Advance Blog

November 4, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 4 November 2020

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports seven newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,804 cases. Out of the total number, 3,612 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.95%); 133 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 59. The newly confirmed cases are returnees from Russia, Jordan, Kuwait, Italy, Maldives, France and Sweden. All have been in state quarantine since.

Politics

  • The student-led protest is scheduled to organise a major press conference at the Sanam Luang (Royal Field) 4.00pm to outlay their further moves.
  • The political spotlight is now on the National Reconciliation Committee as proposed by the House Speaker:
    • The Opposition whip gave an interview with the media that King Prajadhipok’s Institute has been assigned to hold a roundtable seminar next week to brainstorm ideas with various sides including protest leaders and academics over the structure of a reconciliation committee that is deemed acceptable to all sides.—Inside Thailand
    • The Opposition whip said yesterday that the Opposition will wait and see how the structure of the Committee will look like and the protestors’ response to the panel before deciding to join.—Voice TV
    • A vocal MP and Palang Pracharat Party’s deputy leader Paiboon threatened to sue the Committee, should the panel discusses on the protestors’ proposal on monarchical reforms. The MP questions whether the committee will be manipulated to force the PM to resign.—Khao Sod
  • After some media quotes Deputy PM Wissanu’s interview after the cabinet meeting that the PM is ready to pen down the Referendum bill by 3 November’s evening.—Than Settakij This morning the PM neither confirmed nor declined whether he has signed the bill.—Nation TV
    • For background, the cabinet has given its resolution to the Referendum Bill earlier in  September.—Thai Rath
    • A Senator who is brother to Deputy PM Wissanu eyed for the referendum to be held on the same day as the PAO executive’s election (20 December).—Prachachat
    • Office of the Council of State has submitted the draft to the Cabinet Secretary’s Office (CSO) on 23 October and the CSO will put in on the cabinet weekly meeting bulletin, then to the House to debate for 60 days and to the Senate for 30 days.—Thai PBS
  • The House Speaker said that the Parliament will discuss on charter rejig proposals on 17 November. If the Parliament could not finalise the vote, it could be extended to 18 November.—Krungthep Turakij
  • A politician-turn-activist Warong Dejkitvikrom posted on his social media platform the foreign organisations which have been supporting iLaw in its bid to amend the Constitution. The former politician who was asked publicly by the King to “Help make the truth out” listed:
    • 1. Open Society Foundation (OSF)
    • 2. Heinrich Bll Stiftung (HBF)
    • 3. National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
    • 4. Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR)
    • 5. American Jewish World Servic (AJWS)
    • 6. Occasional support from Google.—Nation TV
  • There is a power shift in the government hard-line supporter TV station as one of the most famous news anchor left Nation TV to join the neighbouring New TV starting 1 December. The owner of Nation TV said the departure would not affect the viewership of the channel.—Isranews Agency
    • A political commentator and media veteran Atukkit Sawangsuk gave an insight on this power play via his FB that Somchai Mesen who is more middle liner and close to the ‘Fantastic Four’ under former Deputy PM Somkid is fully back on stage, pushing Sonthiyan who is more hard liner (main figure in the right-wing Thai Move Institute) aside. The earlier online campaign by protestors of boycotting Nation TV sponsors effect the TV channel badly.– Atukkit Sawangsuk

Analysis/opinion:

  • A media questions the intention of the House Speaker in inviting former Prime Ministers to be the mediators of the Reconciliation Committee set up by the King Prajadhipok’s Institute. The four PMs (Anand Panyarachun, Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, Somchai Wongsawat and Abhisit Vejjajiva) named by the House Speaker have expressed their defiance of having Gen Prayuth as the PM on different occasions. The pro-government media regards this move by the House Speaker as the Democrat ploy to oust the PM with this committee.—Kom Chad Leuk
  • A media quotes staunch royalist who commented earlier that “I see a coup as not a bad thing” and the possibility of the other coup in Thailand. The report rolls out the security forces roles in Thailand, ranging from political, economic aspects and as the guardian of the monarchy.—The New York Times
  • A Thai lecturer at the Australian National University compares the current protracted conflict with that of the student-led rallies in 1976 which ended in a massacre of students in which right wing civilian groups participated. The pundit on civil society calls for the government to set up a safe space for public debate where clashing views on democratic governance are deliberated, challenged and peacefully resolved.—New Mandala

Economic:

Cabinet’s Decisions, 3 November 2020

The cabinet approved various measures to assist SMEs and tourism operators:

  • The ceiling for the Government Savings Bank’s (GSB) soft loan scheme for SMEs, including those in the tourism sector, is raised to 100 million Baht per borrower from 20 million Baht, with annual interest of 2 percent. The loan application period is extended from 30 Dec, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
  • The Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) will provide loan guarantees worth 57 billion Baht, which will be made accessible to SMEs.  The TCG will collect a 1.75 percent annual insurance fee from the third year of borrowers’ 8-year contract.
  • GSB will extend its 5-billion Baht soft loan for tourism-related businesses to June 30, 2021.  Each can borrow 500,000 Baht on a 5-year term, with 3.99 percent annual interest.
  • The SME Development Bank of Thailand will extend its 10-billion-Baht cash loan scheme until June 3, 2021, with 3 percent interest.
  • Tax on jet fuel will be cut from 4.726 Baht per litre to 0.20 Baht from 3 Nov, 2020 to 30 April, 2021. The tax cut will cost the government 700 million Baht, but is expected to boost travels.  Source:  The Nation
  • Price guarantee schemes worth 61.9 billion baht is extended to rice and rubber.  The two schemes will be administered by the state-run Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Approved of a 2.3-billion-Baht budget to fund 12 projects that promote the conservation and rehabilitation of marine resources and Andaman coast for sustainable tourism.  Source:  National News Bureau of Thailand fb page, 3 November

Others:

  • The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has called for Thailand to develop clear international trade negotiation policies on various FTAS, CPTPP and RCEP regardless of who wins the Presidential race in the United States.  BOT Governor Setthaput pointed out that Vietnam has clearer trade policies and now has 3 times more FTAs than Thailand.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij
  • BOT expects inequality to worsen when the Thai economy returns to pre-pandemic level in 2 years, given the prolonged outbreak of COVID-19 which continues to devastate domestic businesses.  Revenue from international tourists, which constitutes 11-12 percent of Thailand’s GDP, will remain subdued as the number of foreign visitors is projected at only 8-9 million in 2021.  The gradual recovery of the export sector – most notably in the petrochemical, electronics and automobile industries – is not trickling down to employment.  These 3 industries exports account for 49 percent of Thailand’s total exports, but employment accounts for just 4 percent of total jobs.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) expects Thai export to see a -7 percent contraction, up from its original projection of -8 to -10 percent contraction as shipments are poised to pick half in the second half of this year. In 2021, Thailand’s export is projected to rebound to a 5 percent growth as global economies recover.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Thai Rath
  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry has committed to pushing for 10 million domestic trips per month during high season, emboldened by the cabinet’s approval of financial aids for tourism operators.  The number of domestic trips may have risen from 90,000 in April to 8.5 million in September, but it has yet to cross the 10-million-trip threshold despite the government’s stimulus schemes.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Low-cost airlines praised the government’s move to reduce jet fuel tax as this will enable them to comply with the government’s request to keep airfares low, considering that jet fuel takes up 30 percent of total operation cost.  However, the airlines still demand that the government grant them the 24-billion-Baht soft loan, which they have requested months ago.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Parliament is set to consider the Parliament Committee’s report on the impacts of Thailand acceding to CPTPP today.  Source: Independent News Network

Australia

  • The Ambassador’s Op-Ed on Australia and Thailand: partners in water and energy is now published on The Nation Thailand
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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