Advance Blog

February 8, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 8 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
18623,5576317,410 (at 73.91%)19,320
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
176 [141 (get tested in hospital) + 35(active case finding)] 10 (in SQ) 6,068863 [860 reported by BMA yesterday + 3 by CCSA today]79 (+0)13,383
  • After the Friday’s report by Workpoint Today that Thailand will be the only country in Southeast Asia not to receive the vaccine under COVAX facility scheme, over the weekend senior officials came out to defend Thailand’s stance on not joining the multilateral cooperation:
    • In the new PM Podcast programme, the PM said the Disease Control Department and National Vaccine Institute have consulted with relevant authorities and found out that under the current procurement regulations, Thailand cannot advance the budget to the scheme that yet to know the result of vaccine development.—Royal Thai Government website
    • The director of the National Vaccine Institute said that even though Thailand has submitted letter of intent to join the multinational cooperation since the beginning, but as the COVAX scheme will not benefit Thailand as the middle-income country, Thailand decides not to join the initiative at this stage.—Thai Rath

Politics

  • The main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) will not file any candidate under the party banner in local elections. The deputy spokesperson of the PPRP said that the party remains consistent with its approach not to file any candidate under the party names even for the upcoming municipal local elections to be held on 28 March.—Than Settakij
  • There is more confirmed information on the charter rejig processes:
    • The CDA information will be as followed:
      • 200 CDA members, all elected using province as constituency;
      • 240 days’ timeframe (different from the Opposition 120 days);
      • 500 votes from both chambers are required for passing the first and third reading of the proposal–Prachachat
    • A vocal MP from PPRP said that in the Parliament meeting on 9 February, he will propose a motion to bring the CDA motion to the Constitutional Court for fear that the CDA would be interpreted as abolition of the regime.–Matichon
    • The Coalition whip gave an interview with a media that in the committee to set up Constitutional Drafting Assembly, the PPRP MPs will vote for the motion proposed to submit the CDA establishment proposal to the Constitutional Court whether the CDA is constitutional.—Inside Thailand
  • The Coalition whip also dismissed the reports that a faction (with 30 MPs) in the PPRP will vote against the party resolution to take Education Minister down in the censure debate. He affirmed the main coalition party’s unity.—Inside Thailand
  • In the latest move to disrupt the party, main Opposition Pheu Thai Party launched its new campaign ‘The Change Maker’ recruiting younger generations to join their campaign in seeking Thailand’s future.—Thai Rath
  • After the Ministry of Digital Economy for Society’s request to take down a FB Live clip of Opposition Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn was at the court last week as it would threaten national security, this morning the Criminal Court dismissed the case. The court said the FB Live targeted the government management, with minor mention to the stockholders of the company and did not jeopardise national security.–Matichon
  • Former secretary-general of the PPRP and Energy Minister Sonthirat Sonthijirawong gave a rare interview regarding reports that the ‘Fantastic 4’ (former ministers and key figures in PPRP) is eying to set up a new party or joining hands with former Pheu Thai Chief Strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan. Mr Sonthirat said he and the group have not thought about their political futures. The current Parliament has two more years tenure and it is too early to decide. He also said he cannot respond to the rumours that the group will join Sudarat to set up a new party.—Krungthep Turakij

Analysis/opinion

  • The upcoming censure is a high stake for both the coalition and opposition alike. As for the coalition, the rifts between the main ruling PPRP and Democrat have increased the concerns that documents only seen by insider will be leaked to the Opposition. As for the Opposition, the last poor performance of the debate which ultimately failed to grill Deputy PM Prawit and Interior Minister Anupong has been regarded as whether the Opposition will repeat the flaws.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The spotlight of the upcoming BMA governor election will be placed on Democrat and Move Forward Party’s younger candidacies. It is believed that Prinn Panitchpakdi, son of former UNCTAD’s secretary-general who has a very healthy relationship with the Democrat leader will join the ballot under the Democrat party. Meanwhile, for Move Forward Party, Ariya Banomyong, grandchild to Pridi Banomyong, stateman and one of the masterminds of the 1932 Revolution, might join the progressive platforms of the party, considering his tech backgrounds in the governor’s election.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

  • Commerce Ministry will propose to parliament on Tuesday the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact.  MoC warned that the Thai private sector needs to make adjustments on trade promotions, investment protection, intellectual-property, e-commerce and trade competition for SMEs and government procurement.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Following the International Economic Policy Committee meeting on CPTPP on Friday, chaired by DPM and Foreign Minister Don, the government said it will decide if Thailand should apply to join the trade pact in 3 months, before the CPTPP meeting convenes in August.  The government’s related agencies will take this time to conduct in-depth studies by building on the recommendations made by the parliament-appointed CPTPP committee.  Sources:  Bangkok Post Prachachat Turakij  Thai Rath
  • Headline inflation dropped by 0.34 percent YoY in January 2021, marking the 11th straight monthly decline since March 2020.  This is largely attributable to the 4.82 percent drop in energy prices, a fall in fuel tariff and decline in the prices of rice.  Core inflation was 0.21 percent.  January 2021 was also the first month Commerce Ministry used 2019 as the base year in calculating Consumer Price Index.  The previous base year was 2015.   Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Finance Ministry said it has to hold off reforming the government’s revenue collection, which is a move to implement long-term fiscal expansionary policy framework in the future.  Revenue collection to GDP ratio has dropped from 18 percent to 14 percent due to the pandemic.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and e-commerce are expected to continue spurring industrial property growth, thanks to the government’s stimulus packages and investment in infrastructure from railways and motorways to seaports.  According to Colliers International and CBRE, demand for industrial estates is recovering, with EEC seeing a significant increase in land prices.  The Board of Investment also noted that much of the FDI in the first 9 months of 2020 went into the EEC.  The trend is supported by the increasing demands for warehouse and factories as China-based manufacturers consider relocating their production base to Southeast Asia to be cost-efficient.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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