Thailand News Today | Bank of Thailand to mount rescue of crumbling baht

Thailand News Today | Bank of Thailand to mount rescue of crumbling baht | News by Thaiger

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) is attempting to steer the baht and the economy
through some tricky times. As the government is apparently out of ideas to jump-
start the economy due to high debt, the responsibility has fallen to
the central bank.
The central bank’s recent move to raise the key policy rate by 0.25 percentage
points to 1% has, however, set some analysts wondering if the BOT had done
enough to stem the rapid depreciation of the baht, caused by the widening gap
between benchmark rates in Thailand and the United States. The Federal Reserve
Bank has aggressively raised the funds’ rate to a range of 3-3.25%. BOT governor
is ‘exhausted’ trying to explain the bank’s approach. Like the global equity market,
the Thai stock market has been highly volatile recently, and the baht fell to below 37
to the dollar, a key psychological barrier, raising fears that it could weaken to
40 per dollar. Analysts warned that the BOT should give priority to the weakening
baht rather than solely focusing on inflation. Moving too slowly could lead to higher
costs later. The baht has been lost just over 5% in the past month. The dollar has
appreciated about 18% this year, while the baht has weakened by 12, in the middle
of the group of currencies that had weakened compared with the Japanese yen,
which has dropped by 20%. With observers worried that the baht’s depreciation
will push up inflation, the BOT governor argued that so far,
the far weaker baht has not resulted in inflation. Headline inflation peaked in
the third quarter and it will start to decline, while core inflation
(excluding fresh food and energy) will peak in the fourth quarter.

According to Traisuree Traisoranakul, deputy government spokesperson, the
cabinet approved a project to build an international medical hub in Phuket
yesterday, at an estimated cost of about five billion baht. When complete, the
project is expected to generate about 62 billion baht in annual revenue through
medical tourism.
The Andaman International Medical Hub will serve as a training centre,
producing about 110 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical technicians and
other medical professionals. The project will include a facility for the research
and development of health services and will serve as a hospital, which will be
capable of treating basic to complicated medical conditions and will increase
confidence among locals and tourists alike that they will have access to reliable
and quality medical care, said the deputy spokesperson. The hospital will have
300 beds and will be able to handle no fewer than 12,500 complicated cases and
over 300,000 outpatients a year. It will also be equipped
with the first advanced dental facility in the southern region, she added.
The project is expected to help Thailand to become a medical hub and medical
tourism centre for the region, in line with the government’s 20-year national
strategy. The approximately 5 billion baht funding for the project will be spread over five
years, with 1.29 billion baht allocated next year, 1.66 billion baht for the second
year, 1.49 billion baht, 498 million baht and 193 million baht for the third, fourth
and fifth years respectively.

Thai Health Ministry starts vaccinating children from six months to four years
The Ministry of Public Health launched COVID-19 vaccinations for children, aged
from six months to 4-years-old today (Wednesday), using the “red-cap” Pfizer vaccine,
which has been approved by the Medical Sciences Department.
According to the government’s “Thai Khu Fah” webpage, the vaccination is voluntary
and only done with consent of parents. The vaccination regimen consists of three 3μg
doses over a three-month period. The first and second doses are administered
one month apart, followed by the third dose two months later. After the vaccination,
parents are advised to wait with their children at the vaccination venue for 30 minutes
for observation. The vaccination venue for this group of young children is separated from
other children, to prevent confusion over vaccine administration. Citing a study
in the United States, in which more than one million doses of a similar vaccine were
administered to children, the Public Health Ministry said that there were fewer cases
of side effects among young children than in older children and there has not been a
case of severe side effects or death among those vaccinated. The Ministry said that the
Pfizer vaccine is safe and can reduce the incidence of Multisystem Inflammatory
Syndrome among Children (MIS-C), a serious condition associated with COVID-19.

Manager of famous Thai rapper ‘Illslick’ given 2 years in prison over sex scandal
Yesterday, the court sentenced ‘Lily’, the manager of famous Thai rapper ‘Illslick’,
to two years in prison with no parole for ‘luring’ an 18 year old to have sex with
the rapper in Khon Kaen in northeast Thailand in February last year.
Khon Kaen Provincial Court found Lily [surname withheld] guilty of “satisfying
the lust of others by luring, supplying, leading a woman to commit indecent acts,
even if that person agreed.” The court argues that 18 year old Anna was naive and
pressured into saying yes to having sex with then 34 year old Tikhamporn “Illslick”
Wetthaisong from Khon Kaen province. Lily hired Anna – from Satun province –
for the vague role of “taking care of and helping” the rapper for 10 days in
February 2021. It seemed like an attractive job offer with a wage of 1,000 baht per day,
free food, accommodation, and travel expenses between provinces.
Being a fan of Illslick’s music, Anna was interested in the job. However, she was
never informed by Lily that she would be asked to have sex with the rapper. She
said she would not have taken on the job if she had known.
Anna, who was 18 years old at the time, travelled all the way from Satun in the
South to Khon Kaen in Isaan, Anna felt forced to say yes to having sex with
Illslick because she had nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to, she said.
The victim requested 3 million baht compensation for suffering caused by the
incident. However, her request was denied by the court, which confusingly said she
could not be compensated because she “voluntarily had sex.”
Illslick has not been charged at all over the scandal. The age of consent is 15 in
Thailand, where it is an offence for an adult to have sex with anyone under 18
years old.

A Thai motorcycle taxi rider in the southern province of Songkla said he ripped off a
Malaysian tourist because his washing machine was broken. The rider claims it is the first
time he overcharged a customer after demanding 500 baht from the stranded tourist for a
trip that is only two kilometres.
A member of the Hat Yai Municipality Council reported the incident on Facebook on
Monday, October 10. He revealed that he received a complaint about a Thai motorcycle
taxi rider from a Malaysian tourist. The foreign tourist told the council member that
his car had been clamped and he had to pay a fine at Mueng Had Yai Police Station to
get the clamp removed. The Malaysian flagged a nearby motorcycle taxi rider, who then
demanded 500 baht to take him to the police station. The council member revealed the
distance from the tourist’s car to the police station was about two kilometres,
and the fare should be about 100 baht for a round trip, not 500 baht.
Khaosod reported yesterday that Traffic Police Inspector had arrested the suspect
motorcycle rider. The council member made public that the motorcycle rider
initially refused the allegation saying the Malaysian tourist was happy
to give him 500 baht as a tip. He later admitted his crime however after the police
told him that he could be jailed for making a false statement. The motorcycle driver
confessed that he had no passengers that day. He spotted the Malaysian was stuck
and offered him a ride for an inflated fee. The motorcycle driver said he did not threaten
the tourist. He claimed he had been a motorbike taxi for 21 years and it was the first time
he had ripped off a customer. He added his washing machine was broken and he needed
the money to fix it. The taxi rider said he was remorseful and would like to apologise for
destroying the good reputation of the Hat Yai district. He was then charged under
Section 159 of the Land Transport Act: collecting transportation fees over the standard fare.
He could face a fine of up to 5,000 baht. Officers also detected that his motorcycle was untaxed
so he was fined an extra 2,000 baht. Police added they were considering suspending
his public transport licence.

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