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Phuket business: Thailand-UK trade steady; London Olympics to give Thai food exports a boost

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket business: Thailand-UK trade steady; London Olympics to give Thai food exports a boost | The Thaiger

PHUKET: After a moving ceremony handing out IB diplomas to graduating students at the British International school, HE Ambassador Asif Ahmad took time to speak with the Phuket Gazette about the strong links between the two countries.

HE Asif Ahmad was made Ambassador to Thailand in late 2010 but had traveled frequently to the Kingdom, first as Director- Asia for UK Trade and Investment and more recently as Head of the South East Asia and Pacific Group for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A holiday destination for more than 850,000 British citizens a year, Thailand is also home to a number of British businesses and trade flows well between the two countries. One of the embassy’s roles is helping British companies to succeed in Thailand and South East Asia and to smooth the path for Thai investors in the UK.

“My main job is to look after national interests, whether it be UK citizens themselves or the UK economy, which currently needs all the help it can get. We try to help UK businesses here. These come in all shapes and sizes, from an individual selling his services as a consultant to the other extreme such as Tesco, which has well over a 1,000 stores in Thailand, or Boots with 200. For example Triumph make most of their motorbikes here,” he said

Asked about Thai investors in the UK he had this to say: “The single biggest investment into the UK last year, from any country in the world, was from Thailand.

Sahaviriya Steel invested in the closed Teeside steel plant, saving and creating over 1,500 jobs. Right now there is a trade deficit between Britain and Thailand. Thailand outsells Britain by over a billion pounds a year. This one deal alone will equalize that as we will have steel from Teeside coming to Thailand at a value of a billion pounds a year from now on.”

As for the future, HE Ahmad says the big challenge for mature economies like those in the UK and America is to be able to participate in Asia’s growth.

“Future growth will not just come from India and China, which we always seem to mention, but also from the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN). The UK already sells more to the ASEAN community than India and China put together. That doesn’t mean we should be happy about that; it means we should sell more to China and India. The opening up of ASEAN however is a great opportunity for us to sell everything from food processing technology to pharmaceuticals.”

On the subject of the recent graduates’ prospects in the UK he had this to say: “As I told the students here today, one gift they now have is the English language – this is the language of Asia and the World. Many students here have the advantage of being able to speak more than one language and this is a huge advantage for them. Around 6,000 Thai students currently study in the UK and students from International schools like this one [BIS] need no conversion when they arrive in the UK as they already speak the global language.”

London Olympics to give Thai food exports a boost

A Thai trade official has projected that the value of food exports to the United Kingdom (UK) this year will exceed US$ 1.2 billion (38 billion baht), as the Summer Olympic Games in London boost demand and economic growth despite financial turmoil in Europe.

“Although the financial crunch in the European Union has had an impact on Thailand’s exports, demand for Thai products in the UK market, particularly foods, has not been affected as Britons have good consumer sentiment ahead of the Olympic Games,” said Chulit Stavorn, executive director of the Thai Trade Center in London.

Chulit said export of Thai foods to the UK had increased gradually each year, from US$675mn (21.4bn baht) in 2007 to US$938mn (29.7bn baht) in 2010.

Last year, exports of Thai food products to the UK were worth US$ 1.1bn. Major export products were processed chicken, worth US$ 555mn (17.6bn baht), followed by canned seafoods, frozen shrimp, rice, noodles, processed foods and fresh and canned fruits.

Chulit said the EU’s cancellation of its import ban on fresh chicken from Thailand in July would also boost the Kingdom’s poultry exports to the UK and EU markets. He expects that Thai chicken exports to the UK should increase by US$ 400mn (12.7bn baht) this year.

Chulit also expects that the plan of CP Foods, Thailand’s leading food producer, to take over Birds Eye, a giant British fish-finger producer, will boost trading opportunities for Thai products in the UK if the bid is successful.

The deal is not yet finalized, as more than three firms are interested in taking over Birds Eye.

— Marc Mulloy / The Nation

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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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