Advance Blog

January 26, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 26 January 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases from clusters
95914,6466310,892 (at 74.37%)10,409
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
937 [89+848 (active case finding)] 22 (in SQ)3,679721 [700 reported by BMA yesterday + 21 by CCSA today]75 (+0)5,532
  • Thai health authority said it is ready to inoculate the first batch of Astra Zeneca vaccine to high-risk groups. Public Health Ministry is eyeing to jab 50,000 doses on 14 February to frontline health workers on a voluntary basis through Line Official Account. The health workers will need to register on 12 February. Assistant to the Public Health Minister said that the national vaccine committee will needs to decide which group will be on this first round of inoculation, but in principle, it should be health workers in Samut Sakhon, Bangkok, Mae Sot in Tak Province and Southern bordering provinces.–Matichon

Politics

  • There are more details on the reasons why the Opposition are aiming to grill ten ministers:
PositionNameCensure grounds
Prime MinisterPrayut Chan-o-chaAdministrative failures, lack of effectiveness and leadership, not faithful in constitutional monarchy, violating human rights,  undermining the healthy relationship between the monarchy and the people, exploiting the monarchy as to defend the government politically and so on
Deputy PMPrawit WongsuwanIntentionally violating the constitution and nepotism
Deputy PM and Public Health MinisterAnutin CharnvirakulAdministrative failures, failing to curb COVID-19 outbreak and trying to conceal the vaccine procurement information
Deputy PM and Commerce MinisterJurin LaksanawisitAdministrative failures, being a hypocrite, lack of good governance
Interior MinisterAnupong PaochindaAdministrative failures and nepotism
Education MinisterNataphol TeepsuwanDisrespecting human rights and good governance
Labour MinisterSuchart ChomklinAdministrative failures, failing to control migrant workers well enough to cause the second wave of transmission
Transport MinisterSaksayam ChidchobNepotism and corruption
Deputy Interior MinisterNiphon BunyamaneeLack of morals and nepotism
Deputy Agricultural MinisterThamanat PrompowAdministrative failures, conflict of interest, unfit to the ministership, appointing the de facto partner as political officials.
  • There are more updates related to the alleged conflict of interest of the national vaccine strategy and the King-owned Siam Bioscience Co.:
    • Yesterday, a small group of protestors led by Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak gathered in front of the Siam Bioscience headquarter, questioning the conflict of interest in the local vaccine production under the Astra Zeneca’s formula.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The PM gave a media brief asking people “not to connect the vaccine production deal with the King, even though the company has connection to the King”. The PM added that in the production process, the government has asked for the royal permission and will finance the operation cost.—Nation TV

Analysis/opinion

  • A media viewed the competition for the upcoming Bangkok Governor election by two potential candidates who have very close ties to the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party as the last straw of the intra-party conflicts. Main figures of different factions are reportedly said that should one day Deputy PM Prawit no longer serve as the party leader, there is no single faction which could hold the party together. A main figure in the party analysed that in the near future, Thai political landscape, particularly in Bangkok, will be ruled by either Left or Right; either Orange (Future Forward Party’s colour) or Yellow (Royalist). The analysis showed that there are three main figures which could determine who can ultimately win over the gubernatorial seat: former Deputy PM and People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban who still have a strong fans in Bangkok; former Pheu Thai chief strategist Sudarat Keyurapan whose political stronghold is in Eastern Bangkok; and the Prime Minister who also has a strong supporter in Bangkok and his popularity has helped PPRP won 12 MPS.—Krungthep Turakij

Australia

  • Ambassador McKinnon did an exclusive interview on bilateral relations on the Australia Day occasion. Australia and Thailand has been enjoying the long-standing close relations from being top 10 investment partner, defence collaborations, education to ASEAN engagements. Australian-Thai relations vis-à-vis ASEAN are in Mekong sub-region development, whereby Canberra provides financial support to country in the subregion on different schemes, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Ambassador mentioned the Royal Visit of King Rama IX and Queen Sirikit to Australia in 1962, setting the milestone as the first non-UK monarch to visit Australia at the time. The relationship also expands to broader political engagement with the fresh escalation of ties to that of Strategic Partnership. Economically, both countries enjoyed having free trade agreement and being part of regional RCEP. Ambassador was quoted saying Australia wanted to see India joining the RCEP and that the spotlight is now on the fresh Biden administration. The interview ended with the concerns on Australian-Chines trade disputes. China has been using means to disrupt the bilateral trade and raising restrictions on many Australian core export products. Canberra has been very open in negotiating with Beijing on the issue, but didn’t have a response. The dispute is now with the WTO.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

Ambassador McKinnon’s interview

  • Australian Ambassador Allan McKinnon PSM decried the high excise tax Thai authorities imposed on Australian wines exclusively to The Nation.  A separate interview with the Thai Excise Department revealed that authorities think they could collect more tax revenue on wine, although they are currently revising the tax regime.  The article also features a 1-minute video clip of Ambassador McKinnon discussing about TAFTA and the sound trade and investment relationship between Thailand and Australia.  Ambassador McKinnon also praised the Thai government for taking actions on improving its business environment in order to facilitate foreign businesses to establish its presence here.  Source: The Nation

Financing for COVID-19 Stimulus Packages

  • Finance Ministry reported that it has borrowed 39 percent (39.4 billion Baht) of the 1-trillion-Baht loan allocated for combating COVID-19 in year 2020.  The remaining loan will be made in 2021, with public debt to GDP expected to reach 56 percent.  Included in the debt management plan is the procurement of budget worth 210 billion for the Rao Chana cash-handout scheme.  Overall, Finance Ministry plans to borrow 2.3 trillion Baht in FY2021 from bond issuance, Treasury Bills, Promissory Notes and loan from Asian Development Bank.  Source:  Prachachat Turakij
  • Finance Ministry will issue ‘Rao Chana’ government savings bonds worth 60 billion Baht to raise funds for COVID-19 economic relief and recovery projects. 
  • The first batch of bonds worth 5 billion Baht will be distributed through the Public Debt Management Office’s wallet app from 1-19 February.  The bonds have a 5-year maturity date, with a step-up interest of 2 percent per annum.
  • The remaining 55 billion Baht will be issued through 5, 10, and 15-year bonds.  The step-up interest is 2 per cent annually for 5-year bond; 2.5 per cent for 10-year bond; and 1.8 percent for 15-year bond.  The 5 and 10-year bond will be offered to the public through 4 banks from February 5 to 15.  The 15-year bond will be offered to NGOs designated by Finance Ministry from February 16-19.  Sources:  Ministry of Finance Press Release  The Nation  Bangkok Post

Tourism

  • Tourism and Sports Ministry reported Thailand received 6.7 million international visitors last year, with revenue of 332 billion Baht, equivalent to an 82.6 percent plunge from 2019.  The Tourism Department plans to generate 3 billion Baht from international film crews in 2021.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand reveals that 35 percent of tourism businesses from the 1884 businesses surveyed from 1- 15 January have shut down as a result of COVID-19.   Source:  Khao Sod

Others

  • The Craft Beer Association of Thailand (CBAT) demanded that the government drop the ban on alcohol sales in restaurants and allow bars to re-open.  CBAT members were worst hit this time than the previous pandemic outbreak as the government has banned online sales of alcoholic beverages since 7 December 2020.  CBAT members rallied at the COVID-19 task force’s headquarters as well as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to submit their request.  Interior Ministry will pass their request to CCSA for consideration.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO) signed an MOU with PTT Group to develop the Eastern Fruits Economic Corridor (EFC) in Rayong province.  The 350-million-Baht project will feature blast freezer and cold storage unit to boost the trade of value-added agricultural products in the eastern region, in line with the government 5-year agricultural plan (2020-2024).  Land spanning 40 rai located in the Smart Park industrial Estate in Map Ta Phut will be allocated to this project.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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