Advance Blog

July 30, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 30 July 2020

News

Updates related to COVID-19:

  • Today, Thailand reports six newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,304 cases. Out of the total number, 3,111 have been discharged from hospital; 135 are being hospitalised (at 94.16%). The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed case is a Thai national returned from Egypt (4) and Saudi Arabia (2), and has been in state quarantine since. This is the 66th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
  • The cabinet has approved CCSA proposal to extend the state of emergency for one more month in an attempt to collaborate the administrations in curbing COVID-19.
  • The development regarding the dropping of all charges against Red Bull heir is still developing:
    • TCP Group (Yoovidhaya extended family) has issued a statement saying that they are not related to the case of Mr Vorayuth. And that they asked Mr Vorayuth to clear public doubt over the hit-and-run case.
    • Authorities have responded to the case by setting up probing committees:
      • The Office of Attorney-General, on 28th July, set up a committee to look into the motives of the OAG decision and the legality of the decision. The timeframe of the probe is within seven days.—The Standard
      • Police Chief has also set up a committee to look into the legality of the police dropping all charges as the OAG suggested. The timeframe of the study is within 15 days.—Channel7
      •  The PM has ordered setting-up an independent committee consisting of academia to probe into the case. The timeframe is within 30 days.—Krungthep Turakij, AP
    • Yesterday, the Police said that the decision of the Police and the Attorney-General is ultimate and cannot be revised. Only with the victim intend to revise the investigation, the case could then be continued.—all media outlet
    • Last night, the first witness who said in 2019 that Mr Vorayuth drove his car at around 50-60 km/hr not 177 km/hr as earlier indicated passed away in an accident.—Isra News Agency
  • The Director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Center under the Royal Thai Police, said Thailand had a shortage of officers based outside the capital with expertise in investigating cases of human trafficking. The Police vowed to boost training for police nationwide to better respond to a rising number of cases of sexual exploitation and forced labour.–Reuters

Politics

  • The flash mobs are still on bulletin:
    • Today, a group of vocational school students and alumni will gather at the Democracy Monument to read their statement protecting the monarchy. The PM has warned against possible confrontation between protestors.
    • Broken out by an MP from Move Forward Party and later distributed online, an internal police memo showed that the authority is deploying Border Patrol Police to control the situation in the upcoming mass demonstration this Saturday. The document also showed that the authority is arranging venue to arrest 100 protestors and five protest leaders.–Prachatai, Nation Weekend, Thai Post
    • On a related note, ultra-royalist doctor, “Garbage-collection” group leader, Mongkutwattana Hospital’s director and one of the PM hand-picked counsels to study the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 Dr Rianthong Nanna has launched a “Closing-down Opportunity” campaign against the young protestors. He has asked his followers to camouflage into the anti-government protestors and take a picture of the protestors who might have hold signs that could irritate the monarchy. He will publicly publish the name of the protestors and ask for social sanctions, including sending the name lists to companies not to recruit these protestors. Former PM hand-picked National Reform Council member Ticha Na Nakorn came out to warn the campaign might be unconstitutional and violating basic human rights. She said the National Commission on Human Rights needs to look into the issue.—Thai Post
  • In the press briefing after the weekly cabinet meeting, the PM said that his personal portfolio quotas are ready and now in vetting process. The PM will present the list to HM the King for royal endorsement by mid-August.—all media outlet
  • Move Forward Party spearheaded in a bill seeking constitutional amendments. The secretary-general of the party said they are seeking to collect 1/5 of MPs from both sides, proposing three motions:
    • Setting-up Constitution Drafting Committee
    • Abolition of current appointed senators
    • Abolition of all NCPO orders and announcements—all media outlet
  • In response to the news quoted a high-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. Khunying Sudarat came out to dismiss the report and said that this report may end up causing the dissolution of the Pheu Thai party.—The Standard
    • Breaking: Pheu Thai Party leader announced the party’s resolution to have Khunying Sudarat as the chairperson in recruiting candidates for Bangkok’s gubernatorial and local elections. The party will invite former Transport Minister and party’s PM candidate Chatchart to run for the Bangkok Governor election on the party’s behalf. The party leader denied that ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin involved in any of these processes.–ThaiPBS
  • Regarding the rift within the Royal Thai Police, the Police chief has ordered Deputy Police Chief to be “สำรองราชการ” (might mean somewhat removed from his current position and in a pending investigation) as Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta allegedly leaked the conversation he had with the Police Chief.—Manager, Daily News

Business:

Cabinet’s Decisions, 29 July 2020

  • Approved the amendment on the import procedures of potato under TAFTA and onion under TNZCEP.  The amendment will require that the abovementioned items are brought into Thailand through Customs entry points with plants, food and medicine screening capabilities or through entry points with relevant officials present.  Notifications are being drafted.  Source:  https://www.thaigov.go.th/news/contents/details/33742
  • Approved of appointing Setthaput Suthiwart-Narueput, an economic adviser to PM General Prayut and also a Monetary Policy Committee member, as next Bank of Thailand governor.  He will assume the role on 1 October and will be the 24th  BOT Governor.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1959655/winner-of-bot-governor-race-chosen
  • Ministry of Public Health will pay 500 Baht monthly to the health volunteers in appreciation of their work in containing COVID-19 outbreak for 7 months (March – September).  The payments will be made to some 1,054,000 health volunteers.  The 3.6 billion Baht budget for this scheme is allocated from the 45 billion Baht MoPH borrowed as part of the Stimulus Package Phase II.  Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/normal_news/443635

Gold

  • Bank of Thailand agrees with major local traders in using only the US dollar for gold trading and settlement to mitigate foreign exchange volatility and curb the strong Baht. BoT also plans to permit gold traders to apply for foreign currency deposits (FCDs) in preparation for gold trading in the dollar.  The move is slated to be implemented at the end of this year.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1959587/traders-on-board-with-us-valuation
  • Experts are divided over whether gold will hit the magic price of Baht 30,000 per Baht weight by the end of this year,.  One expert speculates that the spot gold price could hit a new high of USD2,000 per ounce soon as investors react to the US-China Trade war, pandemic and central banks’ move to inject cash into economies worldwide.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/business/30392111?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=internal_referral

Others

  • Thailand’s rubber glove industry is attracting foreign investments, with over 10 investors from England, USA, EU, Germany and China expressing interest in setting up factories in Thailand.  Orders for Thailand’s rubber gloves have also been filled up to year 2022.  British investors said they are ready to invest 2.6 billion Baht in the EEC, although the details are yet to be discussed.  The Thai Rubber Tapper Association has warned for local rubber farms to be cautious of the foreign investments.  It also called for BOI to provide incentives for rubber glove production manufactured from natural rubber grown in Thailand rather than synthetic rubber.  The Association.  Source:  https://www.prachachat.net/economy/news-496984
  • The University of Thai Chamber of Commerce estimated that in the worst-case scenario, Thailand’s export could shrink by 13.5 percent if no vaccine is found this year. The automobile and parts industries are the most affected sectors, followed by electronic appliances, plastic pellets, fuels and chemical products. The crisis might boost export opportunities for processed food, beverage and rubber glove sectors.  Overall, the pandemic could reduce the value of Thai trade by 423 billion – 1.02 trillion Baht.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1959663/exports-likely-to-shrink-by-up-to-13-5-    https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30392120
  • The “We Travel Together” campaign may be extended until year-end as uptake has been slow.  This may include launching the second phase that focuses on second-tier provinces and weekday travels.  Travel bubbles for tourists might also take place in October, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1959595/travel-stimulus-scheme-may-run-till-year-end
  • Thailand’s manufacturing production index (MPI) in June increased for the second consecutive month by 4.1 percent to 83.0 points as people begin to resume their normal spending, says the Office of Industrial Economics (OIE).  The MPI gains for June are driven by consumer products (food and medicine).  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1959623/mpi-rises-for-second-month-as-normalcy-resumes
  • Si Racha in Chonburi province is set to be upgraded as the “smart” city hub of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).  Developers boast that the Sriracha Creative District will run on 100 per cent renewable energy to become Asia’s first carbon-neutral smart city.  In the pipeline is also the plan to develop the 1-billion Baht Sriracha Creative District between a Thai company, Life and Living, and Hong Kong’s Ho & Partners.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30392109
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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