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Travel agency suspected of breaching FBA with nominee

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Travel agency suspected of breaching FBA with nominee
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A Bangkok travel firm is suspected of breaching the Foreign Business Act by having a Thai nominee to hold a majority share in the company, according to the Business Development Department.

Pongpun Gearaviriyapun, director-general of the department, said the tour agency was suspected of having Chinese principals, while employing a Thai to hold a majority share to get around the law.

She said that in cooperation with the Department of Special Investigation, her agency investigated 15 suspect firms, one of which is highly likely to have breached the FBA. Pongpun’s department is preparing to file that case with the DSI for a more in-depth probe.

The Business Development Department has asked the company’s shareholders to speak to the agency’s legal officers. The department will also be questioning the company’s directors and examining their documentation. If any have committed offences, their cases will be forwarded to state agencies for prosecution.

If found to be breaching the FBA, foreigners and Thai nominees could be subject to fines of Bt100,000 to Bt1 million and/or three years in prison.

In cooperation with the Tourism Ministry, the Commerce Ministry’s Business Development Department this year is closely scrutinising the travel industry, and not just in Bangkok. It is also concentrating on Pattaya, Phuket, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai.

Although it is stringently overseeing companies’ share structure, the department will relax some regulations, unlocking some businesses such as banking and insurance from the FBA’s Annex III.

Under the Foreign Business Act of 1999, Thailand does not allow foreign interests to hold more than 50 per cent of some types of businesses, such as telecommunications, rice milling, property development, media and tourism services. However, some foreigners have used Thai nationals as nominees to run such businesses.

The businesses listed in Appendix III of the FBA cover those in which Thais are not yet ready to compete with foreigners. Businesses protected for Thais include those in the retail and wholesale sectors.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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

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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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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

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.

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 companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

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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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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