Advance Blog

May 27, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 27 May 2021

News 

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
3,323 (1,219 from prisons)142,2171,201/ 39993,828 (at 66.41%)112,3542,214,721(+57,112) (= 3.346 %  of the population)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
2,083 [1,132 (get tested in hospital) + 951 (active case finding)]21 (in SQ)46,469 [28,134 in field hospital]37,436 (+894)920 (+47) *new record3,208,882994,161 (+4,543) (=1.502 % of the population)
  • Last night saw the new development in the national vaccine procurement scheme as the Royal Gazette published an announcement indicating that the Chulabhorn Royal Academy is given powers to act unilaterally to secure vaccines and act in the public’s interest on issues concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. The announcement was signed by HRH Princess Chulabhorn, the chairperson of the Royal Academy.—Royal Gazette
    • The Royal Academy is scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow on the announcement and the procurement of SinoPhram vaccine widely used in China. The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin and the Secretary-general of the Royal Academy will lead the press conference.
    • Deputy PM Anutin gave an interview saying that the just has the knowledge of the announcement once the Gazette was published. Anutin said that he needs to consult with Deputy PM Wissanu, the legal pundit of the government first on how the Public Health Ministry should act.—Inside Thailand
    • In a press briefing yesterday, the CCSA spokesperson said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had got the affirmation from the Indian Ambassador that there is no Indian diplomat getting the virus.—Thai Rath
    • The Public Health Ministry spokesperson said that the AstraZeneca vaccines will be delivered to the Kingdom in June, but not on 1 June.—Thai Rath
    • The government spokesperson said the PM has agreed to the use of Thai local herb ‘Fa Ta Lai Jone’ (green chireta) to treat people infected with COVID-19 in conjunction with Favipiravir.—Thai Rath

Politics

  • The Deputy PM and legal pundit Wissanu said that the case the former Finance Minister filed to the Administrative Court on the legality of fresh 500 billion THB loan bill is no longer valid as the Decree has been gazetted. The former Fence Minister took the issue to the court pointing out that the loan aiming to revitalise the economy during the pandemic was not done using the normal check and balance committee.—Thai Rath
  • The Deputy PM said that should the decree doe not pass the House approval, the PM needs, by tradition, to dissolve the Parliament as the decree is about finance and considered a significant bill.—Naew Na
  • Anti-government group led by former Red Shirt leader went to handover a letter to the ruling Bhumjaithai Party calling the party to leave the coalition. The ‘Thai Mai Thon (Thai people tolerate no more)’ group which has been pressuring the PM to resign and calling for ruling parties to revoke their support from the coalition sent message to the BJT Party leader saying that he could be the PM if Prayut resigns.—Krungthep Turakij
  • DPM and BJT leader Anutin said in response to the Thai Mai Thon comment that the Bhumjaithai Party has no say in the coalition and has no use staying in the coalition that this is up to the PM whether he still see the values of BJT being part of the government.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Earlier today, the Thai Mai Thon went to hand over letter to the Army Chief, calling for the Generals to revoke their support from the government.—Krungthep Turakij
  • After the PM has made an order to defer the registration for vaccine on the national-level ‘Mor Prom’ application, there have been political reactions from coalition parties:
  • Deputy Public Health minister from Democrat said he disagreed with the continual changes of the vaccine roll-out and has urged the CCSA under the PM direct control to has an explanation on this.—Matichon
  • Transport Minister from Bhumjaithai Party said this issue should be addressed by the CCSA or the PM who led the CCSA.—Matichon
  • It is reported that after filming a birthday video message for the Queen, the PM, together with the Foreign Minister, the Public Health Minister, the Transport Minister, the Education Minister, the Justice Minister, the Industry Minister (without the presence of minister from Democrat) to hold a meeting at the Government House. It is expected that the meeting is about the deferment of the registration.—Matichon
  • Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Don said that after the Digital Economy is seeking a mean to file a case and extradite Paris-based Monarchy critic Somsak Jaemtirasakul back to the Kingdom, the related agency is coordinating with French authority on this.—Krungthep Turakij

Analysis/ opinion

  • Oxford PhD student and son to the former ASEAN Chairman, Faudi Pitsuwan wrote an opinion piece on the ‘royal intervention’ by HRH Princess Chulabhorn through her institution into the vaccine procurement schemes. The political scientist wrote that though it is nice of the Princess to take the people’s welfare in her own hands, the ‘intervention’ would make the monarchy under criticism for being politicised. He wrote ‘For now, we can be sure that the ruling elites have split and that move by HRH Princess Chulabhorn has highlighted the royal anxiety over the government’s mishandling of the crisis. What this means in practice is that our government is no longer in control of its health care apparatus and there is a functioning, competing alternative health-care system led by HRH Princess Chulabhorn herself.’—Thai Enquirer

Australia

Economic:

CPTPP

  • DPM Don and Agriculture Minister Chalermchai convened a meeting last week to discuss CPTPP.  Agriculture Ministry needed more time to address the concerns of the farmers as well as to make sure that CPTPP does not hurt Thailand’s agricultural sector.  Agriculture Ministry is not against Thailand joining CPTPP, but reiterated that these concerns must be resolved first.  Source:  Thai Government Press Release Prachachat Turakij  Krungthep Turakij
  • Assistant Professor Pitti Srisangnam of Chulalongkorn University’s ASEAN Centre debunked the myth that Thailand will not be able to domestically manufacture the anti-virus medication Favipiravir (used in treating COVID-19 patients) if it joins CPTPP due to patent linkage restriction.   Dr Piti said that Thailand could still exercise Compulsory Licensing in accordance with WTO rules and regulations as stated in Chapter 18.6: Understandings Regarding Certain Public Health Measures.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • FTA Watch together with some 17 NGOs issued a statement calling for PM Prayut to stop his attempt in pushing Thailand to join the negotiation for CPTPP accession.  Their statement said the CPTPP Committee headed by DPM Don has been trying to lobby government agencies to accept Compulsory Licensing provision and that the Committee had misinterpreted the UPOV 1991.  They noted DPM Don had not held public consultations with civil society organisations despite the DPM claiming otherwise.  Source:  Isra News Kom Chad Luek

Others

  • An executive decree allowing the government to borrow 500 billion Baht to combat COVID-19 was published in The Royal Gazette and enforced on 25 May.  The loan will be deliberated by the parliament after the budget bill debate next week.
  • DPM Supattanapong disclosed that the government is preparing for future uncertainties by laying down the mechanism to secure the loan if needed.  However, the government may not have to borrow at all if the pandemic is contained, with the cooperation of all Thais.  DPM Supattanapong said the loan amount of 500 billion Baht is sufficient to stimulate the economy as nationwide vaccination will alleviate the severity of the situation.
  • Breakdown of the 500 billion Baht loan:
  • 300 billion Baht (60 percent) is for remedying affected people and businesses
  • 170 billion baht (34%) to rehabilitate the economy through projects that maintaining employment and generate jobs for new graduates.  It will also be spent on stimulating investment and consumption, building basic infrastructure and helping SMEs access the Bank of Thailand’s soft loan.
  • 30 billion baht (6%) is curb the spread of COVID-19 and enhance public health system, such as buying medical equipment and vaccines and improving medical facilities for COVID patients.
  • Finance Minister Akhom expected the loan and its ensuing stimulus packages to boost the 2021 GDP growth by another +1.5 percent, which will add to MoF’s forecast of a +2.5 percent growth.  If the loan is made, the public debt-to-GDP ratio will reach 58.6 percent, which remains under the 60 percent ceiling.  Sources:  Cabinet’s press conference, 25 May 2021  Krungthep Turakij  Finance Ministry Press Release  Bangkok Post Bangkok Post Royal Gazette Publication 500 million Baht loan_May2021 
  • Thailand’s April 2021 export saw the highest growth in 36 months, surging by +13.09 percent YoY (value: USD 21.4 billion), while import rose by +29.8 precent (value: USD 21.3 billion), imparting a USD182 million trade surplus.  This owes largely to the strong expansion in the exports of agricultural and food products; electrical appliances and PPE items. In the first 4 months of 2021, exports grew by +4.78 percent and imports by +13.9 percent, resulting in a USD 698 million trade surplus. Commerce Minister Jurin attributed the export uptick to the cooperation between MoC and the private sector through the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee on Commerce that eliminated export impediments and speed up reopening of border trade.  Source:   Thansettakij Bangkok Post
  • NESDC revealed that Thailand’s unemployment rate in Q1 of 2021 hit 1.96 percent (equivalent to 758,000 jobless workers), reaching a 12-year high since the financial crisis in 2009 due to the impact of the third pandemic outbreak.    NESDC noted that the GDP of MSMEs has contracted by 9 percent and tourism is not anticipated to recover until 2026, which could trigger further unemployment.
  • NESDC also reported that Q4 of 2020 household debt was 14.02 trillion Baht, an increase of 3.9 percent and also accounted for 89.3 percent of GDP.  The situation is expected to exacerbate in 2021 as the economy remains embroiled in COVID-19 outbreaks.  This will impact on household income and liquidity.  Sources:  Prachachart Turakij  Bangkok Post  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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