Advance Blog

November 5, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 5 November 2020

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports six newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,810 cases. Out of the total number, 3,623 have been discharged from hospital (at 95.09%); 128 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 59. The newly confirmed cases are returnees from France (2), Germany (1), the Netherlands (1) and Hungary (1). All have been in state quarantine since. The other tested positive is Myanmar person and has been transported back to be hospitalised in Myanmar.
    • Yesterday, Thai health authority informed the press that Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade tested COVID-19 positive after arriving in Thailand for an official visit. The minister returned to his homeland later yesterday. The delegation was supposed to make a two-day visit aimed at strengthening ties, especially in economic matters and is scheduled to meet with the PM and the Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Don. Earlier, the top Hungarian diplomat met with Cambodian PM and Foreign Minister.–AP and all media outlet

Politics

  • Breaking: The student-led protest organisers just announced that they are calling for a major rally from 4.00pm Sunday 8 November at the Democracy Monument. The organiser is asking every participants to write a letter to be submitted to the King.
  • At the press conference, the student-led protest organisers (mostly new faces) announced that they will not take part in the House Speaker-led and government-endorsed ‘national reconciliation committee’, calling it a political ploy to buy more time. The protest leaders reaffirmed their three demands and insisted that “the problems our nation faces cannot be solved if Prayuth remains in power.” They claimed that now they have assembled all youth democratic organisations and they are planning for the next step, without any detail, to oust the PM.–Prachachart
    • On the authority front, the House Speaker told the press that he is preparing to seek advices from former Prime Ministers, including Gen Surayudh who is concurrently serving as the head of Privy Council. The veteran politician said that he is reaching out to the Privy Councillor not for his current position, but as the former PM and that there will be no discussion on the monarchical reforms.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Out of the blue, the former main opposition Pheu Thai chief strategist Sudarat posted on her social media outlet suggesting the government to issue a decree to set up the reconciliation committee with rigid timeframe. There needs to be a ‘safe space’ for all parties to discuss this: the prosecutors need to hold any political case for the time being; all parties will discuss the solution in the Parliament with immunity. After the third reading of the Constitutional amendment has passed the Parliament approval, PM Prayut needs to sacrifice by resigning as he is the central of the current conflicts. Then, the National Drafting Assembly will proceed on drafting the new constitution within 8 months.–Sudarat Keyuraphan
  • The government spokesperson has informed the press that the PM has penned down the Referendum Bill:
    • The PM aims for the motion to go to the parliament that will urgently consider a bill to enable a national consultative process. This will give citizens the opportunity to express their opinions on modifications to the constitution and cabinet resolutions.—Asia Nikkei Review
    • The Deputy PM Wissanu has clarified that the main content of the bill is on the Constitutional Amendment under section 256. Now, there is one question the Election Commission is aiming to ask in the referendum “Do you agree with the new draft of the constitution?” And with the earlier reports that the government eyes for the referendum to be held on the same day as the PAO executive election on 20 December, the legal pundit fears that it might not be able to fit into the timeframe.—Siam Rath
  • The Constitutional Court will rule on the  status of the PM as he prolonged his stay in the army-owned residence beyond retirement on 2 December. The case was filed by the opposition leader Sompng whether the PM’s residing in the house is considered a conflict of interest, which is against the Constitution.—all media outlet
  • After being accused of being manipulated by American-Jewish as revealed by the politician-turn activist Warong and key royalist figure Haruthai, iLaw posted that it is true that the civil society got funding from those organisations, but they have no authority in dictating what iLaw will or will not do. The NGO which has been pushing for constitutional amendment said that such information is already been open to the public and there is no secret of that. The sources of funding has no say in iLaw activities.—Thai Rath
  • The police has instructed its personnel not to post anything that would deem ‘inappropriate’ on their social media outlet.—all media outlet

Analysis/opinion

  • Considering the lesser numbers of participants joining the recent protests and that political parties are focusing their attention more on the PAO executives election, rather than supporting the protestors, a media points out that this might mean the protracted student-led protest is in decline. Many figures in the protest have expressed to make concessions particularly on the monarchical reforms. The student protestors are seeking a soft landing, which would save their faces.—Manager Online
  • The main ruling Palang Pracharat Party decision not to send their candidates for the PAO executives and other local elections, including the Bangkok governor would do more good for the party unity than not. Focusing only on the Bangkok governor election, this would avert the conflicts between the PM and other Bangkok-based main figures in the PPRP (the Digital Economy and Education Ministers have been eyeing for filing their candidate (Taya Teepasuwan, the partner of the Education Minister), so does the PM).–Prachachart

Economic:

  • Board of Investment (BOI) received 1,098 investment applications in the first 9 months of 2020, a 1-percent increase YoY, whereas investment value declined by 15 percent to 223 billion Baht.  Applications for medical sector saw the highest rise YoY of 132 percent to 65 projects and investment value increased by 75 percent to 14.7 billion Baht.  The value of foreign direct investment (FDI) declined by 29 percent YoY from January – September to total 118 billion Baht, with FDI application number seeing a 1 percent drop to 657 projects.  The Eastern Economic Corridor area attracted 313 projects (49 percent of total applications), worth 109.4 billion baht in value.  Sources:  Thansettakij Bangkok Post
  • BOI launched fresh privilege package for electric vehicles (EVs) following the expiration of the previous package in 2018.  The new package includes a 3-year tax holiday for manufacturers of plug-in hybrid vehicles and a maximum 8-year corporate income tax waiver for battery EV producers.  While the previous package focuses on cars and passenger vehicles, the new one covers all aspects of the supply chain, from Battery Electric Vehicles to auto parts and commercial vehicles of all sizes.  Source:  Bangkok Post Krungthep Turakij
  • Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) maintains its GDP forecast of -7 to -9 percent contraction this year, amid mounting concerns that the second wave of outbreak in foreign countries may deter Thailand’s Q4 economic recovery.  JCCIB noted that improvements are evident in Q3 through farm and industrial sectors, but that the new lockdown measures could shave off 0.3 – 0.5 percent from Thailand’s GDP.  JSCCIB urged the government to establish a joint working committee between the private sector and state agencies to prepare for accession to CPTPP and other FTAs in preparation for the new US President.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Kasikornbank Research Centre predicted that if Democratic candidate Joe Biden wins the US presidential election, it will be a boon for the US, global and Thai economies.  It forecasts that a Biden victory would lead to robust US economic growth of 3 per cent or more in 2021, wherein every 1 percentage point of US growth will translate into Thai economic growth of 0.2 points.  A Biden win would also drive Thai exports to the US to surge by 10-20 percent.  CIMB opined that both Biden and Trump favoured nationalistic policies over free trade.  If Biden wins, Thailand should join the CPTPP, but Chinese factories would be less likely to shift to Thailand.  Source:  The Nation
  • Thailand’s cross-border trade, including transit trade, fell by 4.88 percent YoY in the first nine months of 2020, attributable to the pandemic and the slowing economy.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Central Bankruptcy Court has permitted low-cost airline Nok Air to embark on the rehabilitation process, with its business plan poised to be rolled out by January 2021.  Nok Air has filed a rehabilitation petition with the court in July, having racked up 26 billion Baht in debt as a direct consequence of pandemic outbreak.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Commerce Ministry (MoC) will organise the final discount scheme of the year, encompassing over 13,000 items nationwide throughout November to help reduce people’s cost by an estimated 500 million Baht.  This is the 7th campaign in which MoC has partnered with modern trade, local department stores and suppliers to offer up to 70 percent discounts.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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