Advance Blog

February 23, 2022
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 21 February 2022

News

Newly confirmed casesTotal CasesDeath tollHospitalised/ intensive care patients
18,883 ( as update 12.30 pm) Domestic +18,618 Abroad+162 Prison+172,542,145             32166,397  
Total vaccination1st dose vaccine recipients (28 Jan -20 Feb)2nd dose vaccine recipients (28 Jan -20 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (28 Jan -20 Feb)
121,725,326 (+141,661)53,126,900 (+26,544  yesterday)   76.4 %49,471,890 (+13,130 yesterday)   71.1 %14,900,311 (+101,987 yesterday)   27.5%

  Sources : Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and Department of Control 

Covid-19 and other regulations

·        Covid new infections reached to the peak today with almost 20,000 infected persons. The  spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration stated that “ Nineteen of them, or 60%, were unvaccinated. Eight, or 25%, had received two vaccine doses, but more than four months ago. Five had two doses within the past four months but had not received their third shot,” Bangkokpost

·         Thailand will consider a recommendation from an airline tycoon to reduce the steps required for international entry, by doing away the second COVID-19 test, currently required on the fifth day after arrival. ThaiPBS

A public exposure on former police officer, who is in exile in Australia  after investigation on human trafficking which  involved with high-profile public figures

  • Following the controversial disclosure from Rangsiman Rome, Move Forward Party list-MP that released the story  of  Pol Maj Gen Paween Pongsirin, former lead investigator into the Rohingya smuggling who fled to Australia in 2015 for asylum after he received death threats following the arrest and conviction of many senior figures for trafficking during the parliamentary debate.   You can read Gen Parveen’s Statutory Declaration here

There  are  there are more developments from government sides and others as follows;

–       Prime Minister Prayut Chan O-Cha said that the government has ramped up their efforts to fight human trafficking in Thailand  adding that Gen Paween are welcomed return to Thailand legally to prove his innocence.

–       Additionally, the Government spokesperson demonstrated the polls released by Super Polls that people are satisfied with government in tackling human trafficking issue.

–       Meanwhile, Chulalongkorn University’s Office of the Student Affairs has announced that it will propose that an honorary doctorate in public administration from the university to Gen Paween for his contribution in anti-human trafficking   Thenation Thairath

–       Further, Thai Enquirer, digital news outlet released the Opinion piece today stating that the cases of Paveen is not surprising to see the state engage with corruption. However, the writer advised that in order to change the system, wholesale reforms and harsher sentences are warranted but also greater protections for journalists and whistle-blowers who question and investigate the system. Thaienquirer

Other news

  • The Ministry of Interior and the Office of the Election Commission are  are discussing the  Bangkok’s gubernatorial and city councilor and Pattaya City’s mayoral and city councillor election period. The  The proposed dates are Sunday May 22nd or Sunday May 29th.ThaiPBS
  • Following the emerging conflict in Palang Pracharath (PPRP), with two factions in Chon Buri province trading jibe between Culture Minister, Sontaya Khunplem and Suchart Chomklin, Labour Minister , the PPRP registrar today told the press that the prolonged dispute between the two is now solved with the help from Prime Minister Prayut  Posttoday

Economic news

Akara Mine and Parliamentary Debate

  • During the debate in parliament on Friday, the opposition accused PM Prayut of renewing gold mining license to Akara mines in exchange for Australia’s Kingsgate company withdrawing the TAFTA lawsuit.  PM Prayut said the invocation of Section 44 to close down Akara mines in 2016 was to protect the health of the people living around the mine, many of whom allegedly suffer from toxic substances that leaked from the mines.  In addition to Akara mine, he noted that other gold mining were also shut using the broad powers of Section 44.  Source:  ThaiPBS World
  • Industry Minister Suriya dismissed the opposition’s allegations that the deferral of TAFTA tribunal verdict reading is the result of Thailand giving something away to Kingsgate. 
  • Minister Suirya also dismissed the allegation that the Thai government renewed the license for Akara mine to explore gold and silver on 44 plots of land for the same reason. Akara mine had submitted the applications years ago, but re-submitted them in 2017 when Thailand’s gold policies were finalised.  But Akara did not follow up on the applications because it feared this may affect the TAFTA trial.  However, gold prices began increasing, leading Akara to re-submit the application, which the Thai government granted in 2020.  The exploration could be only conducted on limited areas to ensure there is no forest encroachment.
  • Regarding the allegation that the Thai government allowed Akara to sell gold and silver sludge from its mines in exchange for it withdrawing the TAFTA lawsuit, Minister Suriya said Akara mine had always converted gold and silver sludge from its mines into gold and silver bars for export.  Since the government suspended Akara’s mining activities in 2016, Akara had some leftover gold and silver sludge at its mines.  When the suspension was temporarily lifted on 9 August 2017, Akara could in principle sell the gold and silver sludge.
  • Minister Suriya added that it was during PM Thaksins’ reign (2003-2005) that the government began opening up Thailand to mining and exploration activities.  However, all applications were halted after a ‘coup took place in 2007 and gold policies were revised to ensure the mining will benefit the country and the people.  Source:  Kom Chad Luek  Matichon
  • PM Prayut also defended the government’s decision to renew Akara’s licences for gold and silver mining for another 10 years, insisting that it is lawful.  The company will be allowed to resume mining only if it can comply with stricter requirements under the amended Minerals Act 2017.  Even though the legal dispute between Kingsgate and the government is pending, this does not restrict the company’s right to apply for an extension of its licences.  Kingsgate followed the same application procedures as other firms, and that is why it was granted an extension of its licences.  Since the amended Minerals Act 2017 was enacted, more than 100 companies applied for new licences or sought extensions, including Akara, according to the PM.  Source:  Bangkok Post 

Others

  • The boards of True and DTAC had greenlighted the merger between both companies, but the decision will be discussed at the shareholders’ meeting again in April.  Analysts believe there is a 60-70 percent chance that the merger will succeed, with the only obstacles being NBTC’s ruling and OTCC’s intervention on the grounds that the merger will lead to monopolisation.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 21 February 2022
  • CP Conglomerate had set an ambitious goal of transforming into a global ‘tech company’ by diversifying into space technology, start-up, clouds, internet of things, digital media and AI. This will become possible once the merger between True and DTAC materialises.  Gulf Technology Development, the leader in electric energy, is also planning a merger with satellite operator Intuch Holding in a move to become a digital infrastructure business that will span energy, infrastructure and digital technology.  For example, it is looking to foray into digital asset trading.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij
  • Thailand will see its annual car production increase to more than 2 million units within 2 years, or back to pre-pandemic level due to the global economic recovery, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).  FTI expects car production to increase again this year to 1.8 million units, following last year’s production of 1.68 million units which was an increase of 18 percent YoY.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Despite a forecast of 25 percent growth in residential transfers this year, reaching the pre-pandemic level in 2019 might take until 2024 because of the rising inflation, according to the Real Estate Information Centre (REIC).  Source:  Bangkok Post

The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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