Advance Blog

February 9, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 9 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
18923,7466318,366 (at 77.34%)19,509
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
179 [123 (get tested in hospital) + 56 (active case finding)] 10 (in SQ) 5,301872 [863 reported by BMA yesterday + 9 by CCSA today]79 (+0)13,439
  • Chinese chargé d’affaires Yang Xin paid a courtesy visit to the PM on the upcoming Lunar New Year and pledged that Beijing has approved Sinovac vaccine and will be shipped to Thailand as soon as possible.—Thai Rath
  • Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin said that Thailand affirmed the procurement of 2 million doses and will be shipped to Thailand in phases: 200,000 in February; 800,000 in March; and 1 million dose in April. The top public health official also said that everyone in Thailand, including migrant workers and work permit holders will be vaccinate. DPM Anutin also said that should Russian Sputnik vaccine like to access Thai market, it is welcomed. As for other vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna, Public Health Minister Anutin said the producers have contacted but there are some conditions that are unacceptable.–Matichon
  • The Office of Ombudsman issued an order that local authorities or private sectors cannot procure the vaccines directly from the producers. The ombudsman said that in order to procure and administer vaccines effectively, only the government has the authority to administer the vaccines at this first stage.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The two waves of COVID pandemic spread has jeopardised employment environment in Thailand, making fresh graduates face the unprecedented unemployment, according to human resources in many businesses.—Thai Enquirer

Politics

  • United Nations independent human rights experts voiced grave concerns over increasingly severe use of lèse-majesté laws in Thailand, warning that a rise in their usage is further restricting civic space and the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in the country. The UN experts said that they “have repeatedly emphasized that lèse-majesté laws have no place in a democratic country”. The release said they are alarmed with the 43 years terms ruled against a 60-year-old former civil servant. The UN body “call on the authorities to revise and repeal the lèse-majesté laws, to drop charges against all those who are currently facing criminal prosecution and release those who have been imprisoned under for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly”.—United Nations
  • This morning, the Coalition whip revealed that the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) will file an urgent motion to submit the censure debate to the Constitutional Court whether the motion which includes matters related to the monarchy is constitutional. The Coalition whip denied the allegation that the government is going to defer or render the debate nullified. –Matichon
  • There will be the other main gathering at the skywalk MBK Centre from 5.00pm protesting against the government failures to resolve economic hardship.

Analysis/opinion

  • The spotlight of the upcoming censure debate is on Education Minister Natthaphol as he will face the grilling from the Opposition and some factions in the PPRP. There are reports that people in the Coalition have sent information to the Opposition to help grill the minister. Now there is an emerging faction in the PPRP (comprising of Deputy Finance Minister, Deputy Agriculture Minister and Deputy labour Minister) which is getting stronger as the group is the inner circle  to the DPM and PPRP leader Prawit. The so-called ‘Three Deputies’ group also holds the largest MP faction in the party and will determine whether the Education Minister will get the least votes, not to mention the political future. It is reported that in the party’s executives meeting to determine candidate for the byelection in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Education Minister and Deputy Agricultural Minister Thammanat clashed as the former voted not to file candidate under the party’s banner.—Thai Post, Thai Rath, Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

  • Thais’ spending during Chinese New Year is expected to plunge to the lowest level in 13 years, according to a survey by the Thai Chamber of Commerce University.  Consumer spending is forecasted to fall by 21.85 percent to 44.9 billion Baht from 57.63 billion Baht in 2020.  This 12 billion Baht drop will contribute to a GDP contraction of 0.05 -0.07 percent.  Spending should improve by the end of February as the government’s stimulus packages, namely the Rao Chana cash handout and Rao Rak Kan social security payment schemes, take effect.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Thai Rath
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) estimated the number of domestic trips during Chinese New Year (12-14 Feb 2021) to tally 235,964 million and to generate 602 million Baht, with 15 percent hotel occupancy rate.  This year’s projection is a far cry from year 2020 (24-30 Jan), which recorded 1.15 million domestic trips, 3.5 billion Baht of revenue and hotel occupancy rate of 75.6 percent.  Moreover, international tourists brought in an additional 5.1 billion baht that brought the total 2020 tourism revenue to 8.6 billion Baht.  The year 2021 estimate is also constrained by only 63.4 percent of total areas nationwide being open to tourism.  Short-haul provinces such as Nakhon Nayok, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Kiri Khan expected to receive the most domestic tourists.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Krungthep Turakij
  • Finance Minister has Arkhom has assigned the Export-Import Bank of Thailand to devise financial measures to help the airlines that are hard hit by the pandemic, but the plan is not yet submitted.  He noted the Finance Ministry is unlikely to provide the soft loans to the airlines through the Public Service Account as the Finance Ministry will have to shoulder the difference in market interest and soft loan interest.  Source:  Bangkok Post  INN News
  • Commerce Ministry reported that in 2020, some 252 foreign investors were granted permission to operate businesses in Thailand through the Foreign Business Act. Of this figure, 36 percent comprises Japanese investors, followed by Singapore, Netherlands and Hong Kong.  This generated employment for 11,000 people. The highest investment value went into infrastructure projects, such as consultancy service for high-speed rail connecting the 3 airports to the EEC and the S-Curve industries, specifically digital sector. Investment prospect for 2021 remains bright, as investors remain keen to explore opportunities in the digital segment and its supply chain due to COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • In 21 years, from 1999 – 2020, the Foreign Business Act had given permission to 5,824 foreigners to invest in Thailand, which brought in 323 billion Baht in investment value.  The top investors were Japanese, Singapore and Hong Kong.  Source:  Thansettakij
  • Industry Ministry expects the value of exports of polylactic acid to rise by 16.6 percent this year to 2.7 billion Baht, with an additional 6,800 tonnes to be shipped out.  This will make Thailand the world’s third largest exporter.  Demand for this type of biodegradable plastic is surging because it is environmentally–friendly, with the government planning to promote bio-chemical products as part of the BCG economic model as well as to establish Thailand as the bio-chemical hub in ASEAN by 2027.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Real Estate Information Centre expects land prices in Greater Bangkok to soar in the second half of 2021 due to forecast of an economic recovery.  Last year, land prices in Greater Bangkok reported a YoY increase of 17.1 percent at locations near mass transit lines that soared 2-4 times above overall land price.  For example, land prices near the Blue Line topped the growth rate in Q4 last year at 67.6 percent YoY.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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