Advance Blog

October 28, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 28 October 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 13 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,759 cases. Out of the total number, 3,561 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.73%); 139 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 59. The newly confirmed cases are returnees from the US (1), Bangladesh (1), Jordan (4), Germany (1), UAE (2), France (1), Russia (1), and UK (2). All have been in state quarantine since.
    • The cabinet has approved the CCSA’s proposed proposal to extend the state of emergency for one more month in order to collaborate all agencies to curb the transmission of COVID-19.

Politics

  • Yesterday the Parliament debate ended with the PM and the government, despite insisting not to resign, proposing what is seen as a compromise:
    • Considering the amending of the constitution by amending Section 256 of the Constitution and to set up a Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC);
    • Setting up a reconciliation independent committee comprising of 7 conflicting parties (the government, the Coalition MPs, the Opposition MPs, the Senate, the student-led protestors, the anti-protestors and the experts);
    • Daring to hold a referendum whether he should resign as the PM.
    • This morning Deputy PM Prawit gave an interview before the weekly cabinet meeting that the government is eyeing for the discussion on the reconciliation committee as the PM had laid out during the second day of the extraordinary Parliament session.—Nation TV
  • During the debate the PM said he concerns that protestors are inviting foreign interference into Thai internal affairs. He said that it is a polarised world and the interference would have effects more than Thailand.—Krungthep turakij
  • In line with the authority way of thinking on protestors having clandestine politician supports, a media reports that intelligence and security sectors are laying their eyes on two former politicians Doctor M. and Mr. A [potentially Dr. Prommin ‘Ming’ Lertsuridej, deputy PM during Thaksin government and Phumtham ‘Auan’ Wechayachai, former Pheu Thai secretary-general] who are reportedly plotting strategies for the protest main figures. Authority is finding connection between the protestors and the two key figures of Thaksin who have some connections with former Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn.—Krungthep Turakij
  • During the debate, there was an MP from the main Opposition Pheu Thai party who made a theatrical move by slitting his arm in a symbolic action calling for the PM to resign.—all media outlet
  • The off-Parliament political movement is still ongoing:
    • Yesterday at King Rama VI statue, some former People’s Democratic Reform Committee main figures with a number of royalists holding the royal portraits of the Kings.–Matichon
    • On the stage, one of the main figure said he is eyeing to make a visit to the Japanese and French Embassies to scrutinise the residency status of two Thai academia turned dissents who are taking refuge in Kyoto and Paris on lese-majeste.—Khao Sod
    • Media is reporting on a video clip of a high school students who was slapped at the face for not standing to respect the national anthem. The reported merchant at Ayutthaya main train station was recorded scolding at the student. The student was reportedly having a period.—Khao Sod
      1. In a defiant reaction to the action against the student, the student-led protestors in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya is calling for a gathering at the train station denouncing all forms of violence.—Daily news
    • The famous actors-turned-volunteers, who announced earlier their resignation from charities to focus all their time to protect the monarchy, are calling for the royalists to gather in front of the Grand Palace on 1 November wearing yellow or pink attire. The King is scheduled to change the attire of the Emerald Buddha to the winter season on that day.—Prachachart Turakij
    • Thammasat University student groups which has been calling for not attending the graduation ceremony (which HM the King will present the certificate) posted on their FB page that on the 31 October (the graduation day) they are preparing for ‘a big surprise’ for their Majesties at the university.—Free TU Pandit
    • The police is gearing up for the gathering by a Chulalongkorn University student group at Skywalk in front of National Stadium on 29 October. The group is calling for the reminiscence of the police crackdown on 15 October. Authority is warning on the safety of gathering on the skywalk as it is not designed to handle hundreds of people standing on it.—Thai News Agency

Economic:

Impact of the Political Protest on the Economy

  • Protests sweeping across Thailand threaten to snuff out the consumption-led recovery from the nation’s worst-ever economic slump.  The protests will put more pressure on the Thai economy, which is already fragile from the impact of Covid-19 outbreak.  Unlike previous episodes of political turbulence, when the economy escaped major hits thanks to robust external demand, weak global growth now means support is limited to government measures.  The uncertainty and government’s instability could result in the discontinuity of measures, which will affect economic growth. Consumers may be reluctant to spend as protesters threaten to continue until their demands are met. That risks spoiling Finance Minister Arkhom’s bets that tax breaks and cash handouts to low-income groups can spur recovery.   Source:  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-27/thai-economy-s-covid-recovery-shaken-as-protests-pose-new-risks
  • Uncertainty over domestic political turmoil caused the Baht to depreciate and triggered foreign capital outflows in a stark contrast with foreign inflows moving into other emerging Asian stock markets. The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index plunged by 2.5 percent this month, a continuous decline from a 5 percent drop in September. The month-to-date net equity sell-off by foreign investors on the SET tallied 14 billion Baht (as of Oct 27), while YTD outflows totalling 292 billion Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • Today PM Prayut will preside over the signing of the 50.6-billion-Baht ‘Contract 2.3’ of the Sino-Thai high-speed railway linking Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima.  The signing between the State Railway of Thailand, China Railway International and China Railway Design Corporation will be followed by the 29th Thai-Chinese Train Joint Committee Meeting.  Contract 2.3 encompasses the procurement of tracks, electrical and signalling and communication systems, train carriages, personnel training, operation and maintenance works and technology transfer.  There are in total 14 contracts for the rail route from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima.  Sources: Bangkok Post The Nation Thansettakij
  • The Revenue Department collaborated with 11 financial institutions to launch the e-Witholding tax system yesterday, which is part of the department’s digital transformation.  As an incentive to attract taxpayers to use the e-withholding tax system, Revenue Department will reduce withholding tax rate to 2 percent from 3 percent until the end of 2021.  Source:  Bangkok Post The Nation
  • Since most foreigners signing up under the special tourist visa (STV) are from China, Thailand may gradually build up this market to achieve a rebound of around 7.4 million arrivals next year, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).  A part of the TAT’s marketing strategy is to target the millennial travellers who may have lower purchasing power but are less concerned about health risks.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Rubber price is surging to 80 Baht per kg and is expected to reach 100 Baht per kg soon due to fears of second-wave COVID-19 outbreak and Thailand’s limited output due to the rain, which will drive rubber export price up by 30 percent.  With demands for rubber glove soaring, Thai rubber is highly sought after by Chinese and Thai manufacturers alike.  Source:  Prachachat Turakij
  • The quota allowing 10-million individuals to register for the government’s co-payment scheme, Khon La Krueng, is now full some 5 days after the system opened for registration.  Registered individuals are required to verify their identity before they are eligible to receive the government’s subsidy.  They are required to spend within 14 days after their e-Wallet is activated.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • Trans-border trade with Myanmar at the Three Pagodas Pass was bustling yesterday as the crossing was reopened for one day to clear up a backlog of goods.  The border was closed for weeks to contain the spread of COVID-19 from Myanmar.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • The Thai-Chinese joint venture SAIC Motor-CP is to increase the number of charging outlets for Electric Vehicles (EV) to 500 next year as the firm aims to strengthen the MG brand in the Thai EV market.  The company plans to expand MG showrooms from 150 branches to 170 by year 2021, adding that it is not concerned about the student-led protests.  Source: Bangkok Post
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