Advance Blog

February 22, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 22 February 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
8925,5046324,361 (at 95.52%)21,267
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
73 [59 (get tested in hospital) + 14 (active case finding)] 16 (in SQ) 1,060950 (+0)83 (+0)14,407
  • Yesterday, the PM posted on his FB Page saying that there will be a plenary CCSA meeting later today to determine lockdown easing measures, whether to allow alcoholic beverages when dine-in or to re-open entertainment complex (pubs and clubs). The PM reaffirmed that the CCSA will decide on this as careful as possible as the decision will affect a lot of small businesses.–Prachachat
  • For any staff who wishes to see the ambience in the Royal Visit to the Embassy last week, please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R28NqndOrtE

Politics

  • Over the weekend, the Parliament engaged in a vote of no confidence:
    • The result ranked according to the votes is as followed
Name + PositionFORAGAINSTABSENTION
Deputy PM and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul2752016
Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan2742044
Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow2741995
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha2722063
Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda2722053
Deputy Interior Minister Niphon Buyamanee2722064
Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit2682077
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob26820112
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin2632125
Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan2582158
  • There are interesting points of votes from many party MPs.
    • Four MPs from Move Forward Party voted for the Health Minister and leader of Bhumjaithai Party, resulting in making him the top of the league. The secretary-general of the party said the four MPs will face ‘internal ban’ from participating in the party’s activities.–Prachachat
      • One of the four MPs Karom said that he would like to be expelled from the party and would like to join second largest Coalition Bhumjaithai Party, citing carelessness from the current party.—Daily News
      • The Party spokesperson gave an interview with a media this morning that the party will not give the MP what he wants. The party will hang the MP and put all flipped MPs on boycott.—Inside Thailand
    • Three MPs from coalition Democrat Party voted abstained for the Deputy PM, Commerce Minister and party leader Jurin Laksanawisit.—Naew Na
    • Six MPs from the main Coalition Palang Pracharat Party (so-called the North Star faction) voted abstained for the Transport Minister from Bhumjaithai Party, citing the minister inability to respond to the censure debate.–Matichon
      • Deputy PM and PPRP leader Prawit is scheduled to hold an urgent party executives’ meeting to punish the North Star Group, as it is reported that Newin Chidchob, brother of Saksayam and former political juggernaut, is pissed with the votes.–Matichon
    • The PM was reportedly jabbed Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat by saying that as the Deputy Minister having more votes than himself, why don’t Mr Thammanat come to be the PM himself.–Matichon
    • The PM was reportedly made a call to the Education Minister who got the least favour votes to give his morale support. The PM affirmed that he does not expect a cabinet reshuffle soon. Should there is, the reshuffle will be based on the ministers’ performances, not the vote results.–Matchon
  • On the last day of the censure debate, Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome dropped the mother of all bombs at the administration by raising questions on the so-called “elephant ticket”.
    • The ticket is allegedly a list of police officers assured of promotion issued by authority outside the Police and government. The MP asked whether the PM and Deputy PM Prawit had the knowledge of such ticket.—Thai Enquirer
    • The so-called “elephant ticket” was a letter send to ask for royal permission to appoint senior police positions and signed by the Lord Chamberlain.
    • Dissident academia Somsak Jeamteerasakul posted on his FB the letter showing the King and Queen have signed to acknowledge the ‘ticket’.—Somsak Jeamteerasakul
    • Former advisor to Deputy PM Prawit posted on his FB saying that such an appointment was nothing special as the letter was to ask the Royal permission for those police officers are part of the Palace’s police.—Thai Post
  • On Friday former Pheu Thai Chief Strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan held a press conference on the official debut of the newly established party “Sarng Thai”. Pokin Palakul, a political juggernaut said the party will focus on listening to the voices of the younger generations.—Khao Sod

Australia

  • ABC covered on the embassy’s premiere screening of the “His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua in Australia” documentary and interview a Thai journalist and an Australian academia from Australian National University. Both commentators criticised the timing of the premiere as it happens during the backdrop of a series of protests calling for monarchical reforms in Thailand and many protestors have been charged harshly for criticising the monarchy. The veteran Thai journalist said Canberra is a democratic government and “is supposed to stand for freedom of expression”, the message sending from the embassy is “very awkward”. The pundit from ANU said the embassy is “producing this documentary in a social and political context where the place of the monarchy in Thailand is becoming increasingly a fraught question.” —ABC

Economic:

Tourism

  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will propose to the COVID-19 Economic Administration Center the idea of establishing the ‘competitiveness enhancement fund’ to help tourism businesses, of which 20 percent is expected to divest from the industry.  The fund is expected to be valued at 30 billion Baht, or 1 percent of the 3 trillion Baht revenue from tourism in 2019.  The fund will help operators adapt to the post COVID-19 new norm through training and investment in new services, particularly for SMEs and family-run businesses that cannot access bank loans. TAT plans to conduct studies to determine the level of assistance required by businesses first.  Sources:  Thai RathKhaosodBangkok Post
  • Thai Hotels Association and industry bodies support the Bank of Thailand’s (BOT( and Finance Ministry’s plan to implement ‘asset warehousing’ concept to help the tourism sector.  Although no other details have been approved, Krungthai Bank expects the government to implement this scheme in March or April, slightly before the BOT’s targeted debt moratorium for SMEs expire in June.  The government also is also considering issuing legislation related to the asset warehousing and enacting a “super loan” law – referring a loan for borrowers in the special mention loan category with interest based on market rates.  Source:  Bangkok Post  Prachachat Turakij

Others

  • A former dean of Rangsit University’s Economic Faculty, Dr Anusorn Tammajai estimated that 1-1.5 million people will become jobless and 4-5 million will have lower income, of which 30-40 percent will have lower debt serviceability as COVID-19 resurgence devastates the tourism industry.  These problems are rooted in Thailand’s widening inequality, which in turn stems from political and economic monopolisation that must be overcome through reforms.  Dr Anusorn expects the Thai economy to contract by -0.50 to -1 percent in Q1 2021 and to rebound to a 3-4 percent growth in Q2.  The pandemic is forcing Thailand to adapt to the new global supply chain where it must transform from a turn-key supplier to one that can offer value-added service and product.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • Automakers in Thailand are requesting that car chip producers increase their production capacity to alleviate the global shortage amidst the surge in demand.  According to Federation of Thai Industry (FTI), domestic car manufacturers are racing to increase purchase orders for semiconductors since chip supplies have nearly run out.  The problem is compounded by the global shortage of shipping containers.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) seems to be the only flagship project that took off in recent years, with other projects making much less progress, such as the Northern Economic Corridor (NEC), Northeast Economic Corridor (NEEC) and South Economic Corridor (SEC).  These projects were set to be implemented in 2020 following the government’s allocation of 94.4 billion Baht in 2019 for regional development plans.  However, to date there are no clear action plans, framework or host agencies to drive them. 
  • FTI hopes that the political unrest in Myanmar will divert foreign investments into Thailand’s EEC, NEC, NEEC and SEC.  Nonetheless, University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) noted that Vietnam has surpassed Thailand as an investment destination because it has signed the CPTPP and Vietnam-EU FTA.  The latter could bolster Vietnam’s export to double that of Thailand.  Vietnam’s processed agricultural produce, logistics and automotive industries will benefit the most from technology-transfer from the Vietnam-EU FTA.  Sources:  Bangkok Post Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 22 February 2021
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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