Thailand Update: October 15, 2019

Thailand Update | October 15, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew, Aree Tomes
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

October 23-25: 2019 Business Mission to the 19th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting: The Council will be leading our third annual Business Mission to the TELMIN from October 23 to 25 in Vientiane, Laos. Registration has passed, but please contact Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasea.org) or Jamie Lim (jlim@usasean.org) if you would still like to register.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thailand to Open Fake News Center by November

Thailand is poised to be the first country to establish an anti-fake news center. In a report from The Straits Times, the anti-fake news center is set to open by November 1. The center, which will be under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, will be operated by ministry staff, state enterprise personnel, civil society groups, university staff, and the Thai Journalists Association.

Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta stated that the Ministry wants this center to be a joint operation with input from the private sector and civil society groups. Still, human rights and civil society actors are highly concerned that these anti-fake news centers will be used as a censorship tool by the Thai government and to exercise control over content.

The center will just be one aspect of the Digital Economy and Society Ministry’s campaign against fake news. The ministry plans to increase public awareness by boosting digital literacy through workshops, seminars and partnering with private enterprise and media groups to promote the dissemination of factual information across platforms. There is also a proposal with the Education Ministry to implement digital literacy courses in to the school curriculum.

In August, during the ASEAN Telecommunication Regulators' Council meetings, Thailand also proposed that all 10 ASEAN Member States establish anti-fake news centers as well. According to Reuters, since Thailand’s proposal in August, other countries in ASEAN have looked to establish not only their own anti-fake news centers, but a wider unified approach to tech regulation. The Council will continue to monitor the development in both Thailand and across the region, especially as ASEAN looks to develop a set of regional guidelines on Over-the-Top (OTT) services and determine how our members can best engage.

Panel Votes for Chemical Ban on Toxic Farm Chemicals

On October 7, a four-party committee chaired by Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset and established by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, unanimously voted to ban three toxic farming chemicals by December 2019. The prohibition of paraquat, glyphosate, and chlorpyrifos calls for the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) to designate the dangerous chemicals as Type 4 which forbids any possession, distribution, importing, and production of the substances.

According to an article by Channel News Asia, paraquat is already banned in China, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam for negative health impacts on women’s reproductive healthy and toxicity to vital organs. The cheap and effective weed-killing herbicides widely used by Thai farmers are more commonly associated with skin-burning which has resulted in at least 1,715 deaths and 5,000 hospitalizations over the past three years according to the National Health Security Office. Recent studies have also shown high concentrations of chemically contaminated water in large agricultural environments which further spread to the land, crops, and even wildlife.

The vote will be forwarded to Mr. Chan-o-cha and then submitted to the NHSC for final review on October 27. The latest news regarding the ban shows the NHSC saying it will end usage of the chemicals once better alternatives are available. However, Thaiset commented that importing alternatives will only be permitted under the circumstances that they are subjected to a series of reviews. Thaiset also made clear that any potential alternatives must not threaten the environment or public health.

In addition to protecting the environment and public health, the ban promotes organic and sustainable farm practicing. Those in favor of the ban include the Ministry of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, several health workers and the Democrat Party. Biodiversity Sustainable Agriculture Food Sovereignty Action Thailand director, Vitoon Lianchamroom, urges the Department of Agriculture to submit a report to the NHSC including friendly alternatives and measures to help farmers adjust to increase production costs. Through the provision of a comprehensive report, a delay in the ban can be prevented. There has been suggestions to make the NHSC’s vote public but this has yet to be confirmed.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Thailand leads cooperation and integration efforts in mainland Southeast Asia

National Affairs
Fight fake news with education
Party accuses PM of malfeasance
MP seeks resignations over charter forum
New govt offers 'little change'
Thailand's Anti-Fake News Center Fans Fears of Censorship
Thailand: Public opinion key on issue of meddling

Defense & Security
Thailand threatened by conspiracy to create Hong Kong-style uprising: Army chief
New Patrol Vessel Commissioning Highlights Thailand’s Naval Capabilities

Economics
Bureaucratic maze hampers e-commerce growth
BoT sees need to keep policy space for future risks
Bank of Thailand has limited scope to curb baht: World Bank
Faced by strong baht, Thailand plans to relax rules on outflows
Opposition coalition MPs ready for budget debate
Bank of Thailand Has Limited Scope to Curb Baht, World Bank Says
IMF sees Thai growth rate at 2.9% this year, 3.0% in 2020
Thailand market among Asean best
Tax tweak disrupts bond markets

Energy
Ministries to help relieve Egat burden
PTT urged to accelerate gas business
Public hearings set for new community scheme
Super Earth Energy 8 wins Nonthaburi RDF power plant project
Community power plants considered as means to fight air pollution
Energy ministry sets March target to resolve Chevron dispute
Energy Ministry to phase out one fuel
Solar rooftop scheme falls short of goals
Growth in fuel consumption said to be in line with projected GDP increase

Financial Services
Thailand among top Alipay ‘Golden Week’ markets

Food & Agriculture
A to B: Agritech accelerator AGrowth now in Bangkok
Thailand moves closer to ban on toxic farm chemicals as concerns about food safety and human health grow
CP Foods’ compartment model shields spread of “avian influenza” The World Organisation of Animal Health

Health & Life Sciences
Panel votes for chemical ban
HIMSS Thailand National Digital Healthcare Workforce Development Initiative launched
Prayut urges people not to panic over pollution, while academic finds govt solutions ineffective
Medical Fair Thailand 2019 receives breakthrough response

ICT
Thai cafes offering Wi-Fi told to keep customers' data
State agencies to become digitalised by 2022
New IoT devices considered to prevent crime, make roads safer
Cabinet greenlights B24.6bn research budget
Adopt economies of intelligence or fall behind, Thai industry warned
Bangkok occupies 75th place in ranking of smart cities
WiFi rule sparks call for change
Blockchain and efficient government
Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines named as likely 5G laggards

Infrastructure
Late King's sufficiency farming concept takes root in today's rural youth
Transport Ministry seeks to revise Bt122-bn Orange line project
CP Group, SRT signing of train contract again deferred
Construction industry worth Bt1.4 trillion: TCA
BoI begins railway perks
SMART visa to enhance Thai industries

Travel & Tourism
Cabinet OKs new perks for tourism
Thailand to demand proof of health insurance for 'risky' long-term visitors
TAT to focus on enticing Thais to holiday in the Kingdom
Thailand calling
Phuket launches initiative to become smarter and safer
Tourism Authority of Thailand launches regional campaign
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Thailand leads cooperation and integration efforts in mainland Southeast Asia The ASEAN Post 4th Oct 2019
Thailand’s proposal for a five-year master plan to improve mainland Southeast Asia consisting of Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR and Vietnam has been well received by leaders of participating nations. The long-term outline, was announced by Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit held in Bangkok last week. It represents his country’s efforts to boost the economic potential of the sub-region amid a changing world.

National Affairs

Fight fake news with education Bangkok Post 14th Oct 2019
The fight against fake news is becoming more challenging, but a lot can be done by educating people in how to identify unreliable sources and fact checking. Just creating laws against people who spread such information doesn't fix the problem because they are like the Hydra -- you cut off one head and two more will pop up as the cyber-population grows. Many of the laws we have seen so far also amount to violations of freedom of speech, and are open to abuse by governments seeking to silence dissidents. When comes to combatting fake news, the best approach is still education. Let people know that there are differences between an opinion on a blog and websites that masquerade as "news" outlets. Simply looking for who wrote the content and double-checking the content against other sources can already go a long way. Enacting laws to put people in jail for sharing content will not do anything but enable abuse of power.

Party accuses PM of malfeasance Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
A micro opposition party on Wednesday lodged a petition against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) accusing him of malfeasance over sedition charges brought by the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) against 12 people, including opposition politicians. The petition, filed by the Thai People Power Party's Nikom Boonwiset, targeted Gen Prayut in his capacity as Isoc's director. According to the party, the sedition charges are false and unfounded.

MP seeks resignations over charter forum Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
An MP from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party has called on three opposition party leaders and two MPs to resign over their involvement in a forum on charter amendment. Sira Jenjaka also threatened to start a House petition calling for an ethics probe targeting the politicians if they refuse to quit. The ruling party MP on Tuesday demanded that Pheu Thai Party leader Sompong Amornwiwat; Future Forward Party chief Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit; Prachachat Party leader Wan Muhammad Nor Matha; Puea Chat Party MP Songkram Kitlertpairoj; and Palang Puang Chon Chao Thai Party MP Nikom Boonwiset resign for participating in the forum in front of Pattani provincial hall on Sept 28.

New govt offers 'little change' Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
A poll carried out by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, or Suan Dusit Poll, found that a slight majority of people it surveyed found no difference between the government installed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the current government in terms of overall performance. The poll was carried out on Oct 1-5 among 1,233 people across Thailand.

Thailand's Anti-Fake News Center Fans Fears of Censorship Voice of America 8th Oct 2019
Rights groups and opposition parties in Thailand are warning that a new center authorities plan to open by next month to combat the spread of fake news online may be misused to target and silence government critics. Thailand emerged from five years of military rule after tainted elections in March that returned the leaders of a 2014 coup to power. The junta sued or arrested hundreds for peacefully protesting its rule and criticizing the military, often online. Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta announced the center's pending arrival in August, adding Thailand to the list of countries in the region fortifying their fronts against online fake news.

Thailand: Public opinion key on issue of meddling The Straits Times 7th Oct 2019
While Thailand's election laws ban foreign funding, there is no explicit law against foreign interference. But various local groups have regularly accused Western embassies in Bangkok of meddling in Thailand's domestic affairs. In 2015, royalists protested in front of the US embassy after then ambassador Glyn Davies expressed concern about the lengthy jail sentences meted out under Thailand's lese majeste law, which bans insults or defamation against the king, queen, heir apparent or regent.

Defense & Security

Thailand threatened by conspiracy to create Hong Kong-style uprising: Army chief The Straits Times 11th Oct 2019
Thailand's army chief Apirat Kongsompong, in unprecedented remarks on Friday (Oct 11), said the kingdom is being threatened by a conspiracy to create a Hong Kong-style uprising. In a public lecture at army headquarters in Bangkok, the first of its kind since he assumed command of the armed forces last October, General Apirat vowed to suppress any attempt to undermine national security.

New Patrol Vessel Commissioning Highlights Thailand’s Naval Capabilities The Diplomat 8th Oct 2019
Last week, Thailand commissioned another one of its planned offshore patrol vessels. The development highlighted the current status of this aspect of Thailand’s naval capabilities as the Southeast Asian state looks to boost its ability to address a wide array of challenges in the maritime domain. As I have observed previously in these pages, Thailand has been looking to boost its naval capabilities as part of its ongoing efforts to address a series of maritime challenges in surrounding waters in the Andaman Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, and beyond. One of the areas that the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has been looking to develop is offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), and officials have signaled several more being in the pipeline despite wider defense challenges that the Southeast Asian state continues to face under a new government that took office following elections finally held earlier this year.

Economics

Bureaucratic maze hampers e-commerce growth Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
According to the Electronic Transactions Development Agency, there are more than 500,000 e-commerce operators in Thailand. Only 823 of them have registered their businesses with the Ministry of Commerce while only 2,460 direct-sales businesses have registered with the Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB). When less than 1% of e-commerce operators are under state supervision, it is bad news for both consumers and regulators.

BoT sees need to keep policy space for future risks Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
The Bank of Thailand saw a need to preserve monetary policy space to address possible future risks when it kept its benchmark rate on hold last month, meeting minutes showed on Wednesday. The BoT remained worried about the impact of the strength of the baht on Southeast Asia's second-largest economy and would consider implementing additional measures as needed, according to minutes of the Sept 25 meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee. The baht is Asia's best performing currency so far this year, up 7.3% against the US dollar, driven by the hefty current account surplus and fund inflows. It traded at 30.32 dollars at 11.05am on Wednesday, the highest in more than six years.

Bank of Thailand has limited scope to curb baht: World Bank Bangkok Post 8th Oct 2019
The Bank of Thailand has limited scope to tackle baht strength but the currency’s climb is a sign of investor confidence in the country’s economic fundamentals, according to the World Bank. “The trends that drive Thai baht appreciation aren’t easy to combat by central bank policies,” Birgit Hansl, the World Bank’s country manager for Thailand, said in an interview on Monday in Bangkok. The jump is part of a global picture, which nations with small, open economies have “limited ability” to change, she said. The baht has emerged as a haven for some investors, underpinned by a current-account surplus and $220 billion of foreign reserves. The currency’s near 7% climb against the dollar this year, the best in Asia, contributed to a slowdown in the trade-led Thai economy by hurting export competitiveness.

Faced by strong baht, Thailand plans to relax rules on outflows Reuters 8th Oct 2019
In the face of a strong baht that has been Asia’s best performing currency this year, Thailand will further relax rules on capital outflows before the end of the year, the central bank governor said on Friday. Veerathai Santiprabhob told Reuters in an interview that he thinks monetary policy is currently accommodative, but the bank is ready to take action if needed - and is keeping a close watch out for any further global shocks.

Opposition coalition MPs ready for budget debate The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
Sompong Amornvivat, leader of the Pheu Thai party and opposition coalition, said on Monday that the opposition will not support the government’s proposed spending budget for 2020 when it comes up for consideration in the House of Representatives on October 17. “We will remain silent, showing neither support nor objection,” he said. “From my 30 years of experience as an MP, there is not one case in which opposition MPs have to show their support to the government by raising their hands.”

Bank of Thailand Has Limited Scope to Curb Baht, World Bank Says Bloomberg 8th Oct 2019
The Bank of Thailand has limited scope to tackle baht strength but the currency’s climb is a sign of investor confidence in the country’s economic fundamentals, according to the World Bank.

IMF sees Thai growth rate at 2.9% this year, 3.0% in 2020 WSAU 8th Oct 2019
Thailand's economic growth rate could slow to 2.9% this year and be 3.0% in 2020, reflecting external and domestic headwinds, the International Monetary Fund said. Last year's growth for Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy was 4.1%. The growth projections came in a report released in Washington on Monday about an Article IV consultation in Thailand by the IMF's executive board. According to the report, there are different views among directors on whether Thailand has scope for further policy easing.

Thailand market among Asean best Bangkok Post 5th Oct 2019
Thailand has been one of the better-performing markets in Asean, a region that has done well for investors in times of volatility, say analysts from Principal Financial Group. The US-based group held its annual Principal Asia Summit in Bangkok yesterday, telling investors they could find opportunities in an environment of uncertainty, volatility and heightened risk. Bangkok was the second stop on the summit tour of Asean, following Kuala Lumpur and ahead of Singapore and Hong Kong.

Tax tweak disrupts bond markets Bangkok Post 5th Oct 2019
The 15% withholding tax collected on gains from fixed-income funds could affect the long-term trading structure of both the primary and secondary bond markets, says the Thai Bond Market Association (TBMA). Mutual funds had not been defined as a taxable unit for many decades, with investors in mutual funds reaping gains from the 15% tax privilege. But a change occurred when the cabinet in August 2018 approved the 15% withholding tax on gains from fixed-income funds. The tax tweak is meant to reduce inequality in taxation between direct investment in debt securities and investment in debt securities through mutual funds. The change has been in effect since Aug 20, 2019.

Energy

Ministries to help relieve Egat burden Bangkok Post 14th Oct 2019
The Energy Ministry has asked the Finance Ministry to absorb the financial burden of 4.5 billion baht from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) for purchasing crude palm oil. The state budget should absorb this financial burden because Egat has to follow the policy, as the cost for crude palm oil for power generation is higher than for other fuels, said Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong. "The two ministries will work together to seek a solution to help Egat," he said.

PTT urged to accelerate gas business Bangkok Post 14th Oct 2019
The Energy Ministry has ordered PTT Plc, the national oil and gas firm, to accelerate its gas business so that the country can become a liquefied natural gas (LNG) trading hub in Southeast Asia. Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said yesterday that the government will support PTT's gas business at the regional level and that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will ease related regulations for LNG import and re-export. "PTT is capable of becoming a regional trader because the company is heavily invested in gas infrastructure and human resources," he said. PTT plans to operate an LNG trading business to transport a limited volume by marine vessels and heavy-duty trucks across Indochina. "The company is studying the feasibility of the LNG trading business, expecting to reach a conclusion in a couple of months," Mr Sontirat said. "The business plan will be proposed to the National Energy Policy Council in December." He said PTT has 40 years' experience in the gas business and owns an integrated gas infrastructure. Wuttikorn Stithit, PTT's senior executive vice-president for gas business, said PTT is testing its gas trading business. The plan includes providing fully integrated services such as small-scale distribution, gas pipeline development, energy solutions, power backup and renewable energy.

Public hearings set for new community scheme Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
The Energy Ministry plans to hold public hearings for stakeholders to finalise the details and conditions of community-owned power projects under the "Energy for All" scheme within the next couple of months. The scheme focuses on power generation from renewable resources: solar, biomass, biogas and waste. Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the government will listen to the opinions of stakeholders in the private sector, the three state utilities, the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, renewable power operators and local communities.

Super Earth Energy 8 wins Nonthaburi RDF power plant project The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
Deputy government spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul said on Tuesday (October 8) that the Cabinet has approved the selection of private operator Super Earth Energy 8 to invest in and manage the refuse-derived fuel (RDF) power plant in Nonthaburi province. The company recently won the bid for the project, which comes under a public-private partnership (PPP) contract. The project has an estimated value of Bt4.1 billion and will last 22 years (2 years of construction, and 20 years of operation).

Community power plants considered as means to fight air pollution The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said as part of measures to reduce air pollution, the Department of Energy Development and Promotion will hold a public hearing on Wednesday (October 9) on community-based power projects. He added that his ministry will also complete plans to promote the use of B10 diesel within this month, while the government plans to launch a promotion for electric vehicles within this year.

Energy ministry sets March target to resolve Chevron dispute Bangkok Post 8th Oct 2019
The Energy Ministry said on Tuesday it had set a March target to resolve a $2-billion dispute with US oil-and-gas major Chevron Corp and would make the "utmost effort" to reach a deal after the company halted arbitration.

Energy Ministry to phase out one fuel Bangkok Post 5th Oct 2019
The Energy Ministry plans to phase out one of the nine motor fuels in the local market in the next two months, but it will discuss the plan with refineries and traders before making a decision. Nantika Thangsuphanich, director-general of the Energy Business Department, said each station has several fuel pumps, making them a cost burden for fuel retailers. "The department will talk with all stakeholders about the possibility of phasing out one type of fuel in the near future, but we have yet to decide on which type," she said.

Solar rooftop scheme falls short of goals Bangkok Post 5th Oct 2019
The Energy Ministry plans to allocate 10,000 megawatts, currently allotted to the household solar rooftop scheme, to other renewable energy methods such as community waste as the solar panel scheme has received little participation from homeowners. Permanent secretary Kulit Sombatsiri said the ministry is reframing the project as a community-owned power plant from renewable resources called the Energy for All project. The ministry's steering committee stated it is more practical to trim down the 10,000MW target for rooftop solar power under the latest version of national power development plan 2018-37 and allocate some of the capacity towards Energy for All.

Growth in fuel consumption said to be in line with projected GDP increase The Nation Thailand 5th Oct 2019
Based on the Department of Energy Business’s estimates, the consumption of fuel in Thailand is expected to rise 4 per cent this year mainly because the drop in the price of refined oil has increased the use of automobiles. This growth in consumption is in line with the Office of National Economics and Social Development Council’s forecast of 3 per cent growth of the gross domestic product this year, Nantika Thangsuphanich, the department’s director-general, said. 

Financial Services

Thailand among top Alipay ‘Golden Week’ markets Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
Thailand ranked second globally in terms of transactions using Alipay during “Golden Week” this year, reflecting the popularity of the mobile payment provider among Chinese tourists here. Alipay, the world’s largest mobile payment and lifestyle platform, operated by Ant Financial Services Group, announced on Wednesday a summary of overseas transactions by mainland Chinese during "Golden Week", Oct 1-7. Thailand was surpassed only by Japan in transaction volume this year.

Food & Agriculture

A to B: Agritech accelerator AGrowth now in Bangkok e27 14th Oct 2019
National Innovation Agency (NIA), in partnership with the Research & Innovation for Sustainability Center (RISC), Siam Kubota Corporation, and Nest; launched the AGrowth AgTech Accelerator programme in Bangkok to supports agritech startup businesses and entrepreneurs and thus enhance Thailand’s agricultural sector. AGrowth participants will be guided through their business growth and development with the help of business mentoring from NIA and Nest, as well as corporate partners Kubota and RISC. Over the course of 12 weeks, the cohort will gain direct access to the Thai market and explore commercial opportunities, concluding with an opportunity to pitch their solutions for adoption by the Thai agricultural sector.

Thailand moves closer to ban on toxic farm chemicals as concerns about food safety and human health grow CNA 9th Oct 2019
For years, activists, academics and even politicians have been trying to have the use of farming chemicals like paraquat restricted or banned in Thailand. Paraquat has been banned in 53 different countries around the world, including China from 2020 and Southeast Asian nations such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.  While other neighbouring nations have taken measures against it, Thailand has until now remained steadfast in allowing it.  But on Monday (Oct 7), representatives of four different sectors - the government, importers, farmers and consumers, as well as Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Mananya Thaiset - voted unanimously to ban paraquat, as well as other potentially dangerous farming chemicals glyphosate and chlorpyrifos. Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/thailand-paraquat-agriculture-...

CP Foods’ compartment model shields spread of “avian influenza” The World Organisation of Animal Health The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
The World Organisation of Animal Health will hail Thailand and CP Foods as a model in preventing the spread of bird flu virus in the region, according to a company statement today (October 8).  CP Foods was the first Thai company to apply the compartmentalisation principles of OIE as one of the key measures to shield Thailand from spread of the virus. The proactive measures of principles comprised common biosecurity management, notifiable avian influenza surveillance in compartment and buffer zone, control measures of NAI in compartment and buffer zone and traceability system. In addition, the principles have been implemented on buffer zone of one kilometre around farm to ensure distinct health status, it said. 

Health & Life Sciences

Panel votes for chemical ban Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
A four-party committee has unanimously voted for a ban on the use of three toxic farming chemicals, heaping pressure on the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC), which has resisted an outright ban, to follow suit. Chaired by Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset, the panel members spent two hours on Monday reviewing a report on the chemicals and voted 9-0 in favour of the ban. The committee was set up by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and will forward its decision first to him and then to the 29-member NHSC, which is scheduled to review the issue later this month.

HIMSS Thailand National Digital Healthcare Workforce Development Initiative launched Healthcare IT News 8th Oct 2019
The HIMSS Thailand National Digital Healthcare Workforce Development Initiative (WDI) was officially launched on the opening day of the HIMSS AsiaPac 2019 conference on October 7 in Bangkok, Thailand. This Initiative sees the development of a three-year work plan to address the demand of patients for digital healthcare services in light of the Thailand 4.0 digitisation journey, as well as healthcare tourism being one of the key economy drivers.

Prayut urges people not to panic over pollution, while academic finds govt solutions ineffective The Nation Thailand 5th Oct 2019
In his weekly televised show on Friday (October 4), Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said his government has always been concerned about air pollution, especially PM2.5 or microscopic dust particles, which he put down to smog from other countries, traffic jams, burning of farming waste, factory emission and dust from construction sites. “PM2.5 is dangerous, especially for children, babies, pregnant women and elders, whose immunity is too fragile to tackle the microscopic dust,” he said, adding that people should be particularly careful during December as there are no winds or rain to blow away the dust.

Medical Fair Thailand 2019 receives breakthrough response BioSpectrum 3rd Oct 2019
MEDICAL FAIR THAILAND 2019, that took place from September 11-13, proved to be a roaring success as it welcomed more than 11,525 trade visitors from over 70 countries and regions, and 900 exhibitors and 21 national and group pavilions; breaking records and exceeding expectations on multiple levels when it closed last week. The 28 percent increase in visitors from the 2017 edition as well as the exhibition’s growing international profile saw nearly 40 percent of visitors coming from outside Thailand. The marked increase in visitorship from the neighbouring markets of Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, is also testament to the region’s demand, and readiness, to procure medical solutions and healthcare innovations at trade platforms such as MEDICAL FAIR THAILAND. The 3-day exhibition also hosted several visiting delegations and various industry trade associations from all over the world — another strong indication of MEDICAL FAIR THAILAND’s standing as a must-visit sourcing platform.

ICT

Thai cafes offering Wi-Fi told to keep customers' data The Straits Times 10th Oct 2019
The Thai government has requested all coffee shops, including small mom-and-pop operators, to keep traffic data of customers using their Wi-Fi for 90 days and to provide that information if required. The government says this is necessary to deter crimes and track suspects. But concerns have been raised that it would drive away customers worried about privacy and misuse of the data collected.

State agencies to become digitalised by 2022 Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2019
The government aims to transform all state agencies to become fully digitalised within three years. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak announced on Wednesday a time frame for the digital government development roadmap (2020-2022) that calls for all government agencies to become fully digitalised. The roadmap is to be submitted to the cabinet to make it official policy.

New IoT devices considered to prevent crime, make roads safer The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
The Royal Thai Police is cooperating with the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry to create an IoT (internet of things) GPS tracker and smart checkpoint to efficiently deliver public services and prevent crime. Pol Major Phuritpach Nantasitangoon, a forensic scientist at Ang Thong’s Scientific Crime Detection Centre 7, said: “This cooperation will help boost national security and new technology created to help the society can also be sold to other countries and help generate revenue for the country.”

Cabinet greenlights B24.6bn research budget Bangkok Post 8th Oct 2019
The cabinet has approved a budget of 24.6 billion baht to support research and innovation to transition the country into a fully-fledged technology-based society, according to the National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council. The fund, drawn from the current fiscal year budget, will finance projects to realise the goals of achieving a technology-based society. The money will go towards developing manpower and institutions, undertaking research and creating innovations to solve major problems in the country, commissioning research and innovations to increase the country's competitiveness and reducing social disparities, according to the council director Kittipong Promwong. 

Adopt economies of intelligence or fall behind, Thai industry warned The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
Thailand’s manufacturing sector will lag behind unless it takes steps to embrace the emerging economies of intelligence for which data and the capacity to synthesize contents are key success factors. According to Robert Parker, a senior executive of IDC, a global provider of market intelligence and other services, about 50 per cent of the world’s businesses will be digital by 2022, while worldwide growth in digital and related investment is estimated to be 17.5 per cent per year.

Bangkok occupies 75th place in ranking of smart cities Bangkok Post 5th Oct 2019
Bangkok ranks 75th out of 102 cities worldwide in smart city rankings, according to the IMD Smart City (SCI) Index for 2019. It's the first edition of the index, jointly commissioned by the World Competitiveness Center's Smart City Observatory, under the IMD Business School in Switzerland and Singapore, and Singapore University of Technology and Design. The top 10 smart cities are Singapore, Zurich, Oslo, Geneva, Copenhagen, Auckland, Taipei, Helsinki, Bilbao and Dusseldorf. The SCI focuses on how citizens perceive the scope and impact of efforts to make their cities "smart", balancing "economic and technological aspects" with "humane dimensions".

WiFi rule sparks call for change Bangkok Post 10th Oct 2019
Activists defending free speech online say they will push for changes to the controversial computer crime law following an uproar over its data retention requirement. Arthit Suriyawongkul, coordinator of Thai Netizen, said the group will mobilise support for the law amendment from the House committee on telecommunications, digital economy and society.

Blockchain and efficient government Bangkok Post 4th Oct 2019
Whenever we talk about blockchain, the applications are usually limited to the private sector. It makes sense: the most famous example of blockchain technology is bitcoin, which many governments oppose. Yet blockchain could change the public sector just as much or even more than it could the private sector. The potential number of uses for blockchain in government is enormous and the number of applications governments around the world currently use it for would surprise you. Eugene McCarthy, a former US senator, once said: "The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty." If you've ever attempted to get a driver's licence, you know this first-hand. But thanks to blockchain, bureaucracy is about to get much more efficient.

Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines named as likely 5G laggards Nikkei Asian Review 3rd Oct 2019
Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines will lag behind other Asian countries in the deployment of fifth-generation mobile networks, although Singapore is poised to lead the race, a recent report said. Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney published a report in late September that projected that 5G penetration will reach at most 40% within almost all of the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by 2025. Singapore will outperform its peers, with an expected penetration rate of close to 60% by 2025. The report said countries like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines could find themselves in a "lose-lose" situation where 5G is selectively rolled out and enterprises are unwilling to pay a premium for the network. Under this scenario, consumers and businesses would be reluctant to fork out extra cash because they perceive limited benefits over existing 3G or 4G networks. Operators would respond by focusing on recouping their investments in the existing networks, limiting the expansion of 5G infrastructure.

Infrastructure

Late King's sufficiency farming concept takes root in today's rural youth Bangkok Post 14th Oct 2019
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great passed away three years ago. Yet the memory of the beloved monarch is still deeply-rooted in Thai hearts. However, the legacy of the late King is more than just a fond memory. Thousands of royal initiative projects -- almost 4,700 in total -- are still ongoing. According to the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (ORDPB), these projects include agriculture, environment, health, science, education, employment, and community businesses.

Transport Ministry seeks to revise Bt122-bn Orange line project The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anuthin Charnvirakul said the Transport Ministry has proposed a revision of the Bt122-billion Orange mass transit line project - running from Thailand Cultural Centre to Bang Khun Non in Thonburi, west of Bangkok. It was approved by the previous government but bidding has not been called.  The former junta-backed government designated the project a public-private partnership (PPP), coming under a single contract for both construction and operation. It planned to start public services of the orange line in 2026.

CP Group, SRT signing of train contract again deferred Bangkok Post 8th Oct 2019
CP Group, SRT signing of train contract again deferred The signing of a 224 billion baht contract between the State Railway of Thailand and Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group faces another delay following the resignation of the entire SRT board only two weeks before the scheduled closure. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Monday the Transport Ministry had decided to defer the the signing of the contract from Oct 15 to Oct 25 after the SRT board members all stepped down last week, on Oct 1. The ministry needs the new SRT board to be in place first, to avoid the possibility of the contract being invalidated if they ink the agreement in its absence, he said.

Construction industry worth Bt1.4 trillion: TCA The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
The construction industry has reached a net worth of Bt1.4 trillion, said the Thai Contractors Association (TCA), adding that the association would keep expanding development projects and managing contracts more effectively. “We are promoting the use of innovation and technologies in construction, such as building information modelling,” TCA president Angsuras Areekul said. “The industry this year is expected to maintain growth due to a number of positive factors, especially the government’s transportation infrastructure and condominiums along Skytrain stations,” he said.

BoI begins railway perks Bangkok Post 7th Oct 2019
The Board of Investment (BoI) is offering investment packages for rail operators to support a new supply chain for train and railway components in the future. The government is expanding railway megaprojects such as mass transit monorail, as well as intercity high-speed and double-track railways. Bonggot Anuroj, the BoI's deputy secretary-general, said Thailand should be the hub of an Asean railway system, connecting with neighbouring countries and improving transport and logistics systems.

SMART visa to enhance Thai industries The ASEAN Post 4th Oct 2019
High level executives, investors or professionals in industries of the future like aerospace, automation and biofuels can now live and work in Thailand under a new visa scheme called the SMART visa. This new visa bracket is aimed at encouraging more investment and expertise in 10 targeted technology and knowledge based industries which have seen significantly higher growth rates in these past few years. Holders of the SMART visa would not need a work permit and their visa validity period would be four years. Their dependents would also be able to enjoy similar privileges under the program. Moreover, those with a SMART visa only need to report to the immigration authorities once every year as opposed to once every 90 days under current rules.

Travel & Tourism

Cabinet OKs new perks for tourism Bangkok Post 14th Oct 2019
The economic cabinet on Friday approved a new round of tourism measures, aiming for the number of foreign visitors to reach 39.8 million and generate 2.04 trillion baht this year. Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for political affairs, said the new tourism stimulus measures cover both short-term measures for this year and some for 2020. They will be submitted for cabinet approval next week. The government also set a target to attract 41.8 million foreign visitors and generate 2.2 trillion baht in tourism revenue next year.

Thailand to demand proof of health insurance for 'risky' long-term visitors euronews 9th Oct 2019
Foreigners in the “risky” over-50 age group will have to present proof of health insurance when applying for Thai long-term non-immigrant visas, a minister said on Wednesday, so the government doesn’t have to pick up their medical bills. The rule takes effect at the end of the month to ensure the visitors can afford treatment during a maximum one-year stay and the government does not have to foot the bill, Sathit Pitutecha, deputy minister of public health, told Reuters.

TAT to focus on enticing Thais to holiday in the Kingdom The Nation Thailand 8th Oct 2019
Based on the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s finding that reservations from Thai International Travel Fairs show over 12 million Thai people will travel outside the country from the New Year to the Songkran festival next year, the agency is accelerating two tourism support strategies to entice people to explore their own Kingdom. With the baht strengthening from the beginning of the year to October and remaining at Bt30.53 per US dollar, many airlines in Thailand have opened multiple new international routes for this year’s fourth quarter. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for Thai hotel operators to look to expanding their international hotels, the authority said.

Thailand calling Bangkok Post 8th Oct 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects 2 million Indian tourists to visit the country this year after noting strong year-on-year growth of 24.5% to 1.14 million arrivals in the first seven months. Arrivals last year totalled 1.59 million, up 13% from the year before. Indians also spend an average of 11% more per trip than other foreign tourists, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry. Indian arrivals started to really take off last year, helping to offset the decline in the number of Chinese tourists that began in mid-2018 following a boating tragedy off Phuket and continued for several months.

Phuket launches initiative to become smarter and safer Bangkok Post 6th Oct 2019
Phuket launches initiative to become smarter and safer The boat accident in July last year that killed 47 Chinese tourists has left a scar on the sunny image of Phuket, and raised questions as to whether the famous tourist city is safe for tourists and residents alike. If the tragic accident has any plus side, it is that the local authority woke up to the need to improve city safety and surveillance. One initiative to have arisen after the disaster has been christened the "Smart City & Safe City" project, an urban monitoring scheme that makes use of big data and IoT (Internet of Things) technology to improve safety.

Tourism Authority of Thailand launches regional campaign Marketing Interactive 10th Oct 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Bangkok Airways have launched a new “Fly me to Thailand” campaign, offering privileges, gift cards, discounts for travellers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam as well as Malaysia, Singapore and India. Klissada Ratanapruk, TAT executive director, ASEAN South Asia and South Pacific Region said, “Thailand is entering this year’s high season from October. So it is an opportune time to offer special privileges for tourists from our neighbouring ASEAN countries as well as from our long-standing, short-haul friend, India. The special offers from operators of tourism products and services across the country will also help enhance the awareness of the amazing variety of Thai travel experiences.”