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Last Call – Table for three, please

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Last Call – Table for three, please | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The intersection, or better yet juxtaposition between the mythical Cyclops of desire and loathing is hardly visible to the naked eye. I might be going a little too “fru fru” here so let’s back away from the table a bit. Slowly, making sure not to stumble over a nearby sleeping soi dog.

Back we go to the beginning of the story, down into the belly of the beast. It was a bright sunny morning in Bangkok when the world seemed right, and each and every step forward had a glowing air of optimism and hope. Little did I know that in the span of a short but sweet ten minutes, my entire life would come crashing down around my ankles like baggy pants without a belt.

My morning ritual as every Phuket Gazette reader knows, consists of immediate caffeinating as soon as possible after waking. While some could consider it a primal scream for help, in my mind it’s mandatory and yes mildly addictive. Being off the island and unable to visit my local spot, I headed off to a nearby Starbucks.

My heart started thumping as soon as the green and white sign was spotted but also anxiety struck a sudden sour note that resonated all the way to my toes – could I find a vacant comfy mock-leather seat to gloat after my anticipated ascension to the heavens of coffeedom?

In the world of coffee shops there is a clear line between the haves and the have-nots. It’s a rampant, random sort of apartheid that ultimately comes down to timing and luck. On this sunny day, my luck was about to turn south, and I’m not talking Rawai. Further past Malaysia and even Tasmania, down to the tip of the Southern Hemisphere where the ice house rules.

Just as I had walked in, the last vacant easy chair was snatched out from under me by a young lady bearing three mobile phones, some sort of meat on large sticks in a plastic bag and a pair of high heels. Yes as we all know in slipperland, Cinderella goes to work in flip flops. She appeared to be settling in for the duration, so, crestfallen, I limped up to the counter and meekly ordered a grande latte.

It was a busy day at the bucks and oddly enough the seat left was next to the trash can and door. This was of course one of those uncomfortable wooden chairs and tables which are meant to hold job interviews, or else discourage you from hanging out too long as they are simply put – uncomfortable.

My line of sight though was directed to the woman who immediately started working all three mobile devices but didn’t seem to order anything. No green tea frapo whipped cream in a giant plastic cup or even a nuked pastry. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. “Who the hell does she think she is?” I cried out inside.

Yes my moments of indignation were punctuated by the pain of a door being shut on my food and avoiding filled trash bags hurled my way. In real estate or hotels, it’s all about location. This one sucked.

In these tortuous moments, I took a moment to reflect on a lifetime spent developing a seating strategy. This started at a young age in school trying to get a permanent desk near to that lovely little blond girl who made your heart thump like a hyped-up kangaroo. Of course you ended up sitting next to the class pest or worse.

By the time you start dating and become more mature with those romantic dinners out with just the two of you, the trick is to avoid the terrible twosome conundrum of being next to the kitchen or else squeezed into the lush vegetation which has you saying “Dr Livingston, I presume?” The answer of course was to book a table for three which always ended up in prime-time placement and when asked where the third person was, you simply answered in a hushed tone about a vague medical emergency.

Meanwhile back at Starbucks, I was conflicted. Lacking the presence of coffee shop police, would the 18-year-old manager appreciate my concern about outsiders using the premises without buying anything. Or should I storm over and cause a scene, ejecting this interloper to prove a point?

Could I, should I rise to the occasion? Just as I was about to reach the moment of decision the door swung wide, hit my own wooden table and vaulted my grande latte straight into my lap. Of course that’s another story.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks and can be contacted though C9hotelworks.com.

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— Bill Barnett

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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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