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Phuket Finance: An expat’s guide to the inevitable

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Finance: An expat’s guide to the inevitable | The Thaiger

PHUKET: It’s natural to experience culture shock as an expat, but the real shock comes when expats consider just how complicated proper investment or financial planning becomes after they expatriate from their home countries.

Here are some of the key areas expats will need to have a plan for and likely consult with knowledgeable experts about.

EXCHANGE RATE AND REMITTANCE

Expats whose income is largely fixed and denominated in a currency different from that used in the country in which they are living need to have a plan for dealing with exchange rate fluctuations as well as transactional costs of having their money remitted to them.

In the worst case scenario, where the exchange rate makes a big and sustained movement not in the expats’ favor, they may have to plan on making major cutbacks in living expenses or even return home.

INFLATION

For most expats in Phuket, their home country has low inflation and low interest rates.
However, emerging markets such as Thailand tend to have much higher rates of inflation that their incomes or investment returns will need to keep pace with.
Expats must keep this in mind while considering the risk of their investments, as high returns can often mean higher risk of losses.

EMERGENCIES

Expats need to tie up cash in a much bigger emergency cash fund than most would otherwise need back home.

This emergency cash fund should be large enough to cover things such as medical emergencies, where cash may be needed to pay upfront or to cover repatriation to the home country should the expat need to return home.

Expats also need to keep in mind and plan for the likelihood that various social welfare entitlements, such as unemployment compensation or disability, from the home country probably won’t cover them while living abroad.

They may even need to re-establish residency back home in order to qualify.

TAX

Expats from countries that enforce worldwide taxation, such as the United States, or require their nationals to maintain a residence in the home country, could face double taxation – unless there is a tax treaty in place.

Such expats need to consult a tax expert to find out which taxes they and their investments could be liable for, as investing in various offshore investments marketed to expats as a way to lower taxes may actually not make sense.

EDUCATION

Expats with children will need to have a plan for how to pay for their children’s education costs, including international school fees and possibly even for university.

Even if the employer is currently footing the bill for most international school fees, such parents better have a backup plan in the event they don’t always have an employer willing to do so in the future.

HEALTH CARE

The older expats get, the harder and more expensive it is for them to get good expat health insurance coverage, and the home country’s retirement health care scheme will likely not cover them while abroad.

They may need to plan on returning home after a certain age or if their health deteriorates to a certain level.

RETIREMENT

Expats working abroad might be paying into their adopted country’s government sponsored retirement program and still be eligible for a pension back home if there is an appropriate tax treaty.

If not, they will need to plan on saving and investing a considerable amount of extra money for retirement.

DEATH

No one likes to talk about the inevitable, but planning for the inevitable becomes much more complicated if assets or family members need to be provided for. This includes those in both the expat’s adopted country and back in their home country.

If the expat’s financial and family situation is complicated, he or she had better find an expert
lawyer in estate planning back home and in the country where he or she is currently living.

At the very least, they should make sure they have a written will and appropriate power of attorney documents kept in a safe place.

Don Freeman is president of Freeman Capital Management, an independent US-registered investment advisor. He has over 20 years’ experience and provides personal financial planning and wealth management to expatriates living in Phuket, and specializes in UK and US pension transfers. Call 089-970-5795 or email: freemancapital@gmail.com.

— Don Freeman

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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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