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Phuket Business: Inflation up for Chinese NY

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Business: Inflation up for Chinese NY | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The head of the Department of Internal Trade (DIT) Phuket Office said that the 300 baht daily minimum wage has contributed to market inflation ahead of the Chinese New Year festivities.

DIT-Phuket Chief Supacha Bunthalit told the Phuket Gazette that increased wages directly increase base costs for farmers, suppliers and vendors.

“Of course it [the minimum wage rise] is one factor that will affect prices for the end users – the consumers,” she said.

However, Ms Supacha added that another important factor that needs to be considered is the fundamental market rule of ‘supply and demand’: “Due to the Chinese New Year, there has been an increased demand, and thus reduced supply of many types of produce in the market, which is another reason why prices have increased.”

Asked if prices would drop again after the Chinese New Year, Ms Supacha responded:

“There is no way we can tell at this point. It all depends on the vendors, their supplies and the demand for produce,” she emphasized.

Recently the Gazette reported that a market vendor at the busy Kaset Market in Phuket Town had told the Phuket Governor that the new minimum wage, effective nationwide as of January 1, was forcing vendors to pass on price hikes of fresh produce.

Governor Maitri Inthusut last week led officers to inspect food prices at the fresh market, located behind the Robinson department store in Phuket Town.

The purpose of the visit was to ensure against gouging ahead of the Chinese New Year festivities, which begin on February 10.

During his walk-through of the market, Governor Maitri noted that vegetable prices were on the rise. “Most vegetables have jumped 5 to 10 baht. Kale and Chinese kale were 25 baht per kilogram, now they are 35 baht per kilo,” he remarked.

“Fruit prices are increasing, too – especially oranges, as they are believed to be auspicious during Chinese New Year. Oranges are now 5 baht more a kilo. They were 75 baht, but are now 80 baht per kilogram. The price of green apples has also jumped, to 18 baht each; before they were 15 baht apiece,” he said.

Gov Maitri predicted the prices of other fruits to follow suit, notably fruits used as auspicious offerings during Chinese New Year ceremonies, such as bananas, pears and grapes

To this, fruit vendor Sakorn Ngarnwongpanit countered, “So far, only orange and apple prices have increased for the coming Chinese New Year, but it is like this every year – prices rise in response to rising demand.”

Non-vegans have also been hit by rising meat prices, the governor noted.

“Pork has increased by 10 baht, and is now 130 baht per kilogram, but the price of chicken has yet to increase,” Governor Maitri said.

Pork vendor Choompol Sae-Ng blamed the 300-baht minimum daily wage set by the government as the reason for the price of raw meat rising.

“A lot of people are complaining about the price of food going up, and saying that they have to buy it even if the prices go up. But it is because of the 300-baht minimum wage set by the government. The cost of production has increased, and so have the prices,” he said.

Mr Choompol warned that further price rises may be on their way, and that vendors will be forced to pass on to consumers any markups made by produce suppliers.

“We are keeping an eye on the prices. If pig farms raise their prices, then we will have to raise ours, too,” he said.

Relief ahead
While many consumers’ pocket books, if not food pantries, will take a major blow during the festivities, there is some relief on the way.

The DIT-Phuket Office announced that the Phuket City District (Amphoe Muang) will be holding its annual ‘cheap goods’ fair from February 28 to March 3.

Dubbed by the government the “Blue Flag Fair”, this once-a-year, district-level flea market will be held this year in the area of Sripuwanat Park in Wichit, located opposite of the Laem Chan health clinic in Wichit sub-district of Phuket Town.

Popular among low-to-medium income households, as well as food vendors the island over, the fair will host a select number of vendors selling food, clothes and other consumer goods at below-market-value prices.

DIT-Phuket chief Supacha Bunthalit told the Gazette that this year’s fair will feature a total of 34 tents with 70 booths in total.

“The vendors will be selling all kinds of living essentials, including eggs, chicken, vegetables, coffee, rice, fruit and many others.

“The goods aren’t necessarily subsidized by the government, but the vendors who register with us all agree to reduce their prices by 10 to 20% from the central price [recommendations], ” she explained.

Ms Supacha noted that this year’s fair is slightly smaller than last year’s, which was held in July and attracted about 80 vendors.

“Our [Blue Flag Fair] budget allocation this year was reduced by about 20 to 30%. We used to get 100,000 baht per fair, per district. Now we only get 70,000 to 80,000 baht to sponsor each fair. I’m not sure the reason why the budget was cut, as Phuket is still one of the most expensive provinces to live in…”

Chief Supacha noted that the Blue Flag Fair for Kathu district was held last month, while the respective fair for Thalang district is scheduled to be held in April.

“People looking to reduce the high cost-of-living burden should not miss out. Also, we are still accepting vendor registrations from anybody who is willing to sell daily essential goods for 10 to 20% lower than the central price… Approved vendors can reserve a booth free of charge for the entirety of the three day event.”

To register for or inquire about the Blue Flag Fair, contact the DIT-Phuket office on 076-219-516.

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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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