Advance Blog

October 5, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 5 October 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports five newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,590 cases. Out of the total number, 3,390 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.43%); 141 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 59. The newly confirmed cases are returnees from the India (2), Malaysia (1), Bahrain (1) and Japan (1). All have been in state quarantine since.
    • Last weekend, the (inter)national political landscape was in shock as it is reported and confirmed that US President Trump and self-exiled former PM Thaksin were tested COVID positive. As for the former Thai premiere, it is anticipated that he has caught the virus from a food court in UAE.—Thai PBS
  • The head of Thailand’s state zoological agency was shot dead Saturday as he was pursuing an investigation into the suspicious disappearance of the Queen Mother’s given albino barking deer. The Police said the suspected gunman, a senior official at the zoo, fled the scene of the shooting and killed himself in his living quarters.—all media outlet, AP

Politics

  • Breaking: The King has endorsed the nomination of Arkhom Termpittayaphisit as the new Finance Minister.—Than Settakij Please find attached the full cabinet portfolio of Prayut Government 2/3
  • Since last week, a dominant e-commerce firm Shopee faced online criticism on banning the store linked to the now-defunct Future Forward Party. The giant e-commerce revised its decision after #BanShopee became the third highest trending hashtag on Saturday. Shopee says Democstore had violated its terms several times before the ban for posting “politically sensitive” material. Some online users pointed out shops selling goods by right-wing ‘Loyal Thai’ or even Nazi symbols which Shopee seems not to have problem with.–Reuters
  • Last Friday, anti-government student-led group “Bad Student” toured schools which had reports on student abuses. Their final destination was at the Ministry of Education where they throw away mock 10,000 resignation letters in a symbolic gesture calling for the resignation of the minister, who the ‘Bad Student’ called incompetent.–Reuters
  • Nida Poll surveyed people’s opinion on the most recent Pheu Thai’s restructuring:
    • Opinion regarding Pheu Thai joining hands with main ruling PPRP under PM Prayut premiership: 49.09% said totally disagree; 16.84% were somewhat disagree; 16.41 said they somewhat agree; and 15.88% said they agree.
    • Opinion regarding Pheu Thai joining the coalition with PPRP under different premiership (under different PM): 37.54% said they disagree; 24.09 agreed with the idea; 22.11 said they are somewhat agree; and 14.51 said somewhat disagree.—Nida Poll

Analysis/opinion

  • An exclusive interview with Police Lieutenant General Torsak Sukvimol, the Central Investigation Bureau’s chief and brother to the Lord Chamberlain. The commander said the CIB tasks will be focused on three pillars: 1. Providing security for the Royal Family; 2. Looking after safety of the people; 3. Looking after Royal Volunteer Unit.—Siam Rath

Business:

  • Tourism and Sports Ministry said the first batch of tourists from China, originally scheduled to arrive in Phuket on 8 October, will be delayed to a later date in October as authorities need more time to implement the Special Tourist Visa smoothly.  Nonetheless, the Ministry affirms that it will bring in 1,200 long-stay travellers to Thailand in October.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • With the Bank of Thailand’s debt relief measures poised to expire on 22 October, fears are mounting that a debt tsunami is accumulating.  The BOT’s new Governor, Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput, will face the uphill task of tackling the surging non-performing loan problem.  BOT estimated that 8.1 million consumer loan accounts had entered the BOT’s first-phase debt relief measures.  However, non-bank companies make up the largest loan amount, representing from 27-75 percent of total loan portfolio and are also the most fragile, being saddled with rising NPLs.  Businesses complain that they are dying out, given that they are unable to access BOT’s soft loans as commercial banks are reluctant to grant them the loans.  The hard-hit tourism sector noted that to date, only 5 percent of them could access such loans.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Commerce Ministry’s Department of Foreign Trade reiterates that Thailand is not a global dumpsite for e-waste, adding that a ban has been imposed on the import of 428 types of electronic waste (E-Waste) since September 15.  E-waste is defined as electric and electronic components and scraps, excluding scraps from an electric generator. All sides are urged to hasten efforts to improve the efficiency in handling domestic e-waste, optimise the use of resources and also to recycle.  Source:  Bangkok Post Thansettakij
  • The 900-billion-baht ‘Thai Bridge project’ is expected to be discussed at the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Policy Committee meeting today.  The plan involves digging a tunnel from Chon Buri province in the east to either Phetchaburi or Prachuap Khiri Khan province in the south.  It is envisaged as a new cargo transport route connecting the EEC Project to Thaiand’s southern region, and potentially to open up new transport routes between East Asia and ASEAN.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thailand’s rice export this year is expected to drop from 7.5 million tonnes worth 130 billion Baht last year to 5 million tonnes worth 115 billion Baht, according to the Thai Rice Exporters Association.  This is largely attributed to the appreciation of the Thai baht and low rice output.  Source:  The Nation
  • Colliers International Thailand said condominium demand and supply recovered in Q3 after bottoming out in the Q2, which marked the lowest period in the past decade.  In Q4, there will be fewer than 10 new condo projects launched and the number of new condo supply in Greater Bangkok this year will not exceed 20,000 units, the lowest in a decade.  Foreigners from China and Hong Kong are continuing to make online bookings for potential projects near the BTS and MRT routes, for speculative purposes and their second homes in Thailand, especially since the Thai government is opening up to visitors in October.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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