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Be a responsible investor – Phuket Finance

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Be a responsible investor – Phuket Finance | The Thaiger

PHUKET: There is much wrong with our world unfortunately. I am guessing this is not news to most of you, and the corporate profit motive is widely accepted as being a major cause of many of the modern world’s largest problems. I am often asked by clients how they can invest in the markets without inadvertently supporting or contributing to practices which would conflict with their sense of right and wrong.

The CEO of Nestle recently found himself in hot water for making a video in which he argues for privatization of the world’s water supply. Monsanto is facing a mounting reaction worldwide against genetically modified organisms, and Goldman Sachs is so interwoven with politics that it has come to be nicknamed “Government Sachs”.

Their stock is actually trading at less than ten times earnings at the time of this writing, and I expect the stock to be an even bigger value buy come the next market crash. This begs the question, ‘Is it ethical to seek profits from investing in the same companies we might very self-righteously blame blame for all of the ills of the world when we meet up with friends and colleagues for some Friday night cocktails.

I am not saying that any of the above mentioned companies are in fact unethical; I will leave it up to you to come to your own conclusions on that. In fact, many positive contributions by big companies are often overlooked as soon as they make one slip-up.

Still, the fact of the matter is that many of the largest corporations on the planet do have a profit motive to do things like try to convince Washington to drop bombs on other countries so that they will receive the contract to either replace those bombs or rebuild that which was destroyed.

While we all hope that those in decision making roles and holding political influence would have enough humanity within themselves to do the right thing when a conflict of interest arises between morality and opportunities for profit, there are no doubt instances where greed wins out.

That is unfortunately the world we live in, and it is so interconnected that if you invest in “the indexes”, for instance the S&P 500, the FTSE 100, or the DAX, you will no doubt end up holding some companies whose practices you don’t agree with.

Many would argue that you should avoid investing in these companies. Indeed, you could look at the sector allocation of an index and reproduce it in your portfolio, excluding any companies whose practices you do not agree with, or even certain sectors as a whole (the inner hippie in me finds the thought of investing in a company which makes bombs or drone technology very unpalatable).

The end result to your portfolio’s performance is that it is likely to underperform, unless you or your advisor happen to have better stock picking abilities than the average Wall Street analyst, who in a very famous study was beaten by some dart throwing monkeys. You may of course get lucky and over-perform as well, but I think in general this is the wrong approach.

Shareholder activism is much more likely to have a positive impact on the world. If you invest in a company, theoretically you have some sort of a say in things. I doubt Monsanto is going to give up on GMO products because you send them a letter threatening to sell your 100 shares, but if enough investors gather together they can in fact have an influence.

Unfortunately, most investors are passive and indirect as well. You likely invest in a fund who then invests in the shares, so you are not even a registered shareholder. However, if enough investors pressured fund managers as well as other shareholders to take an active role in campaigning for companies to “take the high road” on certain issues, there could slowly be a change in corporate cultures that have somewhere along the way become dominated by greed.

Maybe I am too optimistic, but I believe if change is going to come from anywhere, this is where it needs to be. The leading multinational companies of the world are so entrenched that I find it hard to believe they will be unseated by a band of “righteous start-ups”. They are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean their collective shareholders can’t guide them onto the path of becoming part of the solution.

David Mayes MBA resides in Phuket and provides wealth management services to expats around the globe, focusing on UK pension transfers. Faramond UK is regulated by the FCA and advises on pensions and taxation – email david.m@faramond.com or call 085-335 8573.

Keep checking our online Phuket Business pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for local and national business news.

— David Mayes

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military

Maya Taylor

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Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook

Facebook has confirmed the removal of 185 accounts run by the Thai military and allegedly involved in information-influencing. The social media giant says the accounts were deleted for engaging in what it calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. In total, 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups have been removed from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. It’s the first time Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.

The accounts were associated with the Thai military and were targeting people in the southern provinces, Facebook said its regular report on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country has been the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the majority-Muslim, Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.

Facebook says the deleted accounts were most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both openly military pages and pages that hid their links to the military. Some of the fake profiles pretended to be people from the southern provinces.

The report mentioned a post by the now-removed account named “comprehending the operation” in Thai. The page posted the logo for Amnesty International Thailand and wrote “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Any case is not big news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we don’t see anything from the NGO.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role nor money.”

On another now-removed account, named “truth about my home Pattani” in Thai, a post said “Muslim leader declares southern border is a peace zone. The southern separatists started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under control by different believers so that people would come and fight for their religion. This was declared that the action clearly violates Islam faith.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “Southern border is not Jihad zone.”

When contacted by Reuters, the military had no comment on the removal of the Facebook accounts, with a spokesman saying the organisation does not comment outside of official press conferences.

The head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, has confirmed the reasons behind the platform’s decision.

“This is the first time that we’ve attributed one of our takedowns to links to the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.”

He adds that the accounts had spent around US$350 on advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. One or more of the pages had about 700,000 followers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were removed because of their misleading behaviour and not because of the content being posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism of insurgent groups in the south.

It’s not the first time accounts linked to the Thai military have been removed by a social media platform. In October, Twitter removed 926 accounts it says had links to the army and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai army has denied any involvement with the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended an account posting pro-monarchy content that was found to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.

To read the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, click HERE.

SOURCES: Reuters| Facebook

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Central Thailand

Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers

Maya Taylor

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Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

An airline executive has been arrested in the central province of Samut Songkhram, after complaints from150 employees that they had not been paid. Chawengsak Noiprasan, who had a court warrant issued against him in October, was taken to Don Muang police station from a property in the Bang Khan Take sub-district. He is a board member of Siam Air Transport.

The airline began operations in October 2014 with services out of Don Mueang to Hong Kong, using 2 Boeing 737-300s. 2 Boeing 737-800s were added to its fleet in late 2015. It expanded by adding Zhengzhou and Guangzhou in China to its network in early 2015. In late 2015, the airline launched flights to Macau and Singapore. In 2017, the airline ceased all operations.

But according to an article in the Bangkok Post, the carrier operates a number of scheduled and charter flights from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. The Post reports that, as Chawengsak signs the company’s legal paperwork, all legal matters concerning the airline fall to him.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau says the executive has admitted to ignoring a 30 day notice issued by the labour inspector and ordering the payment of wages to 150 workers. It’s understood he is also wanted in relation to 7 other cases.

The authorities sought Chawengsak’s arrest following complaints from employees who say they haven’t received their wages for 2 months. It’s understood the airline had previously deferred salary payments for over 8 months. 150 workers filed an official complaint with Don Mueang police and also approached media outlets, asking them to pressure the airline into paying the money owed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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