Advance Blog

February 5, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 5 February 2021

 News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases from clusters
58622,6446315,331 (at 67.70%)18,407
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
573 [47 (get tested in hospital) + 526 (active case finding)] 13 (in SQ) 7,234820 [802 reported by BMA yesterday + 18 by CCSA today]79 (+0)12,824
  • Deputy PM and the Public Minister Anutin said in a remark that Thailand will import the first doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from Asia after Europe enforced export controls. The European Union (EU) last week set restrictions on the export of vaccines from the bloc through to March to ensure it will secure the supplies it had bought in advance, including shots from AstraZeneca Plc. The top public health official said that Thailand will procure the vaccine ‘from somewhere in Asia’ without elaborating any specific country.–Reuters
  • CCSA revealed the result of active case finding in factories in Bangkok that out of 7,485 active findings, there were 46 positive cases within 84 factories in six districts in Bangkok.
  • The head of Phuket Tourism Association gave an interview that tourism businesses in the Southern resort island Phuket that should the international tourism does not return by 1 October, they can’t hold their breath any longer. Lunar New Year used to be their glimmer of hope, but with the second wave of spreading, that hope is gone. The tourist businesses in Phuket are eying to open their island to vaccinated international tourist and have submitted the proposal to the government via the Governor Office.—Inside Thailand
  • A Thai media reported on the COVAX report regarding vaccine distribution which showed that by June, Thailand will be the only country in Southeast Asia not to receive the vaccine under the multinational cooperation. In the latest development, the Director-General of Disease Control Department said it is difficult to provide funding for a project where Thailand will not get the free vaccine.—Workpoint Today

Politics

  • The committee to consider the Constitution Amendment had a resolution to amend the numbers of vote required for the first reading to pass to be two-third of both chambers (more than 500 out of 750), formerly the Coalition proposed three-fifth (450 votes). The Parliament will have the discussion on the second reading on 24-25 February.–ThaiPBS
    • The committee spokesperson from the Opposition Phue Thai Party said the resolution, despite the Constitution’s designation of two-third of both chambers, will make the amendment process more difficult. The Opposition MP said that the resolution is from a main ruling Palang Pracharat Party MP Paiboon and said that the numbers of votes do not matter more than the sincerity of the government in amending the constitution.—Matichon
  • The byelection in the Southern province of Nakhon Sri Thammarat which has caused a potential rift between the PPRP and Democrat parties is seeing a resolution:
    • PPRP Executives held a meeting with Deputy PM Prawit chaired the meeting. The party executive had an anonymous vote to file a candidate to campaign for the byelection in the province under their party banner. The executives who voted for cited the need to secure the district; meanwhile, the executives who voted against cited the coalition unity. The vote result was 10 for, 8 against and 2 abstain.—Siam Rath
    • The Democrat Party Deputy Spokesperson said that the party accepted the PPRP decision as all party has the rights in filing candidate under democratic polity.He does not want to see any retaliation anymore as the people would like to see coalition works for the country.–Matichon
  • The coup in Myanmar is still on bulletin:
    • Yesterday, a small group of Myanmar and like-minded Thai gathered in front of Myanmar Embassy in a symbolic gesture in defiant of the coup. The gathering ended peacefully at around 8.30 pm.–Matichon
    • The putsch and the potential sanctions are making Thai and Japanese firms cautious to pursue businesses on three grounds: the possibility that the U.S. and Europe will reimpose sanctions on the Southeast Asian country, the reputational risk of doing business under a military regime, and policy uncertainty. Analysts and businesses are concerning that the coup in Myanmar will directly affect Thailand and Japan as the two major investors in the country. For example, Amata Corp., Thailand’s largest industrial estate developer, said on Tuesday it has suspended development of its first industrial estate in Yangon due to foreign investors taking a wait-and-see approach.—Asia Nikkei Review
  • Former Pheu Thai Chief Strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan gave an exclusive interview with a media outlining her prospective political party stance. In her view, as there is no way out in the current political gridlock, the party will have two stances and three main policies. The two stances are first, the new party will not touch upon the monarchy and will not involve the institution; second, the new party will empower “smaller people”. The party will target to dismantle the bureaucratic state which has been expanded tremendously since the NCPO coup in 2014. The new party will focus its policies on 1. Supporting democracy through constitutional amendment or the new constitution, 2. Representing “smaller people” in the society and 3. Reducing inequality. As for the highly expected BMA election, Sudarat said that it is too fast for the new party to recruit a candidate. She also revealed that there are all announced candidate come to see her seeking endorsement. The party that is going to be officially debut soon will be the ‘last masterpiece’ from the veteran female politician.—Krungthep Turakij

Analysis/opinion

  • Thai Rath has issued yet another opinion piece on the upcoming censure debate as a back-stabbing game from within the coalition. There are various rifts within the coalition: within the PPRP and between the PPRP and Democrat. As for within the PPRP, the competition for the party endorsement for its BMA governor candidate has caused the rifts between the Deputy PM and party leader Prawit who has shown support for former Police Chief Chakthip and the former PDRC faction (reportedly under PM Prayut clique) who endorse Taya Teepasuwan. It is believed that in the censure debate there will be a bit of mercy from the Prawit faction not to help the Opposition to grill the former PDRC faction as the PM is going to use the latter clique to set up a new political party. (Yesterday’s opinion piece hinted that DPM Prawit will ‘give a lesson’ to Education Minister, partner of Taya, in the censure debate) As for PPRP-Democrat rifts, the competition in the byelection in Nakhon Sri Thammarat will make the unity in jeopardy.—Thai Rath

Economic:

CPTPP

  • DPM and Foreign Minister Don is set to preside over the International Economic Policy Committee meeting today to discuss the 4 recommendations made by the parliament-appointed CPTPP Committee with regards to Thailand’s accession to the trade pact.  The International Economic Policy Committee will study the recommendations and conduct further studies to reach a conclusion on  whether or not Thailand should accede to CPTPP within 90 days.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij
  • The Thai Agriculture and Farmers Association said the parliament-appointed CPTPP Committee will secretly meet today to support Thailand to accede to the CPTPP before vouching for the cabinet to endorse the same decision on 9 February.  The Association expressed dissent towards the Committee’s move and is prepared to rally farmers nationwide to oppose to Thailand’s accession, particularly if Thailand has to join UPOV 1991.  Source:  Thansettakij

Others

  • Finance Ministry countered the allegation that the Thailand’s fiscal position is near bankruptcy by citing Thailand’s strong economic fundamentals.  Indicators include the country’s consistent GDP growth; high foreign reserves (USD259 billion as of Jan 22) that is 3 times more than Thailand’s short-term debt; and low public debt to GDP ratio of 52.1 percent (valued at 8.1 trillion Baht as of 31 Dec).  Finance Ministry also noted that Thailand’s high foreign reserve, strong fiscal position and high potential for portfolio inflows led it to top the Bloomberg’s list as the number 1 Emerging Market Economy.  Thailand is also ranked number 1 in Bloomberg’s Health-Efficiency Index 2020 for its highly efficient healthcare system.  The Thai economy has also bottomed out and has started to pick up.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij  Bangkok Post Matichon  Thansettakij
  • University of Thai Chamber of Commerce said consumer confidence index (CCI) hit a 9-month low and also fell for the 2nd straight month in January 2021.  CCI fell to 47.8 from 50.1 in December due to concerns about COVID-19 resurgence.  Consumer spending is expected to pick up in Q2 of 2021 as the 3 stimulus packages worth a combined 300 billion Baht kick in, which could bolster the economy to grow by 3.4 percent this year if there are no hindrances from politics, the Baht and vaccine distribution.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • The 3 economic stimulus packages are the 210-billion-Baht Rao Chana cash handout scheme that could contribute to 1.2 percent of economic growth; the second phase of the co-payment subsidy scheme Khon La Kreung worth 53 billion Baht that can boost growth by 0.3 percent and the 40-billion-Baht social security payment for Section 33 insured workers that could boost growth by 0.2 percent.  Source:  Thai Rath
  • State welfare card holders totalling 13.8 million people will receive the first COVID-19 cash transfer of 675 – 700 Baht per person from the Rao Chana scheme for the first time today.  Users of the Pao Tang app who have previously registered for the domestic tourism scheme (Rao Tiew Duay Gun) and state co-payment subsidy scheme (Khon La Kreung) can check their eligibility today, with cash set to be transferred to them on 8 February.   Source:  Thansettakij
  • Commerce Ministry has teamed up with 11 digital platforms to roll out new discount campaign until Feb 28 to relieve people’s economic hardship.  The campaign offers discounts as steep as 60 percent in 4 categories: foods and beverages; delivery fees; utility payment fees such as power and water bills; and purchases from fresh markets.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • At the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee on Commerce meeting, DPM and Commerce Minister Jurin has reached solutions to ease the shipping container shortage problem and will open more border checkpoints to boost trade.  The proposals will be submitted for the cabinet’s consideration on 9 February.  Source:  Bangkok Post Thai Post
  • Nissan Asean vows to spend tens of billions of baht making Thailand an electric vehicle (EV) hub for export worldwide, expecting up to 250 million EVs will hit the streets in Asean.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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