Advance Blog

June 23, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 23 June 2020

News

News  

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today Thailand reports five newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,156 cases. Out of the total number, 3,023 have been discharged from hospital (or at 95.79%); 75 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The five new cases arrived from Egypt and Qatar and have been in state quarantine. This is the 29th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand. 
    • CCSA plans to allow seven groups of foreigners to enter the country. The committee has divided these into two main groups.
      The first group may be required to undertake state quarantine on entry:
      1. Business persons and investors (around 700 have registered to enter).
      2. Skilled labourers and exporters who need to inspect factories or for specific business purposes (around 22,000 have registered).
      3. Foreigners married to Thais or permanent residents of Thailand (around 2,000 have registered).
      4. Medical and wellness tourists (around 30,000 have registered).
      The other group comprises travellers who won’t need to go into quarantine on entry:
      1. Businessman on short-duration stays, including those coming into the country for business discussions. This group might need a specific area and intense screening both before travel and at arrival at airports.
      2. Government guests who are invited for ceremonies or specific seminars.
      3. Tourists under the travel bubble.
      The CCSA aims to discuss the issue in-depth with the Cabinet after finalising the details.–National News Bureau of Thailand, Nation Thailand, Reuters
    • Thai scientists administered a second dose of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine to monkeys on Monday, looking for another positive response to enable clinical trials in humans as early as October.–all media outlet

Politics

  • Deputy PM Prawit accepted the invitation of the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) to be its party leader last night at his foundation. Earlier reports said that the party will reach out to him today at the party headquarters. The picture of the invitation was distributed to the media with key persons of the party. Interestingly, there was no member of the “Fantastic 4” group led by Deputy PM Somkid. DPM Prawit said I only accept this position because everyone is in unity, there should be no more conflict.–all media outlet 
  • Following the PPRP’s landslide win in the by-election in Lampang last weekend, former Election Commission (EC) member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn claimed that the by-election is mired with vote-buying.–all media outlet
  • The PM has warned those who may wish to mobilise on 24th June to commemorate the 88th anniversary of the revolution to install a constitution in Thailand not to stir any conflicts. The PM said, the people should know what kind of situation we are all in. Student Union of Thailand as well as other civil societies, particularly in the Northeast intend to gather and read the first announcement of the People’s Party.–all media outlet
  • A sergeant who exposed corruption in the army has been granted unconditional bail from a military court for the charge of unauthorised absence.–all media outlet
  • The Senate unanimously voted to pass the budget transfer bill to reallocate 88.452 billion baht to the government’s central budget fund to curb the effects of Covid-19.–all media outlet

Business

  • Last night, the Royal Gazette published issued a royal decree stating that companies that have organised domestic seminars or business trips for employees this year will be exempted from revenue tax for the services.–all media outlet
  • The United States and Brazil lodged separate protests with Thailand over its ban on two farm chemicals earlier this month, documents reviewed by Reuters show, saying the “restrictive” and “serious” move could hurt key agricultural exports.–Reuters
  • Kasikorn Research Centre (KResearch) expects the Bank of Thailand (BoT)’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to maintain its policy rate at 0.50% at its next meeting on June 24 to see the effects of the monetary and fiscal measures introduced earlier.

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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