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Phuket business: A speculative investment

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PHUKET: I remember as a young kid growing up in the US often seeing bumper stickers on cars with slogans about freeing Burma.

When I was I first planning to move to Phuket, Thailand I still had no idea where Burma was, as the maps now showed some country I had never heard of called “Myanmar” bordering the Kingdom to the west. The rate of recent positive developments in Burma has been staggering: democratic elections were held, an historic visit by Hillary Clinton took place and Aung San Suu Kyi is free and being allowed to run for parliament. I have been asked a lot recently about investment opportunities arising out of this situation.

The short answer is most likely yes, for sure there will be some. Unfortunately I have not seen any Myanmar funds offered just yet by any of the major fund houses. It may not be long until we see the first Burmese fund offered internationally though. I personally will be keeping a lookout for such a development, as getting in on a situation like this early is where the best returns are always made (imagine having invested in the Chinese markets a few years before the major bull market there initially took off). The other thing to take into serious consideration is the risk element, and any investment into Myanmar would need to be considered highly speculative.

You need to keep in mind that Burma has been quite defiantly isolated from the bulk of the world economically for an extremely long period of time. While the recent changes have come at a rapid pace, should the relationship with the rest of the world hit a snag it would not be a surprise to see the generals take control back and go into isolation for another 20 years before deciding to restart their current experiment. Obviously in that scenario any investment into the country whether directly or via a fund would no doubt go very pear shaped. You should always plan for the worst case scenario when making speculative investments.

My personal opinion is that the generals have finally figured out that by “going democratic” they will not really lose any significant power, but will go down in history as the ones who finally freed the country. Given the vast undeveloped resources of the country this will most likely lead to a period of rapid growth and huge increases in prosperity, which will further allow them to gain a lasting legacy with the people of the country. This scenario would obviously lead to the types of investment opportunities which do not come around every day.

If you have a speculative part of your portfolio waiting to be allocated, Myanmar may indeed be a situation worth monitoring very closely in the coming years. It is likely too early now, but I think that if the current trend continues a Myanmar themed fund is likely to be on the markets at some point in the not too distant future and may be one of the safest ways to participate in a coming boom in the country. Just please make sure you understand the highly speculative nature of such an allocation beforehand.

David Mayes MBA lives in Phuket and provides wealth management services to expatriates around the globe, specializing in UK pension transfers. He can be reached at 085-335-8573 or david.m@faramond.com.

— David Mayes

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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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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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

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.

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 companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

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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Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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