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Phuket Business: There’s cash in that trash

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Business: There’s cash in that trash | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Sustainability is perhaps the most overused buzz word at present. Increasingly over the past several years, stake holders in the tourism and hospitality sectors have added momentum to the dialogue about saving the environment through the implementation of ‘green practices’.

When it comes down to actually taking action and making all of the necessary investments, however, few have delivered.

Beyond changing a few light bulbs and installing energy saving switch timers, there is still so much more that can be done if not for the sake of reducing overheads and thus increasing profitability, then certainly for embracing the true essence of sustainability.

During a recent interview with the Phuket Gazette, Martin Hauke, a composting specialist based in Phuket, said that waste management is one of the most overlooked factors in the effort to achieve environmental sustainability. Overlooked not only by local residents and government officials, but by business operators too.

“It just baffles me when I see people burning a pile of leaves in their yard. This material can be separated and composted or just used as a mulch around shrubs and trees, and has so many more benefits. Instead, it is wasted, much to the dismay of the environment.”

Martin, a German national, is the inventor of the Mobile Aerated Floor, or MAF, an innovative and efficient composting system that has been utilized in a number of commercial scale projects across the globe.

“When compared to conventional composting, the MAF System is up to 30 % more efficient in terms of speed and requires only a third of the area and much less energy. And of course, the setup does not have to be fixed to one space,” he says.

Having fallen in love with Phuket over the last decade, Martin decided to establish his German company’s assembly base in Thalang.

“Currently, we only export our system’s components to overseas clients. These include mostly large scale, commercial projects in Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia, among others.”

Although, business volume and demand is sufficient on the global market, Martin says he is keen to penetrate the local market in the near future.

“We are currently designing prototypes for small and medium scale projects on and off Phuket. One of our main targets will be hotels and resorts, and especially properties that are remote and off the grid.

“The fact is that it is still cheaper up front for businesses [on the grid] to throw away or burn their waste, whereas it is difficult for them to quantify the returns from recycling and composting.

“These returns aren’t always immediate, and one of our biggest challenges is to inform and demonstrate to individuals and businesses, that there are more practical and responsible solutions to waste management.”

Martin said that, in addition to residents and businesses, he is also pursuing a dialogue with the local government.

“We are looking to support initiatives that improve Phuket’s sustainability as a whole. One burning issue that affects everyone is in regards to the two incinerators. As I understand it, they are now operating close to capacity…

“With our waste management background, knowledge and resources, we have the ability and will to help improve the situation by advising on the separation, collection, transportation and processing of organics, for starters…

Something has to be done so (that) we can preserve this beautiful island for the next generation.”

For inquiries, Martin can be contacted by email at: hetasia@csloxinfo.com.

— Steven Layne

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

Business

Vietjet CEO, dreams to transform the world

The Thaiger

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Vietjet CEO, dreams to transform the world | The Thaiger
VietJet CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao: “It is not technology that transforms the world but the human’s dreams; technology is merely a means, and it is created from the dreams of the people.”

“Start-ups shouldn’t ‘save on’ dreams but rather dream big and realise them by simple acts each day at your business or organisation.”

Meet the tour-de-force behind the establishment of VietJet, one of the region’s most successful aviation start ups.

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Any first-timers meeting Vietnam’s only self-made female billionaire Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao will be taken aback by the opposites she harbours. A petite woman with a bright smile always on her face, Nguyen will talk in her soft voice about her business motto… once you dream, dare to dream big.

‘Dream big and realise them’

Nguyen has been popular in the business since her young days studying abroad. Her hard work has paid off when she became a millionaire at the age of 21 – not a usual dream for a college student. But Nguyen is different. She strives to be the pioneer of everything she does by bravely conquering all challenges.

Upon returning to Vietnam, Nguyen has quickly made her appearance widely noticed by her successful investments in the finance-banking and aviation sectors. She is now the CEO of Vietjet Air and the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of HDBank.

To many young Vietnamese start-ups, Nguyen is the big inspiration and a role model for them to follow.

“Start-ups shouldn’t ‘save on’ dreams but rather dream big and realise them by simple acts each day at your business or organisation. We ourselves have turned the impossible into possible and made our dream come true. Millions for the first time have been able to fly and I’m extremely happy to learn that they are not only Vietnamese but people from other countries who have boarded a Vietjet flight for the first time.”

The billionaire’s motto has also inspired her own employees at Vietjet and HDBank to keep their dreams alive despite all adversities. Regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impacts on the economy, the staff at Vietjet and HDBank are confident of their company’s new business strategy and solutions to overcome the pandemic.

Nguyen even envisions Vietnamese enterprises leading and creating a global sentiment by developing them into multinational, multicultural companies and integrating the most cutting-edge technologies.

“We need to be the pioneer of the digitalisation and automation trend in the industrial revolution 4.0 – the key factors for growth.”

Her message is realised at Vietjet as the airline has recruited nearly 6,000 employees coming from 50 countries and territories on its way to revolutionise the aviation sector of Vietnam, the region and the world. HDBank, meanwhile, has particularly grown by more than 20 times in the last decade after 30 years of relentless innovation since establishment.

‘An inspirer of kindness’

Recognised as a successful businesswoman, Nguyen though never thought of making money the ultimate goal of business. The values her company can create, especially for the sake of the community, is what truly matters to her. Nguyen also highly regards business ethics, stressing that “honesty will guide us to do the good things for the society”.

Nguyen has initiated the “Wings of Love” program to grant scholarships and gifts to children at orphanages and poor families, as well as to give winter clothes to children in remote regions.

“I understand more about the responsibility of the company and that of each of us to the community every time being on a charity trip and realise how brilliant the idea of our CEO, Mrs Thao, is. We all call her an inspirer of kindness,” a Vietjet employee said.

In addition to the “Wings of Love” program, HDBank has also supported the national chess sport via the HDBank Cup International Chess Tournament for the last 10 years, preparing the ground for the internationally famous chess players like Quang Liem and Truong Son. The bank has also organised the HDBank Futsal with a long-term goal of improving the physical health of young Vietnamese.

Despite unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic, Vietjet and HDBank are still committed to charity activities. The airline has helped to bring hundreds of thousands of passengers back to their home countries like South Korea, Japan and China, while operating hundreds of repatriation flights during the pandemic. It also gave 2.5 million of face masks to the people in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States. Vietjet’s aircrafts have transported thousands of tons of medical equipment and essential goods to the people under social distancing as well as urgently delivered relief cargo to the flooded Central region.

The female billionaire and her employees have cooked and distributed more than 100,000 meals to disadvantaged people like motorbike taxi drivers or street lottery sellers. HDBank has launched special credit packages in support of those who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, while granting 1,000 premium hospital beds to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health and another thousands of health insurance passes to the people.

The popular magazine Tatler has honoured Nguyen as one of the 110 Asian figures in philanthropic activities due to her lasting acts of kindness through years.

Vietjet CEO, dreams to transform the world | News by The Thaiger

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Business

Slow return of foreign tourism makes more redundancies inevitable – Airlines Association of Thailand

Maya Taylor

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Slow return of foreign tourism makes more redundancies inevitable – Airlines Association of Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The president of the Airlines Association of Thailand says further layoffs in the sector are inevitable, due to the slow return of international tourism. In a Bangkok Post report, Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth says the sluggish revival of foreign tourism, now not expected until the last quarter of the year, means all carriers continue to face financial hardship. And while there was a surge in the domestic market during the last quarter of 2020, the return of the virus in late December brought demand to a grinding halt.

“We suffered a tremendous domestic impact during the second wave, and it will take months to climb back to its peak again. While re-opening for international markets will likely occur with few countries that have bilateral agreements with Thailand first, as health safety is a big issue for local communities.”

Significant layoffs have already happened over the course of the pandemic, with staff numbers at 7 carriers under the AAT umbrella now standing at 16,000, down from between 25,000 and 30,000, prior to Covid-19. Bangkok Airways has cut 20% of its workforce and only has 30% of its fleet in operation. Puttipong, who is also the airline’s president, says it transported just 300 passengers a day during the month of January. Peak passenger numbers prior to the pandemic were around the 5,000 mark. Covid-19 has also led to the demise of low-cost carrier Nok Scoot, which went out of business in June 2020.

Puttipong predicts that Thailand’s aviation sector could take 4 years to get back to anything like the 40 million foreign arrivals of 2019. He says all carriers will need to look at cost-saving initiatives as the only means of long-term survival. Thai Air Asia is one of 7 airline members of the AAT calling for a 14 billion baht soft loan. The carrier has been pushing the government to re-open, warning that Thailand risks losing its status as an international hub.

The Bangkok Post reports that the AAT plans to submit 3 requests to state agencies this week. They are calling for the vaccination programme to be extended to airline workers as a matter of priority, for the rapid introduction of a vaccine passport policy, and for the Transport Ministry to prepare the necessary regulations for international flights.

Puttipong has welcomed the recent decision to reduce quarantine for vaccinated arrivals, pointing out that the 14-day quarantine was the most significant hurdle preventing the return of foreign tourists.

“It’s quite impossible for tourists and business travellers to take 14-day quarantines before and after trips. They might have money to spend, but they don’t have the luxury of time to be kept in isolation for almost a month.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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