Advance Blog

August 25, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 25 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports five newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,402 cases. Out of the total number, 3,229 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.91%); 115 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thais returned from Oman, Turkey, Indonesia, and the US. This is the 92nd consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.

Politics

  • Royal Thai Navy (RTN) held a press conference yesterday in a bid to legitimise the procurement of the second and third submarine from PRC.
    • RTN denounced the politicisation of the procurement by opposition Pheu Thai party and media, underlining that the procurement is only under internationally strategic rationale.
    • RTN said the procurement cannot be deferred due to ‘promotional price’ term which would be only valid by September this year. RTN added that if it fails to conclude the deal within the term, the status of Thai in further negotiation would be jeop
  • There are developments on the student protest fronts:
    • Student activist Panupong Jaadnok was arrested for his hi-parked at Thammasat University on 10 August as he was protesting the government when the cabinet is holding mobile Cabinet meeting today.—all media outlet
  • Social media Facebook blocked access within Thailand to a group (Royalist Marketplace) with 1 million members that discusses the country’s king, after the Thai government threatened legal action over failure to take down content deemed defamatory to the monarchy. The group was created in April by Thai dissent academia Pavin Chachavalpongpun.—Reuters Within four hours after the blockade, there has been a great virtual migrant to the new group with 270 thousands members.–Prachatai
    • Facebook is reportedly plans to sue the Royal Thai Government after it demanded the company prevent users from accessing to the group.–CNN, Business Insider
    • A group calling themselves “Group for the Nation, Religion and Monarchy” is handed over an open letter at the Japanese Embassy requesting the Japanese authority to prevent Pavin who is residing in Kyoto from harassing the monarchy online. The group requested sending Pavin back to be prosecuted in Thailand. Should there is no development, the group will escalate.—Thai Move Institute

Business:

  • PM Prayut opened a new 32-km motorway linking Bangkok – Chonburi- Rayong provinces during his visit to Rayong yesterday.  It is Thailand’s first inter-city motorway connecting land, water and air transportation systems.  It links Bangkok with the EEC zone and is also crucial to Thailand’s export sector.  The motorway is key to the government’s 20-year national strategy and cost 17.78 billion Baht to build.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Industry Ministry will ask the cabinet to approve a 12-billion-baht Smart Park industrial estate as well new tax measures to stimulate car sales in the post-pandemic period.  Located in the EEC province of Map Tha Phut, the Smart Park aims to pilot the ‘Smart Eco’ development model to serve the 12 targeted S-curve industries.  Construction is slated for completion in 3 years. 
  • Industry Ministry confirmed that Exxon Mobil Corporation’s 330-billion Baht investment in an ethylene cracker and refinery expansion project in Sri Racha, Chon Buri will be delayed due to the pandemic.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Mitsubishi Motors Thailand remains committed to a 20-billion-baht investment in the country next year, but will focus on electric vehicle (EV) exports.  Some 13 billion Baht will be spent on an EV production facility to produce 3,000 EVs and the remaining 7 billion Baht for a new car spray painting facility. 
  • Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors, which took over production facilities from US car giant GM in Thailand, plans to improve its manufacturing base in Rayong by October and expects to begin production in 2021.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Nation TV
  • Ministry of Commerce (MoC) expects export to contract by 8-9 percent in 2020, valued at USD 224-227 billion.  Although Thailand’s export has passed the lowest point last month and showed signs of recovery in July with a smaller contraction of 11.4 percent YoY, MoC warns that recovery remains nascent due to many uncertainties related to the pandemic and global economic slowdown.  Source:  Bangkok Post Thai PBS World

Tourism

  • In the first 7 months of 2020, Thailand’s foreign tourist number saw a 71 percent decline YoY (6.69 million tourists), while spending fell by 70.4 percent (332 billion Baht).  Thailand had recorded no tourists since April 2020 when it imposed a travel ban, but the country plans to allow foreign tourists to visit Phuket island from October onward.  Tourism Ministry anticipates 2 million foreign arrivals would visit Thailand from October 2020 – March 2021 as other provinces adopt similar arrangements to Phuket.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism operators in Rayong province calls on the government to extend the tourism stimulus campaign from October until the end of the year, provide more accessible soft loans to operators and organise more events for Koh Samet to attract visitors.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Department of Health Service Support will ask the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to approve its ‘villa quarantine’ scheme, which would allow international tourists to indulge in spa and other wellbeing treatments at certified hotels during the 14-day quarantine.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Hong Kong has restarted discussions with Japan and Thailand and a handful of other countries over setting up travel bubbles.  Discussions with Japan and Thailand are in more advanced stages compared with other countries.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • Ministry of Finance said Revenue collection for fiscal 2021 warrants concern because of the pass-through effect from this year’s economic slowdown.  Revenue Dept plans to introduce a digital system designed for revenue collection starting on Oct 1.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry is gearing up efforts to support 2,000 digital community centres nationwide to facilitate public service access and online learning to help people have greater opportunity in the online economy.  The move is to achieve sustainable development via the existing national broadband network for villages called Net Pracharat.  Source:  Bangkok Post

ASEAN/World

  • In the Lanchang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) meeting yesterday, the Chinese premiere pledged to prioritise the distribution of the practical COVID-19 vaccine to countries in the Mekong region.—Nation TV

Opinion/analysis

  • An opinion piece pondering on the lasts wave of protests as a reaction to the expanding royal realm under King Vajiralongkorn. The author wrote “How the situation proceeds from here is unclear, but Vajiralongkorn’s reign has opened up a yawning divide between royalist propaganda, which depicts the king as a devoted figure striving for the people’s betterment, and the unsavory reality. Past precedent suggests that Thailand’s king will meet calls for real political reform not with compromise, but with coercion”.—Asia Nikkei Review
  • An opinion piece by a Thai ‘upper class’ on the toxic culture of elitism. The author criticised the Thai elite’s mindset which claim to dismiss the inequality at face and a stark separation between ‘us’ the elite and ‘them’ the lower class.–ThisRupt
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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