Advance Blog

September 8, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 8 September 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports a newly confirmed case, a total of 3,446 cases. Out of the total number, 3,284 have been discharged from hospital (at 95.30%); 104 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed case is Indian national and has been in state quarantine since.
    • Over the long weekend,  Public Health authorities did progressive tests on 990 people who might have been in contact with the 37-years-old Thai DJ who broke the 100 day streak of no local transmission in Thailand. The test result is out and that 520 of which showed COVID negative result.—Channel 3

Politics

  • A decision which raised eyebrows of many has been made yesterday as two prominent Thai activists were released after spending five days in prison for bail breaches. The police told a court there was no grounds to detain them, despite the continuing push to detain the two anti-government figures on Thursday for them to be in jail for the long weekend. The two called for major rallies on the 19 September at Thammasat University.—all media outlet
  • On Saturday, around 300 high school students from 50 schools gathered in the 2nd round of ‘Bad Student’ in front of the Education Ministry. The group repeated their three demands: stop harassing them, scrap outdated regulations and reform the educational system and delivered an ultimatum: the minister must resign, should he is not able to deliver.—AP
  • Over the weekend, netizens shared photos of military gears moving towards Bangkok, stirring the speculations of another putsch. ‘#No more coup’ made it to the Top Trend of Twitter in Thailand.—Voice TV
  • The junta handed-picked Senate has divided based on their perspectives regarding the Charter amendment into three groups: 1. The Indecisive (around 100) composes of former security officials and former members of the National Assembly. 2. The Supporter (around 20-30) supports the Coalition and Opposition drafts of charter rejig. And 3. The Independent (around 60) supports the amendment, but should be conducted in a section-by-section basis, not by the Constitutional Drafting Assembly. According to the Constitution, one-third of the Senates (more than 84 Senators) must vote In favour of the amendment.—Thai Post
  • Former House Speaker and Rangsit University rector Arthit Urairat posted on his FB account saying that Thailand is now approaching towards political dead-ends. He proposed the former PM Anand Panyarachun to be interim PM and then giving 2 years for the Constitutional Drafting Assembly to draft a new constitution ensuring ethically meritocratic regime under constitutional monarchy. He later deleted his post. Historically, Mr Arthit as the House Speaker replaced the name of House nominated Air Chief Marshal Somboon Rahong with Anand Panyarachun for the King endorsement back in 1992.—Naew Na
  • The government spokesperson dismissed the Amnesty International’s claim that the government has been suppressing the protestors. The Prayuth government has been following the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: ICCPR. The similar statement was also published by the Royal Thai Police office.–Manager Online
  • The Royal Gazette has published the King’s command to strip Police General Wirachai Songmetta from the Deputy Police Chief position after he was hanged by the PM earlier on in a scandal involving the expose of recorded conversation he had with the Police Chief. Pol Gen Wirachai was the most senior police on the line to become the next Police Chief.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

Akara Mine

  • An anonymous source from the Parliament disclosed that the negotiation between Akara mine and the Thai government is proceeding well.  Both parties are expected to reach an agreement as early as January 2021, without having to wait for the verdict from the arbitration process in February 2021.  The Thai government insisted it has never ordered the termination of Akara mine; it simply did not renew the license for Akara mine to continue its operations to protect the safety and health of the local population.  Akara Mine could submit its license renewal under the new Mineral Act issued in 2017, which the government revised to ensure the environmental clauses are more stringent.  Akara Mine claimed the Thai government intentionally did not approve of its license renewal submission until the Mineral Act was revised in 2017; hence the ensuing arbitration process.  It is also noted that Kingsgate Company has shed its shares in Akara Resources company to 7.06 percent as of 30 October 2019 compared to 48.2 percent in 2013.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij

Pesticide Banning

  • The Federation of Industry said the banning of paraquat and chopyrofos as well as the limit imposed on the use of glyphosate on 1 June has wide-ranging impacts and has cost the chemical industrial sector 2 trillion Baht.  FTI also slammed the government for its ‘double standard’ practice, in which farmers are prohibited from using the pesticides, while the industrial sector is allowed to import agricultural produce with paraquat residue level that does not exceed the CODEX standard until 1 June 2021.  Source:  Prachachat Turakij

Tourism

  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects the recent long national holiday from 4-7 September to generate 8.8 billion Baht in revenue.  It plans to announce more national holidays to boost domestic tourism and spending.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • TAT will tweak enrolment process for its domestic stimulus campaign, We Travel Together, to include the elderly.  Only 800,000 room nights were redeemed from the 5 million room nights offered by the campaign since the campaign began on July 18.  Local tourists have contributed 2.57 billion Baht to the economy, of which 1.6 billion came directly from traveller expenditures and 978 million from government subsidies.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • TAT is delaying the reopening of Phuket after Thailand reported the first case of local COVID-19 transmission in more than 3 months.  The Phuket Model was originally scheduled to be piloted next month, where some 200 visitors from Australia and New Zealand will be allowed to visit the resort island.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • Finance Ministry will propose to the cabinet the 45-billion-Baht cash handout to 15 million people by mid-September.  The funding will come from the 600 billion Baht budget allocated as aid those affected by the pandemic.  Of the 600-billion-Baht budget, the remaining amount is 180 billion Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Finance Ministry and related government agencies are discussing a strategy to manage the economy in the next phase of the pandemic.  They are evaluating whether stimulus packages to boost tourism and consumer spending as well as state welfare for low-income earners are needed.  These include deliberations on renewing the tourism campaign We Travel Together that is expiring on 31 October, the Taste-Shop-Spend scheme and a new round of state welfare support.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Inflation in August declined by 0.50 percent YoY, the smallest contraction in six months, boosted by fresh vegetable price due to the heavy rain and strong demand for pork from domestically and internationally.  Inflation in September is anticipated to pick up further as demand and supply improve.  For the first eight months of 2020, headline inflation was -1.03 percent and core inflation was 0.33 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post

ASEAN/World

  • Disney Mulan is on screen in Thailand amidst the ‘milk-tea alliance’ calls to boycott the movie, citing the main actress has posted in support of Hong Kong police against the pro-democracy protestors.

Opinion/ analysis

  • The economic apparatus of the government is expediting its employment schemes to pamper the fresh graduates and those who might lose jobs due to the pandemic not to join the next major protest on 19 September. The Thai Industry Federation has estimated that now Thailand has 3.3 million unemployed and would be as high as 8 million at the end of this year. Should the government’s schemes not able to alleviate the economic impacts of the unemployed, security apparatus believe that this next protest will get too big for them to handle.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The resignation of two economic tsars in the last couple of months showed that the government has lacked leadership in steering the professionals to work on economic issues against all political odds. The bigger implication is that the loss of two finance ministers mean the government might lose international credit in terms of investment, particularly the government flagship project of Eastern Economic Corridor might be in vain without Deputy PM Somkid. The government is moving towards its dead-end.—Thai Rath
  • Against the recent rumours on the coup, there are four reasons why a military coup is not going to happen anytime soon; namely, army reshuffle, government strength, protests have not hit critical mass and economic spillover from the coup.—Thai Enquirer
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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