The following is a new weekly feature that will take place every Saturday, giving a look at “the week ahead” in news and things to keep an eye on. Unlike our Sunday and Monday local and national top story round-ups, this will be focused on all news, both national and local. This also won’t be a top five, as the number of things to be aware of and look forward to could change week to week.
Our goal is to provide our regular readers a short, factual and concise preview of the week ahead and things to look forward to and follow up on news wise. The articles and points below are not in any particular order.
Without further adieu, things to look forward to and be aware of for next week, September 13-19, 2020.
1. Thai Cabinet to discuss potential of special tourist visa, foreign tourist entry models, visa amnesty situation on Tuesday, September 15
The Thai Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha, is set to discuss the potential of a proposed tourist visa on Tuesday of next week at the weekly Cabinet meeting. This visa, in a nutshell, would allow foreign tourists (and possibly others) to get a visa that would allow them to stay for 90 days, with the opportunity of two extensions for a total of nine months. This is part of a proposed plan to let long-stay foreign tourists back into the country after the Covid-19 pandemic. Other major topics on the agenda include overall status of proposed tourist entry models and the upcoming end of visa amnesty on September 26. Here are some articles below that sum up where we are so far:
2. Pro-Democracy protesters set for biggest rally yet on September 19 in Bangkok
Next September 19 will see what Pro-Democracy/Anti-Government protesters, who are primarily college students, hold what they say will be their biggest rally yet. The plan is an overnight rally at Thammasat University, although the University has officially as of press time banned the rally, citing several factors. The organizers stated they will be holding the rally regardless of any potential ban. The US Embassy has also repeatedly denied claims by Pro-Government groups they are involved behind the scenes in the organization of the rally. The Prime Minister, Prayut Chan O’Cha, has stated that as long as the rally follows the law he encourages the group to express their opinions. The protesters have officially called for three things: A re-write of the constitution, to immediately stop all harassment of protesters both officially and unofficially and for Parliament to be dismissed, essentially causing the entire current government to step down. Some of the protesters have asked for additional, sometimes controversial, demands.
3. Further developments in the court case of the Red Bull heir, Vorayuth Yoovidhya
After an investigation conducted by a specially formed committee to investigate alleged corruption in the handling of a 2012 hit and run case that involved billionaire Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya found that “legal procedures had proceeded with dishonesty and conspiracy” further developments are expected next week according to the Truth and Law Committee of the Office of Attorney-General (OAG). A list of those allegedly involved in corruption and cover-ups have been provided to those investigating the situation, however, at this point the names have not been released to the press or public as officials have cited the situation is an ongoing investigation. The heir to Red Bull remains officially missing, presumed fled overseas, and has made no statements recently regarding the case. He faces three new charges.
4. Phuket to hold “town hall” on foreign tourism proposals as Pattaya and Koh Samui step up and state they would be willing to hold a tourism trial if some Phuket residents reject the plan
For weeks now different tourism proposals have been in the news, with the so-called “Phuket Model” being one of the leading proposals. The basics of the proposal are very similar to the current quarantine program but would allow those not in current prohibited categories like retired people and those looking to escape harsh winters in their home countries the opportunity to enter Thailand. However, some prominent Phuket residents have opposed the plan leading to the Tourism Authority of Thailand to plan a town hall to discuss the issue and perhaps take it to a formal vote. Meanwhile, Pattaya and Koh Samui have said they would likely be willing to conduct the test proposals while the Phi Phi islands have rejected the proposal, stating they are too small for a test.
5. More information will likely be released on positive Covid-19 tests over the past several weeks of a foreign football player and a DJ who is now a prisoner in Bangkok
After one confirmed locally spread case and a questionable case that arose yesterday regarding a Thai footballer, both cases should see more investigation and perhaps answers over the upcoming week. So far, hundreds of close contacts, including the wife and child who lived with the prisoner and teammates who were close to the footballer every day, have all tested negative for the Covid-19 virus. Both patients are asymptomatic.