of one month to reshuffle the cabinet pushing Deputy PM Prawit, Interior Minister, Public Health Minister and Justice Minister out; or the PM must resign. The group who was supportive of the PM said they will escalate should the PM does not abide.—Thai Rath
    • A big name in the conservative camp, Prawase Wasi, wrote his Op-Ed suggesting the national unity government formed under the Buddhist concept of ‘the Great Elect’ is the best solution for the country. He suggested the new PM should head the government which is free from the party-quota.—Isra News Agency
    • Wassana Nanuam, the Army reporter, gave an analysis on the topic ‘If not PM Prayut, then who?’. She said that PM Prayut has been the best option in dealing with the situation where there is a challenge to monarchy. If the ‘signal’ has remain the same, there is no one and nothing which could topple the PM. The suggestion by the ‘Peoples of Thailand’ to coin in names like Supachai Panitchpakdi, the former head of UNCTAD is, according to Wassana, not feasible politically. She mentioned a couples of other possible names which from a security forces perspective, is a feasible candidate to replace PM Prayut. The name list includes former Democrat big name Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, PM-closed Gulf Energy Development CEO Sarath Ratanavadi or even former Army Chief Apirak Kongsompong.—Ringside

Economic

  • Yesterday Thai Commerce Minister Jurin met the Mongolian Ambassador to Thailand, Tumar Amarsanaa for the first time since the Mongolian Embassy was established in Bangkok in year 2000.  Both countries vow to boost bilateral trade to USD100 million by year 2023, with Minister Jurin hoping Thailand would become the go-to-destination for Mongolian medical tourists in the post-pandemic period.  Sources:  Bangkok Post Khaosod
  • At the International Conference on the Future of Asia (Nikkei Forum), PM Prayut said Asia could lead economies worldwide to rebound from COVID-19.  He pledged Thailand’s support for multilateral cooperation which can boost the region’s capacity to rebound from COVID-19.  Thailand will follow Japan’s recommendations to strengthen bilateral trade and investment ties, such as by promoting investments in Electric Vehicles, Eastern Economic Corridor, infrastructure projects as well as implement regulation reforms and upskill the workforce.  PM Prayut vows to pursue a strategic partnership with Japan, in addition to the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement and ASEAN-Japan Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Partnership.   PM Prayut noted that Thailand will host APEC meetings next year and that it is considering whether or not to join the CPTPP.  The PM recognizes that international and regional frameworks such as ASEAN and the RCEP play a key role in a comprehensive recovery.  Sources: Thai Government News Matichon  Bangkok Post Thai Rath  
  • At a separate interview with Asia Nikkei, PM Prayut said Thailand is controlling the latest outbreak of COVID-19 well due to its strong public health system, with 70 percent of the Thai population poised to be inoculated by the end of this year.  The government has also launched a roster of measures to maintain employment as well as to assist local businesses and the afflicted people.  He said the Thai economy will start recovering in Q4 of 2021.  The 2021 GDP growth is expected at 2.3 – 2.5 percent and 4.7 percent in 2022.  The PM continued to emphasize Thailand’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emission through initiatives such as the BCG economic model.  Source:  Prachachart Turakij
  • More than 9.2 million employees under Section 33 of the Social Security Act are not required to register for COVID-19 vaccination through the government’s Mor Phrom app in order to receive their shots.  However, their employers will need to submit the list of employees who are keen to be vaccinated to the Labour Ministry through a web-service system.  The vaccines will then be administered to Section 33 workers at hospitals registered with social security system, starting with Bangkok in June.  In July, the vaccination program will kick off for Section 33 workers in 9 economic provinces, before it will be implemented nationwide.    The Labour ministry plans to inoculate 50,000 people daily, with vaccination program set to be completed in 2 months.  Sources:  Matichon Bangkok Post
  • Phuket authorities will knock on people’s doors to encourage them to get their Covid-19 vaccine jabs to ensure the province is ready to reopen to tourism on July 1.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • COVID-19 has exposed Thailand’s over-reliance on international tourists, with Thailand’s low vaccination progress threatening the Phuket’s ability to reopen on 1 July.  In 2019, Chinese visitors totaled 10.9 million, constituting one-fourth of the total tourist arrivals to Thailand.  Tourism itself comprised 18 percent of Thailand’s GDP.  Nevertheless, the Chinese government is unlikely to allow its people to travel overseas soon.  Instead, the Chinese government has resorted to promote domestic tourism to boost its economy instead.  As such, the Tourism Authority of Thailand forsaw that it may not be until early next year when Chinese tourists would start returning to Thailand, after at least 70 percent of the Thai population is inoculated.  The NESDC has thereby slashed its estimate of foreign arrivals to Thailand this year to 500,000 with the revenue of 250 billion Baht; 3 times less than the domestic receipts recorded last year of 480 billion Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) remains undecided about its new car production target this year, which is raffled by Thailand’s third COVID-19 outbreak as well as the global semiconductor shortage.  FTI will wait 2 months to assess their impacts before making the revision.  Originally, FTI had anticipated that automobile sales in Thailand this year would grow by +5.12 percent from the 1.42 million units last year.  In April 2021, car export increased by 160 percent YoY to 52,880 units.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Kasikornbank (KBank) forecasts that the Baht will weaken further against the US dollar by June this year because of dividend repatriation by foreign investors and the country’s lower current account surplus.  The Baht is expected to appreciate towards the end of 2021.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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