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Phuket Finance: Exploring the theory of Peak Oil

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Finance: Exploring the theory of Peak Oil | The Thaiger

PHUKET: I read a fascinating report recently from a Harvard researcher that shatters the common view of how quickly oil is becoming a scarce resource. It essentially states that – given new technology – the idea of “Peak Oil” is fundamentally flawed.

Peak Oil is a theory that at a certain point in history (approaching very quickly), humans will reach the peak amount of oil production capabilities, and from that point on, oil will become scarcer while demand will continue to grow. Obviously this would be a huge conundrum for humanity, yet this theory ignores increases in our technological capabilities, especially in going after the hard-to-get oil.

I am not qualified to give an opinion on whether this report is correct or incorrect, but since I also recently read another article about some chaps in the UK who have apparently successfully created gasoline out of thin air, it really got me thinking.

Again, I have no idea if this is something that will be successful commercially, or rolled out on a large enough scale to affect global macro-economic dynamics. However, it is very interesting food for thought.

If you look at most academic econometric models of the world economy, you will find the price of oil is always weighted very, very strongly. An econometric model is basically an attempt to quantify a country or the entire world’s economic activity into a mathematical equation or function. While obviously it could be argued that even the Gods working together would have trouble with this task, the models are generally very useful in understanding relationships between the variables that help or hinder economic growth.

What I find most fascinating, is the general prospect that a game changing “rock bottom price of energy” could happen in our lifetime. It may not necessarily even be oil, but perhaps a substitute energy source, which could be developed, stored, distributed and incorporated into the various factors of production at a price drastically cheaper than today.

Just consider the mind boggling rate of change in technological capabilities over the last 20 years.

Looking forward 20 years, it is hard to know what the world will be like. Plug a price close to zero for energy into one of those models I mentioned earlier and the stage would be set for a global boom.

Obviously I don’t think any of this is going to happen tomorrow, but the current economic slump will not go on forever and there will be another period like the late nineties’ boom.

Just like the ‘tulip boom’, and every other preceding one in history, up to the most recent property bubbles, those who can see the writing on the wall early enough have often made their fortunes long before the general public hops on at the very end, just in time for the bust part of the cycle.

I am not sure what the next catalyst for a boom will be, but I am always trying to think ahead. One thing I am very skeptical of, where energy is concerned, is that the major players, with their vast oil reserves, would not likely allow for any circumstances to come about that would decrease the value of their oil stocks.

Collectively, they have enormous power and influence, and are widely believed to buy up and shelve any patents for potentially competitive technologies. So, there is a definite reason not to be too optimistic about super cheap energy coming around soon, but, I think the commonly accepted pessimistic view that we are on the verge of an energy crisis may not be grounded in reality either.

David Mayes MBA, lives in Phuket and provides wealth management services to expats around the globe, focusing on 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.

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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