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Comprehensive worldwide survey examines the expat experience

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Comprehensive worldwide survey examines the expat experience | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Online expatriate networking site InterNations recently released its first Expat Insider report, which provides insight into the experience of those who choose to live, retire or work abroad.

The report is an agglomeration of survey results from about 14,000 respondents representing 165 nationalities residing in 169 countries. The questionnaire focuses on the traits of a host country, including quality of life, ease of settling, working abroad, family life, cost of living and more.

THE LOCAL PERSPECTIVE

With an estimated expatriate population exceeding 100,000, Phuket’s transplants may wonder where their host country ranks in the survey results.

Where Thailand hits its highest marks, according to survey respondents, is in the cost of living category, where it occupies the number two spot between nearby number three, Vietnam, and Ecuador, which tops the list as the cheapest country for expats to relocate to.

About three-quarters of Thailand-based respondents found day-to-day life less taxing on their bank accounts compared with the global average of 35%.

Although InterNations was unable to provide respondent data specifically for the Phuket region, the tropical resort destination is notoriously expensive relative to the rest of the country.

According to the consumer price index (CPI), over the eight months from January to September last year, the national inflation rate decreased by 0.18%, while prices in Phuket increased by 1.5%.

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Land and property prices have been steadily increasing over the past decade, and new offerings in the high-end villa market as well as an ongoing boom in condominium and resort construction are driving property values up, leading to an overall increase in the cost of living on the island.

The idea that Phuket fits the general stereotype of the rest of the country is increasingly becoming a common misconception among visitors, and especially expat transplants. Phuket is growing out of its reputation as a tropical island suited for shoestring budgets.

Retiree expats who landed in Phuket because they could stretch their money farther or were promised a higher quality of life for better value, may now be met with a slightly different reality.

THE REST OF THE STORY

On InterNations’ list of top expat destinations, Thailand ranked 22nd overall, with Ecuador, Luxembourg and Mexico taking the top three spots, respectively. Of the 61 countries rated, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were relegated to the bottom of the list.

The demographic landscape regarding survey respondents in Thailand shows about two-thirds being male, with an average age of 47. The survey participants hail mostly from the United States, Britain and Australia.

Of the top three professions of those expats working in the Kingdom, it may be somewhat of a surprise that only 8% work as teachers/academic staff, while a quarter fill roles as employees/managers.

Contrary to the global average of 16% moving abroad to capitalize on an employment opportunity, 13% cite the reason for leaving home to reside in Thailand as simply enjoying living abroad.

And why shouldn’t they, when four out of five welcome Thailand’s tropical weather with open arms?
With the good comes the bad, and in the Land of Smiles expats admittedly struggle learning the language, with only 13% finding it at all easy in any way to learn. However, with three-quarters of respondents in Thailand finding the locals warm and friendly, compared with the global average of 55%, there is no lack of new friends to practice Thai with.

Expats in Phuket might be surprised to learn that 16% of respondents in Thailand actually rated the public transportation infrastructure as “excellent” – possibly indicating the number of respondents living in Bangkok.

While Thailand-based expats are four times more likely to have doubts about the country’s political stability and peacefulness – and for good reason, considering the frequency of military coups – 84% felt that their personal safety was not in danger, which is just about the global average.

The Kingdom also stumbled in regard to foreigners’ faith in the economy, with less than half finding any confidence in it. Respondents were also 17% less satisfied with their career prospects than their fellow expats globally.

The 197-page report is overflowing with data, not only about the countries hosting expatriate populations, but also insights into those nationalities who choose to live abroad and what their motives are for adopting the emigrant lifestyle.

To read the full report, click here.

— Jeremie Schatz

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

Business

Slow return of foreign tourism makes more redundancies inevitable – Airlines Association of Thailand

Maya Taylor

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Slow return of foreign tourism makes more redundancies inevitable – Airlines Association of Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The president of the Airlines Association of Thailand says further layoffs in the sector are inevitable, due to the slow return of international tourism. In a Bangkok Post report, Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth says the sluggish revival of foreign tourism, now not expected until the last quarter of the year, means all carriers continue to face financial hardship. And while there was a surge in the domestic market during the last quarter of 2020, the return of the virus in late December brought demand to a grinding halt.

“We suffered a tremendous domestic impact during the second wave, and it will take months to climb back to its peak again. While re-opening for international markets will likely occur with few countries that have bilateral agreements with Thailand first, as health safety is a big issue for local communities.”

Significant layoffs have already happened over the course of the pandemic, with staff numbers at 7 carriers under the AAT umbrella now standing at 16,000, down from between 25,000 and 30,000, prior to Covid-19. Bangkok Airways has cut 20% of its workforce and only has 30% of its fleet in operation. Puttipong, who is also the airline’s president, says it transported just 300 passengers a day during the month of January. Peak passenger numbers prior to the pandemic were around the 5,000 mark. Covid-19 has also led to the demise of low-cost carrier Nok Scoot, which went out of business in June 2020.

Puttipong predicts that Thailand’s aviation sector could take 4 years to get back to anything like the 40 million foreign arrivals of 2019. He says all carriers will need to look at cost-saving initiatives as the only means of long-term survival. Thai Air Asia is one of 7 airline members of the AAT calling for a 14 billion baht soft loan. The carrier has been pushing the government to re-open, warning that Thailand risks losing its status as an international hub.

The Bangkok Post reports that the AAT plans to submit 3 requests to state agencies this week. They are calling for the vaccination programme to be extended to airline workers as a matter of priority, for the rapid introduction of a vaccine passport policy, and for the Transport Ministry to prepare the necessary regulations for international flights.

Puttipong has welcomed the recent decision to reduce quarantine for vaccinated arrivals, pointing out that the 14-day quarantine was the most significant hurdle preventing the return of foreign tourists.

“It’s quite impossible for tourists and business travellers to take 14-day quarantines before and after trips. They might have money to spend, but they don’t have the luxury of time to be kept in isolation for almost a month.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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