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Jack Ma opens the door to Thailand’s markets

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Jack Ma opens the door to Thailand’s markets | The Thaiger

To the people sitting in the audience it looked like Jack Ma had pulled off a piece of modern day wizardry, selling 80,000 Thai durians in 60 seconds. Gone in 60 seconds indeed!

His much publicised visit to Thailand and meetings with the Thai PM and other ministers, signing of MOUs and various media appearances have drawn awe as well as a large chunk of cynicism over his motives to invest 11 billion baht through his e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Remember Alibaba, the character in the story, discovered the secret password to the cave of the forty thieves. The e-commerce giant Alibaba, and his T Mall, is slowly opening the doors of nations, one by one, by offering them golden coins in exchange for access to their trade markets.

(What was the ‘password’ to open the cave in the story Alibaba and the forty thieves? Read on…)

Critics say it remains unclear whether Thai durian growers and other farmers will gain from Alibaba’s bigger presence in Thailand.

Chotichai Bua-dit, president of the Rayong fruit orchard operators’ club, said it was good news that Thai durian growers had received many advance orders due to the advent of Alibiba, which already owns Lazada, the No 1 e-commerce site in Thailand. However, he is not sure whether durian and other farm prices will be depressed by these giant online platforms in the future due to their monopolistic power.

Jack Ma opens the door to Thailand's markets | News by The Thaiger

Suwit Saeng-arkard, the leader of another Rayong durian growers’ group, said Thai durian growers should benefit from Alibaba’s bigger presence as they will have more opportunities to sell their output, especially via online platforms.

Pramote Ruamsuk, adviser of the Eastern Provinces’ Chamber of Commerce, said he is not sure whether Thai farmers would gain more from Alibaba since there have been many Chinese businessmen setting up operations in Thailand to buy durians directly from farmers for online sales.

Somchai Ngamvannagul, a durian grower, said the wholesale price of Monthong durians had risen to 100 baht per kilogram from 70 baht earlier this month, but the supply is expected to be less than last year’s, so prices will probably be strong. On Alibaba’s presence in Thailand, he said any benefits in the short term should be minimal for Thai durian growers due to this year’s expected lower supply.

Dr Nipon Poapongsakorn, a distinguished fellow at Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) and expert on the agriculture sector, said e-commerce platforms in general were good for Thai farmers since there are no middlemen to take profits. Regarding Alibaba’s bigger presence in Thailand, he said that Alibaba’s Tmall online marketplace has a solid reputation in protecting the interests of buyers, since it will not pay the sellers if their products are not satisfactory. However, he said Thailand is not well-prepared to take advantage of online platforms and other features of the digital economy due to the shortage of qualified personnel and lack of inter-ministerial policy coordination. For example, there is a shortage of people with skills in big data, analytics, artificial intelligence and other areas crucial to develop the digital economy.

Jack Ma came to Bangkok last week and with 11 billion baht of gold coins has uttered the magic word ‘Open Sesame’ to open the cave door to countless more billions that will flow through his e-commerce Alibaba’s bank accounts in China. There’s no doubt segments of the Thai agricultural business will also benefit but let’s not be under any allusion that Jack Ma is a businessman first and a philanthropist second.

SOURCES: The Nation, The Thaiger

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World

The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote

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The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote | The Thaiger

Call it Super Saturday, call it Deal or No Deal, call it the most important day in recent UK history. Today (Saturday) the UK House of Commons will gather on a Saturday, the first time for decades. Golf games have been postponed, polo sticks will have to gather dust and the cleaner’s been told to come back on Sunday.

Earlier this week, British PM Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the EU. The EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, after months of saying that Theresa May’s deal could not be changed. Moreover, the EU leaders seem happy with the deal and have been waxing lyrical about the scruffy British PM they all dreaded negotiating with.

But it’s not going to be easy. Some PMs have already tabled amendments that could make Johnson’s run of success fall short of a finish line. Opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or schedule a second referendum.

So how is the crucial, and historic vote, going to roll?

It’s far too close to call. PM Johnson doesn’t have a majority in Parliament and his Northern Irish allies, the DUP, who he needed to pass legislation, have already said that they won’t back the new plan. Meanwhile, his opposition MPs are lining up to criticise the deal. And there’s serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party will vote against the deal too.

Bottomline, if MPs don’t vote for this deal then they can’t be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 pm on Saturday night. Last month, opposition MPs passed legislation that binds the British to this commitment. Mr. Johnson says he will comply with the law but reminds his opponents that this decision relies on the EU still having to unanimously agree to it.

But, if the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalise on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you’d think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it’s approved, then we get into the nasty election where both sides will tear each other apart, adding more to a polarised community that may take decades to recover from this folly.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

Has it all been worth it?

Anyway, bring on Super Saturday as the deliberations continue.

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Thailand

Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December

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Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December | The Thaiger

The point deduction system, for traffic and road infringements, is tentatively scheduled for activation for motorists and motorcyclists in mid-December. It is hoped that the system will help reduce road fatalities and injuries on Thai roads.

The deputy commander of Highways Police Command says that every licensed driver will be given an allocation of 12 points. Each time the driver commits a traffic law violation, points will be deducted. When there are no points left, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, after which the driver or motorcyclist will have to undergo training administered by the Land Transport Department to get their licence back, and another 12 points.

Those who don’t attend the training, however, will have their licence returned after 90 days, but with only 8 points.

Points to be deducted differ, depending on the offence. Offences are divided into four categories:

• One point deduction

Using a cell-phone while driving; exceeding the speed limit; not wearing crash helmets for motorcyclists; not wearing seat belts; not giving way to emergency vehicles, riding on the sidewalk and not stopping for pedestrians on zebra crossings.

• Two points deduction

Running a red light; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; driving while his/her license is suspended and drunk driving.

• Three points deduction

Organising or promoting street racing without permission; hit-and run; driving while under the influence of narcotics; driving while under the influence of alcohol exceeding 150mg per ml.

• Four points deduction

Driving under the influence of alcohol exceeding 200mg per ml, drunk driving in a way which may cause serious injuries or death to the other people; driving in a manner disregarding the safety of the other people or causing trouble to other people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Pattaya

The body of an unidentified foreigner found floating south of Pattaya

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The body of an unidentified foreigner found floating south of Pattaya | The Thaiger

A fisherman has recovered a body, thought to be a foreigner, from the Gulf of Thailand off Sattahip.

Na Jomtien Police were notified of the body by 24 year old Teerapong Boonwat, a fishing boat captain plying the waters around Sattahip, south of Pattaya.

Mr. Boonwat had recovered the body found floating near Koh Ped (Duck Island), about three nautical miles from the Sattahip shore. Police and emergency responders rushed to the scene near Amparam Temple.

Police report that the male body appears to be a foreigner aged around 40 years old with a beard and little head hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt, long jeans and black sneakers.

No identification was found on the man. It is believed that he had died at least 7 days before his body was found floating in the water. The police didn’t state if there was any signs of foul play or the condition of the body.

Police are investigating the incident and reviewing missing person reports to establish identification.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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