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Weeding out hype in Phuket’s health-conscious market

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Weeding out hype in Phuket’s health-conscious market | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Health and environment are two buzzwords that are being heard a lot nowadays across the globe and Phuket is no exception.

Health-conscious segments of local markets continue to grow and an increasing number of producers are looking to exploit this consumer base. What was once a niche market has turned into an ‘eco green everything’ fad.

Indeed, many consumers, producers and suppliers, will struggle to explain the difference between ‘organic’ and ‘chemical-free’, among other things.

In an exclusive interview with the Phuket Gazette, Martin H.J. Smetsers, Managing Director of Pura Organic Foods Limited, shed some light on the topic.

“The Thai government is trying to stimulate organic farming but unfortunately, clarity is still a major issue,” said Martin, whose company is a leading organic food distributor in Phuket and southern Thailand,

“The term ‘chemical-free’ cannot be compared to organic farming as chemicals are used from the time of seeding until a short period before harvest, when the use stops. The chemicals and pesticides used ‘disappear’ during this final period. However, since chemicals were used for 90 % of the growth period, such produce is subject to damage and other alterations in taste, color, shape, size and nutritional value,” he explained.

“I’ve seen a study that states that non-organic food has lost 50 per cent of its nutritional values over the last 50 years and in order to get the same nutritional value that our grandparents did 50 years ago we must eat twice as much today. With Organic produce this is less the case,” he added.

From its base in Thalang, Martin explained that Pura Organic supplies a wide array of fresh and truly organic produce to hotels, resorts and restaurants in Phuket and the southern region.

With a focus on high-quality organic produce, it distributes vegetables such as kale, green long beans, red long beans, Chinese radish, lettuce, pak choy, all kinds of lettuce, wild rocket, regular rocket and winged peas; herbs, including four different kinds of basils and coriander; and fruits such as papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, longan and mangosteen; in addition to organic dairy products such as milk (cow, buffalo and goat) and cheese, eggs and chicken.

“In total, Pura now carries over 800 organic products. One of our main local suppliers is the Thanyamundra Organic Farm in Surat Thani, next to Khao Sok National Park,” Martin said, noting that the organic farm is certified under the Agricultural Certification of Thailand (ACT) standard.

“This particular farm is on a 60 rai parcel of land located about two hours north of Phuket, and is attached to the 10-rai Thanyamundra Organic Resort which was recently chosen by Agoda as one of Asia’s Top 10 Eco-Boutiques,” he said.

“As our associate, the farm sells us their entire harvest, which we then distribute throughout the south, mostly in Phuket,” he explained.

While the company sources a lot of its fresh produce locally, its entire supply network comprises a total of 40 sources nationwide including those in Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Mae Hong Son provinces, Mr Smetsers added.

“Pura has had some problems due to a logistic issue caused by the recent flooding, but since our main product lines are fresh produce, most of this is flown directly into Phuket from all over Thailand,” he said.

Martin went on to explain that while official certification and reputation is important, it cannot be relied on unconditionally.

“We initially believe and trust our organic sources, but try to make it a point to personally visit their production and distribution facilities to see if they meet Pura’s quality requirements,” he said.

“Over the past 14 months, we have taken some products with certified organic sources off our list simply because after visiting the farm we didn’t feel comfortable with the quality and standard observed,” he added.

“On the other hand we feel very proud to carry products from non- certified sources who have shown us comfortable levels of organic correctness. Pura Organic Foods Ltd is very willing to help the small farmer who makes an effort to be organic and whose efforts are often pressured by unfair trade practices,” he added.

Martin himself has been eating organic food for over 20 years and said he has not had to take a single day off for sick leave.

Pura Organic will soon open its new shop and office, for more information , see W: puraorganic.org

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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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