Connect with us

Business

Ruler of the rubber world

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

Ruler of the rubber world | The Thaiger

PHUKET: It started way back in the 16th century when an explorer saw tribal people in Mexico playing games with balls made out of a soft, bouncy material. It took another couple hundred years before anyone actually sat down and took a long, scientifically inquisitive look at what that material was. And its first practical use came in the form of… an eraser.

Since then, chemists have found different ways to process latex and rubber and whether we realize it or not, we are surrounded by products which contain this naturally occurring material. In Thailand, we are not only surrounded by products, we are in the rubber production capital of the world.

“For the rubber industry in Thailand, it pretty much all started in the southern area… it started in the Hat Yai, Songkhla and the Yala area,” said Marketing Assistant of Von Bundit Co, Ltd Michael Ong.

With their main offices located just north of the heart of Phuket Town, family-owned Von Bundit Co, Ltd plays a serious role in the production of rubber for the global market. In fact, after getting into the rubber processing industry in 1987, they now operate the largest processing plant on the planet, located in Surat Thani.

As the largest exporter of raw rubber in Thailand, Von Bundit’s five factories churned out 550,000 metric tons last year, or 15 per cent of Thailand’s total export. Nearly half of that came out of their behemoth Punpin factory in Surat Thani.

“This factory, we actually took over from Euro Siam. Euro Siam was the Thailand-French company. At that time [they produced] only 2,000 tons per month,” said Executive Director Tanawat Phankosol.

Von Bundit Co, Ltd acquired their Punpin factory from Euro Siam Co, Ltd in 1994. Since Von Bundit assumed control of the factory, they have been able to ramp up production capacity to a massive 38,000 metric tons per month.

Surprisingly, considering Von Bundit’s scale of operations, they don’t own a single rubber tree. Instead, some rubber tree plantations are operated as small holdings while others are independent family-owned tracts. About 1 million families in Thailand are involved with rubber production which accounts for four per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The way the system works is that intermediaries – what they call second-dealers in the business – source the latex or rubber (latex comes from the tree and rubber is processed from latex), make an initial assessment of quality, sell the liquid latex directly to the factories, and stockpile the rubber and sell it to the factories when the price is right.

image

The factories consider a spectrum of variables to come up with the current market price, which at the time of writing was about 63.5 baht per kilo.

When asked why they don’t control the entire production process, Mr Ong replied, “For us, we don’t want everything. The profit is there, but we do want the community to share [in the profits].”

Because the rubber tree plantations are fairly small and there are thousands dotted across the landscape, Von Bundit buys their material from several hundred second-dealers.

In turn, Von Bundit sells to a global market of around 450 customers that range from tire factories to trading houses (companies which manage import-export and purchase and sell goods for another company) that supply various other industries.

“Usually the traders that we sell to, in turn, sell back to the tire manufacturers,” explained Mr Ong. He claimed that an estimated 80 per cent of their material found its way to tire manufacturers with Bridgestone being their largest client.

Rubber plantations and processing factories such as Von Bundit plan for a seasonal lull in production during the wintering period from March through June when the deciduous trees lose their leaves. While typically peak rubber production occurs between November and February, this year the industry suffered from the worst drought in 30 years.

“We expected to be able to tap the latex since June, but as of now we don’t see as much latex coming to the market – I would say now about 70 per cent of what we had expected,” said Executive Director Bundit Kerdvongbundit.

Last year, rubber farmers took to the streets in protest and demanded that the then current Prime Minister Shinawatra’s administration double the existing subsidy. The farmers succeeded, only to see the subsidy abandoned shortly thereafter due to excessive cost and market distortion.

The protests followed a 2012 plan, similar to the rice pledging scheme, which saw the Thai government purchase and stockpile more than 200,000 metric tons of rubber in a failed attempt to raise market prices.

“Government stockpiles [of rubber] can be helpful or harmful depending on the way it is being treated. If we treat the stocks as dead stock that must be sold off, then it is harmful. But if we treat this as strategic stock, where there is proper management, then it will be helpful,” explains Mr Bundit.

“Our target is to reach [production of] 1 million tons by 2016 and it should account for about 20 per cent of the total export [from Thailand].”

Currently, the only competition to natural latex and rubber is a chemical version synthesized from crude oil. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, more than 70 per cent of all rubber that hits the market today is synthetic.

Following a report that Thai exports in all sectors, except rubber and sugar, were up 2.6 per cent last month, the NCPO announced that it is allocating over 6 billion baht to be distributed to registered rubber farmers to help offset their losses.

— Jeremie Schatz

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Published

on

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

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

Continue Reading

Central Thailand

Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers

Maya Taylor

Published

on

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

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

Continue Reading

Business

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

The Thaiger

Published

on

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.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

Continue Reading
Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4 | The Thaiger
Thailand3 days ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO | The Thaiger
Tourism4 days ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | The Thaiger
Phuket5 days ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO | The Thaiger
Tourism2 weeks ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO | The Thaiger
Tourism2 weeks ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 month ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Follow The Thaiger by email:

Trending