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Phuket Business: a collective island soul

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Business: a collective island soul | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Life in the brick house is in full holiday swing. Gargantuan cement trucks ante for position alongside monster buses teeming with an endless array of travelers.

Despite a rising urban swell that is pushing development heavenwards, there has to be more to Phuket’s economic success story than bricks, mortar and an endless amount of infinity swimming pools.

I tend to travel in Asia a lot these days, from prime resort islands to bustling international gateway metropolitan cities. Often, conversation turns to my home field and what’s unique or special about the island

Hitting my mind’s eye rewind button one tends to realize that these chats tend to center around ideas, successes and inspiration which were created by mankind (make that people to be gender correct), and not just ultra villas, posh luxury hotels or branded shopping.

My Phuket comes down to a field of dreams where individuals have the ability to become a latter day Columbus (I’m going to forgo the entire debate on who discovered the New World), but Chris seems a likely idiom for a journey without maps.

For all the bar jockeys, grumpy old men (women and children included), pessimists and generally glum lifeless personalities, please read on at your own risk. Despite what the Mayans say, 2012 will not be the end of the world and I see no proof that your wished for demise of Phuket is anything but a seriously troubled mind.

With our Christmas Holiday spirit, I’d like to take a few moments to give a high five and a pat on the back to some well deserving individuals who represent how anyone can come to the island and make positive changes.

Let’s start out with wonder woman Debbie Dionysius who heads Destination Marketing at Laguna Phuket. She has been a key player in the initiatives which have brought Brand Phuket on a global trek. Starting with the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, then a marathon and now the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship.

With organizing skills that would be the envy of many a government diplomat and the ability to pull off big events with style and success, she continues to pump up the volume to an attractive growing number of visitors.

For me, she is without a doubt the island’s personality of the year for 2011.

Next up is Susan Usher (aka Lady Pie). Yes, long before the world went gaga, Susan, who is one of the hardest working and tireless individuals I know, started up a small Aussie pie shop.

Putting herself on the line in the entrepreneurial start up was never easy, but today you can travel from North to South, East to West in Phuket and never be far from an outlet carrying her products.

However, it doesn’t stop there, in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand, the Lady Pie brand has continued to surge with Susan as the hard working front of the business.

As for gentlemen, real estate developer Stephen Paine has put a footprint of upscale luxury here and delivered on promises. Starting out at Surin Heights and now at Nai Thon’s Malaiwana, the bar has continued to be pushed higher.

Successfully selling ultra villas that bring high net worth individuals here is not easy task, but Stephen has brought out the best in the projects he is involved with.

Word of mouth continues to be the best promotion and for the properties he has sold, the wider benefits to Phuket have to be appreciated with perhaps the kudos – good job.

Longtime hotelier extraordinaire Olivier Gibaud went from international hotel chain mainstay to key player in the development of homegrown icon Twinpalms.

Continuing to innovate from a design resort, fantastic weekend buffet, Catch Beach Club, Bake and Flame, he is without a doubt someone who changed the playing field and brought a fresh breath of air to his particular industry.

While charity begins at home, Chantal Fernandes brings boundless enthusiasm, charm and a huge amount of heart to every aspect of her life. Shifting gears a few years ago from her work at the luxury Amanpuri resort, she embraced an opportunity to raise her young children and take on a key role in Phuket’s evolving charity landscape.

I find it hard to even keep track of what big event, organization or outreach is her current focus. Certainly her work with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd has positively impacted the needy kids and families here. All I can say is she must have a boatload of red bull stashed next to her house, given her boundless energy and true dedication to the cause at hand.

Last and certainly not least is Anchalika Kijkanakorn of the Aleenta Resort just over the bridge in Greater Phuket. She remains a great example of Thai leadership with her developing hotel brand, but more importantly she has championed the Pure Blue Foundation.

Holding regular fund-raising events which aim for coral reef restoration and taking a long term view of putting something back into the tourism sector remain highly admirable qualities.

So there you have it. I may be wrapping up with a Hallmark greeting card moment, but the point is that people make Phuket such a special, thriving and a wonderful place to live.

For those on the sidelines, perhaps this is a wake up call that game time is here. Leadership goes by example and for the individuals mentioned, thanks for your contributions to Phuket.

Bill Barnett is Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks and can be contacted through: c9hotelworks.com.

— 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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