Advance Blog

January 8, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 8 January 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesAccumulated cases for active case finding among migrant workersDischarged from hospital
2059,8412,7425,255 (at 53.40%)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalisedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath toll
131+58 (active case finding among migrant workers)+7 (illicit entry)9 (in SQ)4,519356 (+29 cases reported today)67
  • COVID-related application communication turned to be a political drama as:
    • In the CCSA press briefing yesterday, the spokesperson said that the CCSA is eyeing to fine those who got COVID-19 infection and did not download the newly introduced ‘Mor Chana’ application. The application is a step-up from ‘Thai Chana’ platform with additional features of tracking GPS and Bluetooth to alert users from getting close to the confirmed cases. The new application is compulsory for those in the maximum controlled with highly strict control area (Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Rayong, Chantaburi and Trat).
    • Three hours later, the Deputy PM and Public Health Minister, who is now under self-quarantine for getting in close contact with the confirmed cases, posted on his FB that he has consulted on this compulsory download of this application. The PM and director of CCSA agreed that this measure might cause more burdens than not. The Public Health Minister said that the penalty aims against those who intended to conceal their timelines.—Matichon
    • Today, the CCSA spokesperson came out to apologise for the miscommunication. He said he is being misquoted, the intended message is that the infected who intended to conceal their timeline and did not intend to download the application will be liable for penalty.
    • The CCSA spokesperson came out to counter the personal criticisms particularly on social media against him and his positions.
    • So far, there have been 3.69 million downloads of the application, a big step from 6 January which saw only 1.65 million downloads.
    • A media hit the street to interview people on the penalty from not downloading the application. Some people said with their lack of digital literacy, they have nothing to do but let the authority to fine them. Some said their phones cannot connect to the internet nor have money enough to get any internet package.—PPTV
  • There have been more reports of places with COVID confirmed cases in Bangkok:
    • Posh Emquatier Department Store revealed that they have decided to close three shops for three days (7-9 January) as a people with COVID is verified to visit Maison Kitsune, COS, Ros’Niyom, Eric Kayser and Guss Damn Good.—Khao Sod
    • King Power Duty Free near Victory Monument is closed for today as a staff who works at Jurlique store is tested COVID positive. And the skin care store will be closed for three days.—Khao Sod  
    • One of the most well-known variety/ morning news shows in Thailand is seen to do the live report off studio as a graphic designer of the programme is tested COVID-positive. The studio is on the Rama IV Road in Khlong Toei District—ThaiPBS 

Politics

  • In defiant of the pandemic, a small group of the student-led protest groups (DemHope and Nonthaburi Youth Generation Network) swam with the iconic yellow rubber ducks in a canal next to the Government House. The protestors held up banners criticising the government, including “where are the gambling dens?” And “COVID, not a big deal”.—Thai Post
  • Main Opposition Pheu Thai Party’s secretary-general held a press conference as the Constitutional Court turned down the request by the Opposition to strip a vocal main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) from his MP status. The Court said that the request did not secure one-tenth of the Parliament members. The political drama erupted as MP Sira Jenjaka said he will file legal cases against those who had the signature on the proposal, Pheu Thai MPs withdrew to the point that the proposal did not secure the required numbers. The secretary-general of Pheu Thai said that the party stands firm with the Opposition and will support the fresh proposal on this matter. The proposal was introduced by third largest Opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party—Matichon
  • German Foreign Ministry said that HM the King does not need a visa to re-enter Germany since he became the head of state. The Foreign Ministry replied to an inquiry raised by the opposition Linke (Left) party. The media report quoted Sevim Dagdelen, a member of parliament for the opposition Linke party, saying if the king needed no visa then the German government could not influence how long he stayed, but as a last resort could declare him persona non grata.—Reuters

Analysis/opinion

  • A strategic pundit gave an interview to a media and wrote an opinion piece on the latest riots in the US. He said the remaining 13 days is of strategic significance as President Trump remains the legitimate US leader until then, possibility of war remains salient. The political scientist said that the most successful legacy Trump left has been the weaving of what is considered fake news and its mobilisation for his political points. Professor Surachart Bumrungsuk said that regardless of the turbulence, we saw how resilient the American democratic political institutions are.—Matichon, Inside Thailand

Economic:

Ministry of Commerce and Free Trade Agreements

  • DPM and Commerce Minister Jurin assigned Commerce Permanent Secretary Boonyarit to chair a panel to draft Thailand’s strategic trade plans for 2021-25 to combat the pandemic and nurse recovery.  The 5-year plan is part of the Ministry’s 14-pronged strategy, which prioritises expanding trade markets by concluding mini-FTAs and FTAs, ratifying RCEP and boosting border trade and online trade.   Provincial commerce officers are also assigned to function as sales team in proactively boosting export.  Source:  Naew NaThe NationBangkok Post
  • Department of Trade Negotiations is supporting Commerce Ministry’s 5-year strategy by focusing on ratifying RCEP and pursuing FTAs.  It plans to uggrade 4 existing FTAs, including AANZFTA , and will also jumpstart negotiations for FTAs with the EU, EFTA, UK, EAEU, ASEAN-Canada.  It also seeks to conclude FTAs with Turkey, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and BIMSTEC.  Source:  Kao Hoon
  • The export of Thailand’s milk and dairy product rose by 5 percent YoY to reach 516 million USD in the first 11 months of 2020, according to Commerce Ministry.  Most export went to Thailand’s FTA partner countries, most notably to ASEAN (84.5 percent), followed by China (4.4 percent).  This indicates that Thailand is on its way to becoming the centre of milk production in ASEAN.  Sources:   Ministry of Commerce press releaseThai Rath

Others

  • The Thai economy could lose up to 300 billion Baht in Q1 of 2021 after its largest coronavirus outbreak caused consumer confidence index to plunge to a 5-month low (at 50.1) in December 2020, according to University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).  The Q1 2021 GDP is expected to contract by -4 percent if a soft lockdown is imposed, and by -11.3 percent with a hard lockdown.  UTCC added that the government needs at least 200 billion Baht to shore up the economy.  Overall, it forecasts that the Thai economy will grow by 2.2 percent this year; down from its earlier projection of 2.8 percent.   Sources:  ReutersBangkok PostThai Post
  • Tourism operators in the north are grappling with the lack of tourists during the high season.  It urged the government to subsidise 50 percent of monthly salaries capped at 7,500 Baht per employee for at least one year to maintain employment.  In the east, up to 90 percent of hotels in Rayong had temporarily closed due to low occupancy rate.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • The state-own Government Savings Bank (GSB) is helping affected customers living in the 28 red-zone provinces by allowing them to register for debt repayment assistance from January 8 onwards.  GSB will consider suspending their principal repayments for 3-6 months in a move that is anticipated to benefit 1.9 million GSB customers, whose combined loans tally 670 billion Baht.   Source:  The Nation
  • Finance Ministry is to set up a working committee to oversee FY2021 budget disbursement in a bid to boost public expenditure and stimulate the sluggish economy.  In Q1 of FY 2021 (Oct – Dec, 2020), disbursement reportedly went up by 5.6 percent YoY, at 257 million Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Thai Bankers Association plans to establish a banking crisis management ad-hoc team to facilitate uninterrupted financial services in the midst of the pandemic outbreak. TBA is also discussing with the Bank of Thailand to prepare for further virus outbreaks.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • World Bank in its Global Economic Prospects Report expects the global economy to grow by 4 percent in 2021; a 0.2 percent drop from its previous projection due to the resurgence of COVID-19 infections.  In 2022, the global economy will grow by 3.8 percent, but COVID-19 will continue to dampen investment and employment.  Particularly for emerging markets and development economies, the pandemic has exacerbated debt risks, with weak growth prospects likely to increase debt burdens and erode borrowers’ ability to service debts.  Sources:  Kao HoonWorld Bank press release
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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