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It was a very good year – Annual Report for 2018, The Thaiger

The Thaiger

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It was a very good year – Annual Report for 2018, The Thaiger | The Thaiger
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byTim Newton, CEO – The Thaiger

Firstly, we’d like to thank everyone who has been a valuable part of a mega 12 months for The Thaiger in 2018. It’s been an often-rocky ride but ended up with all the pieces falling into place with the stage set for a massive 2019.

Whereas we started 2018 as a brash media start-up, we’ve ended the year, statistically, as a local leader with audiences continuing to be attracted by our fresh approach, quick delivery and accurate, relevant content. Whilst some Thai media are fighting to maintain circulation and prop-up their old business models, The Thaiger has truly thrived in 2018 as we relentlessly, and sometimes recklessly, keep trying new ideas and new technology.

This year was a year of some fundamental changes to our coverage and scope. Not simply a voice for the island of Phuket anymore, The Thaiger became a national news player, whilst still retaining our Phuket roots and excellent coverage for the island community.

The start of April 2018 also saw the transition of the Phuket Gazette/The Thaiger brand to simply ‘The Thaiger’. Changing our domain was a major effort for our IT team and just the first of many successes for the best IT team in Thailand. As before, The Thaiger will continue to be custodian of the vast 23 year resource of Phuket Gazette articles which readers can continue to search in our website.

It was a very good year - Annual Report for 2018, The Thaiger | News by The Thaiger

Whilst we were attracting around 200,000 page views per month in April this year, we end the year with nearly one million page views per month and the growth will continue in 2019. If you were a newspaper in days past, getting a 500% growth in ‘circulation’ over a year would be a major achievement.

2018 also saw us reaching out to a new Thai-language audience with a fresh new approach to coverage not seen by Thai readers in the past. This will also continue to evolve and grow in 2019.

Whilst 2018 has seen consolidation and growth in Thaiger social media, that will move into hyperdrive in 2019 as we reach out on all the favorite social media platforms with more, engaging and better posts – in Thai and English.

In staff numbers The Thaiger has grown from five at the start of the year to 14 at the end of 2018. Our home office in Kathu is now a main road premises in Kamala which we share with our digital media partners. Three more staff join the Thaiger team in January 2019.

The original Thaiger product – The Thaiger 102.75 FM – has cemented itself as the island’s choice for local information, reliability, great music and its commitment to local news, seven days a week. Garry, Gerry and Tom were a formidable and professional core team throughout the year.

If there was one feature this year it would be the amazing success of our coverage of the Tham Luang cave rescues. Apart from the story being big international news, it also launched The Thaiger to many, many new followers. For a week we were Thailand’s preferred social media source (in English) beating our much larger and better resourced competitors. Whilst it wasn’t planned to be that way, we hit a note with our cable TV-like approach to updates and coverage. It was a milestone for The Thaiger in 2018.

It was a very good year - Annual Report for 2018, The Thaiger | News by The Thaiger

Looking into the 2019 crystal ball, thethaiger.com is planning 650% traffic growth in the next 12 months and has budgeted to grow bottomline earnings by 350%.

2019 will also see The Thaiger reach beyond the borders of Thailand and replicate our successful platform in other key markets in Southeast Asia. This, whilst we work to increase brand recognition amongst our key demographic in Thailand and attract more daily visitors.

You, the readers, listeners and viewers, are the only reason we do this every day. Your support, and sometimes your savage criticism, have helped to make our product better throughout 2018. Everything we do, daily, is to make the product more relevant and useful for YOU. The Thaiger is nothing without your trust in what we do.

Our sponsors make it all possible and we thank them for their faith in our product and the valuable finances that allow us to keep going. We look forward to continuing the journey with you into 2019.

Finally, as the past ‘front man’ for The Thaiger, I am very happy to be stepping back and allowing some of our new staff to take the limelight and share their talents in 2019. The company has reached the stage where it now requires a lot more hands-on management.

I would like to thank Mike, Noom, Garry, Gerry, Goongnang, Tom, Donna, Brennan, Paul, Darren, Paulie, Eugene, Pond, Mam and Uddy as well as our media partners The Nation and Newshawk Phuket. Also the many, many contributors and contractors that make up the extended Thaiger family.

We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable new year and look forward to serving all our customers and stakeholders better in 2019.

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Business

“Come and see” – Ministry invites diplomats to see coconut-picking monkeys in action

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“Come and see” – Ministry invites diplomats to see coconut-picking monkeys in action | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Atlas Obscura

The monkeys, and the Thai government, are hitting back at accusations macaque monkeys are being exploited, even abused, and forced to pick coconuts for commercial farmers. Some larger western retailers say they’re going to pull Thai coconut products off their shelves after being lobbied by animal rights activist that the coconuts were picked by abused and over-worked macaque monkeys.

The Thai Commerce Ministry, coconut farmers and the “monkey school” trainers are dismissing reports, and a dramatic video from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal), that the coconut-picking monkeys are maltreated. So they’re organising a tour for foreign diplomats and the media to see the monkeys at work and decide for themselves.

The permanent secretary for commerce, responding to the reports, says the monkey owners don’t abuse or exploit the animals which have been “humanely trained” to pick coconuts. He has instructed attaches in foreign Thai embassies to provide an explanation to retailers in other countries who have expressed concerns and even instigated boycotts.

“The ministry is ready to invite foreign diplomats to visit coconut plantations and see how the monkeys pick coconuts so they will realise this is not animal cruelty.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Pramual Pongthawaradej, a Demo­crat Party MP for Prachuap Khiri Khan province, the Chair of a House subcommittee tackling falling coconut prices, says they’ve approached owners of coconut milk plants to justify their practices to PETA. They’ve also asked the Department of Agriculture to provide details regarding the use of monkeys to pick coconuts.

A video from Touronthai shows an operating monkey-school posted 4 years ago…

But Somjai Saekow, an owner of a monkey school which trains macaques in Surat Thani, says… “the practice of capturing monkeys from the wild to pick coconuts ceased a long time ago”.

“Currently, monkeys are bred and raised before being trained. They are not forced to pick 1,000 coconuts from trees everyday, and they don’t work every day.

“Coconut-picking monkeys are mostly males and their abilities vary. The owner of the monkey receives 2 baht per a coconut picked.”

“Foreigners may not understand our livelihood. Also, humans are not built to climb up a coconut tree to pick fruit. They will be at risk, compared to monkeys which have the natural ability to do so.”

An owner of monkeys in Surat Thani, denied the claims of poor treatment or abuse of the coconut-picking monkeys.

“There is no cruelty. Actually, they are looked after well. They are fed well with rice, milk, and fruit three times a day. They are treated like family members.”

PETA claims pigtailed macaques in Thailand were treated like “coconut-picking machines”.

“Following PETA’s investigation, more than 15,000 stores will no longer purchase these brands’ products, with the majority also no longer buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand monkey labour.”

PETA said it had found 8 farms around Thailand where monkeys had been forced to pick coconuts for commercial export.

“Male monkeys are able to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day.”

“Other coconut-growing regions, including Brazil, Colombia and Hawaii, harvest coconuts using humane methods such as tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, willing human tree-climbers, rope or platform systems, or ladders, or they plant dwarf coconut trees.”

“PETA went further by calling on “decent people never to support the use of monkey labour by shunning coconut products from Thailand”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

PETA reveals ‘abused’ monkeys used to pick coconuts in Thailand

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PETA reveals ‘abused’ monkeys used to pick coconuts in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: PETA

A boycott is in full swing amongst western retailers to pull Thai coconut products off their shelves following allegations that the coconuts have been picked by monkeys who were ‘abused’ to learn how to pick coconuts. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals director, Elisa Allen, claims the macaque monkeys are “snatched from the wild” and cruelly trained to climb up coconut trees and pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day.

“These curious, highly intelligent animals are denied psychological stimulation, companionship, freedom, and everything else that would make their lives worth living, all so that they can be used to gather coconuts.”

PETA says that the Thai pigtailed macaques are treated like “coconut-picking machines”. A new investigation into Thailand’s coconut industry reveals the monkeys are confined to cramped cages, chained, and forced to work. PETA reports that the monkeys are used by commercial farms that supply 2 of Thailand’s best-known coconut milk brands, Aroy-D and Chaokoh. Both brands are exported EU countries and the US.

In the UK, Waitrose, Ocado, Co-op and Boots have now announced they will stop selling some coconut products from Thailand. A spokesperson for Tesco told the BBC… “Our own-brand coconut milk and coconut water does not use monkey labour in its production and we don’t sell any of the branded products identified by PETA”.

“Following PETA’s Asia’s investigation, more than 15,000 stores will no longer purchase these brands’ products, with the majority also no longer buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand monkey labour.”

PETA has shared a video narrated by Downton Abbey star Peter Egan. According to PETA, the video shows ‘monkeys pacing and circling endlessly on chains… confined to cramped cages with no shelter from the rain… forced to climb trees and pick coconuts for milk sold by major brands’.

PETE claims it had found 8 farms in Thailand where monkeys were forced to pick coconuts for export around the world. Male monkeys can pick up to 1,000 coconuts in a day. It’s thought that a human can pick about 80.

“Other coconut-growing regions, including Brazil, Colombia and Hawaii, harvest coconuts using humane methods such as tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, willing human tree-climbers, rope or platform systems, or ladders, or they plant dwarf coconut trees.”

The group said it has uncovered “monkey schools”, where the macaque species monkeys are trained to pick coconuts, fruit, as well as ride bikes or play basketball for the entertainment of tourists.

“The animals at these facilities, many of whom are illegally captured as babies, displayed stereotypic behaviour indicative of extreme stress.”

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Crime

Prohibition activist criticises unequal enforcement of Thai alcohol laws

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Prohibition activist criticises unequal enforcement of Thai alcohol laws | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Thaiger

The head of the prohibitionist Alcohol Watch Network is criticising the Office of Alcohol Beverage Control and police for looking the other way after ML Piyapas Bhirombhakdi posted a photo of herself showing off a branded bottle of an alcoholic drink on her Instagram profile (the picture has since been deleted). Piyapas is not only a great-granddaughter of HRH Prince Nares Varariddhi, a son of HM King Rama IV, but is the wife of Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, an heir to the Boon Rawd Brewery fortune and executive vice president of Singha Corp. Her post showed her holding a new Boon Rawd product.

Kamron Choodecha argues that the bottle and brand were clearly visible and, given that Piyapas has a vested interest in Boon Rawd’s sales, her post must be construed as sales or marketing, violating the Alcohol Beverage Control Act, which prohibits any sort of alcohol marketing online. He claims the fact she has not been fined, even as police extract hundreds of thousands of baht in fines from ordinary people posting harmless photos of themselves enjoying alcoholic beverages, shows the inequality in Thai society and the privilege elites are given when it comes to the law.

Others may argue, however, that the hypocrisy of the incident illustrates only how ludicrous the law is. Sporadically enforced over the years, the law again made headlines this year when foreign-managed alcohol distributor Beervana was fined 50,000 baht for an online post describing one of its products as “refreshing,” which contravened a ban on adjectives in marketing copy.

In the days that followed reports surfaced across the country of the OABC and police summoning people and slapping them with huge fines for posts that had no connection to sales or marketing.

Most recently, a young woman in Thailand’s South was fined 17,000 baht for posting a photo of a beer she liked to a beer fan page. The page owner was so outraged that he paid 5,000 baht of the fine and met face to face with regulators to protest the law.

Even Kamron, an anti-alcohol zealot, admits that the law is being misused by police and authorities. He says simply using the word “beer” or posting photos of bottles or glasses does not break the law, as long as brands are not shown. He believes the law’s intent is only to prevent advertising of alcoholic beverages on conventional and social media platforms. He argues that if the poster had no commercial intent, no one should be fined.

“But if authorities are going to strictly interpret the law, distant royal relatives or any other elite member of society should be punished equally.”

By the way there is an alcohol ban on for the next two days.

2 Buddhist holidays, Asahna Bucha Day and the start of Buddhist Lent, fall this weekend, and as a result the government has added Monday, July 6, as a national holiday. There will be an alcohol ban on the Sunday (July 5) and Monday (July 6). No alcohol will be sold or served on these days.

Prohibition activist criticises unequal enforcement of Thai alcohol laws | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Nation Thailand

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