Advance Blog

July 29, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 29 July 2020

News

  • Yesterday, the entire country celebrated the King’s 68th Birthday with drones portraying the King’s portrait on the sky over the Royal Plaza (Sanam Luang)
  • Updates related to COVID-19:
  • Today, Thailand reports a newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,298 cases. Out of the total number, 3,111 have been discharged from hospital; 129 are being hospitalised (at 94.33%). The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed case is a Thai national returned from the US (Thai military returned from training in Hawai’i), and has been in state quarantine since. This is the 65th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
  • Thai media are reporting on Thailand being ranked best in Recovery Rating of the Global COVID Index (GCI). In mid-June Thailand ranked second to Australia.—Nation TV
  • The development regarding the dropping of all charges against Red Bull heir is still unfolding:
  • This morning the PM has penned down the establishment of a committee to look into the decision of the attorney-general office. The probe committee will work within the 30-day timeframe.—Thai Post

Politics

  • The anti-government flash mobs are still keeping its momentum with some of them gained international coverage:
    • This morning a group of high school students marched to the Ministry of Education under “Student Pride” to hand over its four propositions regarding LGBTQ+, including hair style, costumes, proper understanding of LGBTQ+ and discrimination.—Voice TV
    • On Sunday, protestors, mostly high-school students participated in a mocking demonstration singing Japanese animation song while marching around the Democracy Monument.—Nikkei Asian Review, Reuters
    • On Saturday, LGBTQI protestors took the street in front of Democracy Monument to call for student movements three main propositions and to call for equal marriage.—Voice TV, Reuters
    • Pro-government protests will gather tomorrow to call for the protection of the monarchy. The protest is led by the vocational students groups. The organiser turned out to be one of the recruiters of the now-defunct pro-coup People’s Democratic Reform Committee and unelected MP candidate for the governing Action Coalition for Thailand. Historically, the vocational students were part of the ultra-right wing groups against socialist movement backed in the late 70s —Inside Thailand
    • The Free Youth Movement, the main ignitor of the latest series of flash mobs, announced through its outlet that this Saturday (the deadline the group gave the government to fulfil its three propositions: dissolution of parliament, new constitution and stop harassment of dissents) will not yet mean they will organise a mass demonstration. What they will respond, should the government dismissed the requests remained unknown.—Free Youth
  • Breaking: ahigh-ranking source in the main opposition Pheu Thai Party said that ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin has approved the party’s chief strategist Sudarat to be the party candidate for up-coming Bangkok Governor Election.–Prachachart
  • The acting Finance Minister has submitted the name of Mr Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput as the new Bank of Thailand Governor.—Krungthep Turakij

Business:

  • Predee Daochai, Co-President of Kasikornbank and Chairman of the Thai Bankers’ Association, who is expected to become Deputy Prime Minister and also the Finance Minister, has resigned from his posts on 24 July in a move that could pave the way for his appointment.  Supattanapong Punmeechaow, the Director of PTT Global Chemical Plc (PTTGC) on 24 July also resigned from his position amidst the speculation that he will become the new Energy Minister.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1957103/predee-quits-kasikornbank-ahead-of-taking-cabinet-job

EEC – Investment and Infrastructure

  • Dr Luxmon Attapich, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO), said the EEC project will not be disrupted by the cabinet reshuffle.  The EECO did not revise the timeline for the EEC’s 3 flagship projects, which remained scheduled to be completed in four years, namely:
  • High-speed rail network linking three airports, worth 224 billion Baht, in which State Railway Thailand signed contract with the winning bidder, CP Group consortium on 24 October, 2019
  • Eastern Airport City project at U-tapao, Rayong, worth 290 billion Baht.  The government signed the contract with BBS consortium on 19 June.  The government’s current focus is on developing the smart city.
  • The MRO project at U-Tapao is likely to be delayed
  • The third phase of Map Ta Phut deep seaport development, worth 55.4 billion Baht.  The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand signed a PPP contract with Gulf MTP LNG Terminal on 1 October 2019.
  • For the remaining six months of the year, the government will focus on attracting investments into food, beauty, medical, aerospace and 5G technology-related businesses.
  • Investment in the EEC is likely to recover in the latter half of the year, driven by higher demand from foreign investors who will rev up relocation of production bases out of China and higher confidence in the government’s effectiveness in outbreak management.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1959175/cabinet-exodus-shakes-faith-in-eec
  • Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) views the EEC as a key economic tool to drive the domestic economy in the post-pandemic period.  In the short-run, the FTI urges the government to find ways to help businesses as coronavirus relief packages near expiration.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1957199/fti-says-contagion-an-opportunity-to-push-eec
  • The State Railway of Thailand has conducted a feasibility study on Phase 2 of the high-speed railway linking the 3 airports and revealed that it may not be worth investing in due to low passenger numbers.  Phase 2 will trail the routes U-Tapao-Rayong-Chantaburi-Trat provinces.  The study, set for completion in August, will be forwarded to the government’s committee on special development of the eastern special area development policy and then to the cabinet for endorsement.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1958427/cold-water-poured-on-rail-projects

Food Export

  • Thai food exports are picking up as many countries are increasing imports amid quarantine conditions.  Food exports have grown 20 percent, with high demands fresh, frozen chicken, processed seafood, including ready-to-eat food, and foods that contain herbs, according to International Trade Promotion Department.  Source: National News Bureau of Thailand fb page, 28 July 2020
  • Thailand exported USD 567 million worth of Durians to China in the first four months of 2020, up 78% YoY.  Trade Negotiations Department’s DG Auramon attributes the robust growth partly to FTAs and advance orders placed by Chinese fruit dealers before the start of the annual harvest season.  CP Group added that Thailand’s Durian supply is far from satisfying strong demand in China.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1958175/china-demand-spiking-for-thai-durian

Others

ASEAN/World

  • Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak was found guilty Tuesday of corruption over the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal that cost him his government, and could face decades in jail.—Thai PBS World, Manager

Australia

  • Australia and the US will expand military cooperation as the two countries’ relations with China have been increasingly sour. The heads of Defence and Foreign Affairs met in Washington and issued a joint statement to maintain rule of law in the South China Sea. Australian Foreign Minister, however, said Australia does not agree with the US on every front regarding China. Minister Payne said the relations with China is also crucial to Australia.—Bangkok Post; The Standard
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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