Advance Blog

November 6, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 6 November 2020

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports eight newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,818 cases. Out of the total number, 3,639 have been discharged from hospital (at 95.31%); 119 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 60 (+1). The newly confirmed cases are returnees from Switzerland, India, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and the Netherlands. All have been in state quarantine since. The other three tested positive are Myanmar people and have been transported back to be hospitalised in Myanmar.
    • The newly reported deceased is a Thai national who returned from the UK on 19 October and has been hospitalised in Chonburi since 22 October. The retired state officer (66) has Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure.

Politics

  • Breaking: The Twitter accounts of Free Youth Movement @freeyouthth and Thatthep ‘Ford’ @fordtattepRuang have just been suspended for violating Twitter’s regulations. The social media platform has been one of the main channels to communicate and disseminate information.—Naew Na
  • There are more scheduled protests:
    • On Saturday, Gender TH (LGBTQ+ group) is going to hold a ‘Peasant Pride’ march from Samyan Intersection to Silom Road in a symbolic gesture against all the oppressors. This is the second gathering called by the group since late July.
    • On Sunday, the main organisers of the student-led protest are going to hold a large rally from 4.00pm at the Democracy Monument, asking every participants to prepare a letter to be submitted to the King. The organisers continue to press for their three demands. The location where they are going to file the petition to the King remains unstated.
      1. The organiser claims that the letter should be focused on how they would like the King to adjust himself to be in accordance with the Democratic polity. The organiser gave examples: how they would like the King to be under the constitution, not to endorse any coup d’état, not to be manipulated by any dictator. —Free Youth
    • The focus will be on whether two main figures of the student protestors Parit ‘Penguin’ and Panusaya ‘Rung’ will be on stage as the two announced that they were discharged from hospital. The two pledged joining the protests once getting better.–ThaiPBS
    • On 21 November, the ‘Bad Student’ group announced that they will escalate the demands from calling the Education Minister to resign and focus on education reforms to more on the broader political issues. The location and timing of the gathering is to be confirmed.
  • Yesterday, the Royal Gazette published the King’s order to appoint three members of the extended royal family to be special officer at the King’s Close Bodyguard Command.
    • The appointment has sparked criticism by the protest leaders; namely, Anon Nampa, Parit Cheevarak and Piyarat Chonthep claiming this is the exercise of power beyond the Constitutional Monarchy regime would allow. And this is the very reason they are pressing for the monarchical reforms, as this is the arbitrary use of power. One of the appointees Julajerm Yugala, who is appointed General, is according to Piyarat a vocal critique of the democratic movements in Thailand.
  • The embattled PM Prayut made an interesting remarks to a course-opening event at the prestigious Thailand National Defence College. He said “If in the future, there is a person who is better, more capable and more honest than me, similarly honest, [he or she] would continue the work and be in charge of the country”.—all media outlet

Analysis/opinion

  • As the Constitutional Court is scheduled to have a verdict on the status of the PM on 2 December, former Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan said that the court verdict citing the PM is not qualified will be a perfect ‘soft landing’ for the PM as the government has lost legitimacy economically and politically.—Post Today
  • A media analyses the Constitutional Court verdict as not beneficial to the PM politically, regardless of the result. Should the court rules in favour of the PM, it would fall into the continual dissidents’ sentiment of “double standard” and would spill over to be against the overall establishment.—Thai Rath

Economic:

  • The Trade Competition Commission Committee has passed a resolution permitting a ‘conditional merger’ worth 10.6 billion USD between Charoen Phokphand Food (CPF) and Tesco Lotus Store (Thailand) and Tesco Store (Malaysia) on 2 November.  The terms of the conditional merger will be disclosed by the Trade Competition Commission soon.  Suppliers expressed concern that the merger will amplify CPF’s monopoly power over retail outlets and will further depress their already non-existent bargaining power.  The merger will give CP control over the largest number of retail-wholesale businesses in Thailand, with a total of 14,312 stores nationwide, comprising hypermarkets and convenience stores (Tesco Lotus, Macro, Tesco Lotus Express, 7-11, CP Fresh Mart).  In fact, the retail market will now be monopolised by 2 conglomerates; CP Group and Berli Jucker (own by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi), both of which will use their retail outlets to expand the reach of their extensive line of food products.  Sources:  Prachachat Turakij TNN Thailand
  • At the annual meeting between the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT), Business Development Department and DPM and Commerce Minister Jurin, the JFCCT proposed for Commerce Ministry to allow foreigners to take 100 percent ownership in Thai businesses on List 3 of the Foreign Business Act in the next 3 years, particularly those related to digital adoption and innovation services.  This liberalization will attract foreign investments into Thailand in the wake of COVID-19.  JFCCT also raised other issues with the Minister, such as post-COVID-19 tourism policies, logistics with neighbouring countries and Thailand’s stance on various FTAs, RCEP and CPTPP.  Commerce Ministry agreed to meet with the foreign chambers of commerce more frequently, to twice a year.  Sources:  The Nation Siam Rath Bangkok Post
  • On November 15, Thailand is set on attending the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the 37th ASEAN Summit under the chairmanship of Vietnam.  This will mark the first signing of such an agreement conducted online.  PM Prayut will also attend high-level conferences including Mekong-Japan and Mekong-ROK and RCEP Summits from Nov 12-15.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Headline inflation in October decreased for the 8th consecutive month, declining -0.50 percent YoY but is an improvement from the 0.7 percent drop in September.  The October increase is attributable to the rising price of food and non-alcoholic beverages, while core inflation rose by 0.19 percent.  For the first 10 months of 2020, headline inflation was -0.94 percent and core inflation was 0.31 percent.  Annual headline inflation in 2020 is projected at -1.1 percent (within the range of -1.5 percent and -0.7 percent).  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited foreign diplomats based in Phuket, among them an Australian diplomat, to discuss economic stimulus measures to revive Phuket’s tourism sector.  To date, some 200 Chinese nationals were granted permission to enter Thailand through the Special Tourist Visa.  MFA disclosed that it is working with related agencies to lure more tourists by providing more lucrative tourism packages and vouched its support to help shape Phuket into a global centre for hospitality business in the post-pandemic era.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The second round of registration for the co-payment Khon La Kreung scheme is scheduled for 11 November as some applicants are not expected to use the subsidy within 14 days after they have registered.  The scheme has been running since October 23, and as of 4 November, accumulated spending by both the government and individual registrants was 5.8 billion Baht.  The total budget for the scheme is 30 billion Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Thailand’s Q3 agricultural GDP reported a smaller decline of -0.4 percent YoY, owing to the surge in demand for meat and dairy from China and Japan.  This somewhat offset the drop in the production of economic crops such as rice, tapioca, pineapple, palm oil, mangosteen and rambutan due to the drought.  Thailand’s annual agricultural GDP in 2020 is expected to contract between -2.4 to -3.4 percent.  Sources: The Nation Prachachart Turakij
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