Advance Blog

June 22, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 22 June 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today Thailand reports three newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,151 cases. Out of the total number, 3,022 have been discharged from hospital (or at 95.91%); 71 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The three new cases arrived from India and have been in state quarantine. This is the 28th consecutive days that there is no local transmission in Thailand. The number that Thai CCSA considered the country situation of COVID-19 is at “low risk”. 
    • CCSA inner circle are planning to ease more businesses.
    • DPM Wissanu said that there is a consideration to scrap the emergency decree, but he concerns that the Disease Control Act might not be able to control the situation, should there is the 2nd wave of transmission.

Politics

  • The result of the by-election in Constituency 4 of Lampang province over the weekend was not a surprise, as the main ruling Phalang Pracharat Party (PPRP) won another House seat in the, increasing the party’s majority in the House of Representatives. Wattana Sitthiwang won 61,824 votes over his main rival Lt Somboon Klapathon of Opposition Seri Ruam Thai party who received 37,869. The incumbent from the main Opposition Pheu Thai Party did not nominate their candidacy. The government holds 276 seats vs 212 seats of the Opposition.
  • Rifts in the main opposition Pheu Thai Party was in media attention when the party chief strategist Sudarat criticised those in the party who tried to set up a new political group (CARE); meanwhile, Mr Phumtham Wechayachai, one of the CARE group founder, posted on his social media account to countered the criticism.
  • Over the weekend, news on the cabinet reshuffle was in disarray with a conflicting set of possibility:
    • On Friday, a number of media reported that the PM was fuss with the reports on the prospective cabinet reshuffle and that he messaged DPM Somkind via Line to assure the economic czar that the reshuffle will not happen that soon, saying that the daily reports on the reshuffle are non-sense. The PM aims to do it after the budget bills passed. Today, the DPM declined to comment on the report.
    • Later on, some same media reported that the PM has asked the coalition party to submit the name list for the new portfolio by 7-9 July. 
    • It is reported that Pridee Daochay from KBank will take over DPM Somkid as the next economic czar.
    • The Action Coalition for Thailand Party (which the party leader just resigned) is eyeing to nominate political scientist Anek Laothamatas to be the next Higher Education Minister. Meanwhile, there are some reports on the current government spokesperson Narumon who is also eyeing for this position.
    • “Micro-parties” (with one seat PM each) are ganging up to negotiate to be in the portfolio. Two parties are planning to dissolve themselves to merge with PPRP. It is also reported that Chatchawal Kong-udom, business tycoon, the owner of Siam Rath newspapers and formerly involved in Bangkok’s underground gambling industry is eyeing for the Deputy Minister of Interior seat.
  • The Student Union of Thailand (SUT) revealed 4 names being “targeted” by those in power. One of that was an MP from Move Forward Party Mr Rome who questioned the authority heavily on the disappearance of Thai dissident Wanchalerm. This has sparked #SaveRome on Twitter and it has reached to 1M tweets on Friday.
  • The SUT has announced that they are planning to read the 1st declaration of the People’s Party which ended absolute monarchy in Thailand back in 1932 at the democracy monument on Wednesday. 
    • Media reports that the Democracy Monument in Bangkok and the Constitution Monument in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen are guarded by 

Business

  • The Bank of Thailand (BoT) came out late on Friday to announce that commercial banks in Thailand need to suspend interim dividend payments for this year and to delay share buybacks, in order to maintain strong capital reserves to help businesses when the COVID-19 situation eases. BOT governor said  protecting commercial banks is as important as immunizing the Thai people against the virus. The BoT’s strong capital position will enable the commercial banks to increase lending to help reboot the economy post-COVID-19.–all media outlet
  • Thailand’s central bank on Friday introduced additional debt relief measures, including interest rate cuts by 2-4 percentage points for credit cards and personal loans, to help debtors during the coronavirus outbreak. The maximum interest rate for credit cards will fall to 16% per year from 18%, while the rates for personal loans will be reduced to 24-25% from 28%, effective from Aug. 1.–Reuters
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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