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Don’t stick your head in the sand, start investing

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Don’t stick your head in the sand, start investing | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Lately, a lot of the phone calls I’ve been getting are from nervous retirees. They’re nervous for two reasons: One, many of my clients have seen their accounts go up by quite a bit. After all, the US stock market is showing all-time highs. If clients just purchased the ETF of the S&P 500, they’re up 17% in the past year.

For those that might have been more aggressive and purchased a stock like Facebook, they’ve made over 100% on their money.

A year ago, when Facebook was trading at US$25, it was a no-brainer investment for me. I use it every day and many expats that I know use it stay in touch with their families. The average Facebook user spends about 40 minutes a day on it. The company now accounts for $1 of every $5 spent on mobile advertising.

The reason shares had sold off after the IPO was that investors were concerned that more users were logging into Facebook on mobile devices and that Facebook would not be able to monetize mobile. Well, a year ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg came out and said that he will win the war for mobile ad dollars. Boy, did he deliver.

The problem now is that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, issued a cautionary statement on social media and biotech stocks in the middle of July. The Fed said that share prices of certain sectors “do appear substantially stretched.” When the Fed speaks, I listen.

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This leads me to the second reason many of my callers are nervous. Many are seeing these headlines and have not invested in the stock market yet. They’re fearful that the market is going to crash and they don’t want to be investing at a market top. Remember, it’s buy low and sell high and not buy high and sell low.

So the question facing many investors today is, “what do I do next?” If you’re already invested, do you sell and get out of the market? And if you haven’t invested yet, how do I start after the market has gone up so much?

Well, there’s no clear answer to these questions. A lot depends on your individual situation. For instance, some of my clients are offshore oil workers. They generate good income every month and they can invest through the market’s ups and downs. Over the long-run, blue chip stocks and equities have proven to be the best investment for retirement.

For those that haven’t invested yet and don’t have the income of an offshore oil worker, they have to get defensive. What do I mean by this? Well, you want to be in stocks that will do well no matter what.

Two of my favorite defensive stocks are McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. People all over the world are going to continue eating McDonald’s and drinking Coca-Cola. Just go to our local McDonald’s here in Phuket and we can see all the Chinese and Russian tourists choosing to eat a Big Mac and fries over our delicious Thai food.

And what’s the beverage of choice at McDonald’s? It’s a Coke.Why I like these two stocks is that the Great Depression of our lifetime was in 2008 and 2009. This was when the global economy almost collapsed, but shares of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola held up better than other stocks. Throughout this period, both McDonald’s and Coca-Cola paid their dividends and investors got a 3% dividend yield.

McDonald’s and Coca-Cola’s businesses are so strong that it’s like putting your money in the bank and collecting 3%. They’re not going out of business tomorrow.

Buying McDonald’s and Coca-Cola is not for everyone. Some may not like their businesses and think that the trend is towards healthier foods and beverages.

The point is that McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are just two options when it comes to getting defensive with your investments. There are a number of ETFs, MLPs, REITS, utilities, and other consumer companies that do just as well in a down market. They also pay the nice dividends that we retirees need to live on here in Thailand. (Stay tuned for my next article on the Vanguard Real Estate Investment Trust ETF which pays a nice dividend.)

“The first step towards financial freedom is realizing that you need a plan and then making the call and devising that plan. So give me a call and we can discuss what options are right for you. We can tailor a plan that fits your needs and that’s what’s important.

Don Freeman is president of Freeman Capital Management, a Registered Investment Adviser with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), based in Phuket, Thailand. He has over 15 years experience and provides personal financial planning and wealth management to expatriates. Specializing in UK and US pension transfers. Call 089-970 5795 or email: freemancapital@gmail.com.

— Don Freeman

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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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