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Malaysian PM in a fight for his political life

Tim Newton

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Malaysian PM in a fight for his political life | The Thaiger

Just south of Thailand there is a looming political showdown that is likely to reshape Malaysian politics, no matter what happens at Wednesday’s polls.

It’s the country’s 14 election since independence.

On one side a politically-stained, long-sitting incumbent trying to cling onto power. On the other side an opposition led my the incumbent’s former mentor – the 92 year old Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s former PM.

By numbers, current PM Najib Razak should win, but a reinvigorated opposition led by the former PM is mounting a strong challenge in polls leading up to the election this week.

Even if Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition wins, a drop in the party’s majority would likely see an immediate challenge to his leadership. After asking for solidarity within his party’s ranks over the the IMDB scandal there would be little latitude for sympathy if the people didn’t back the current PM in the polls.

1Malaysia Development Bhd (IMDB) was set up by PM Najib in 2009. The program was meant to turn KL into south east asia’s newest financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments in digital and infrastructure projects.

But it started to attract negative attention three years ago after it missed payments for some of the $11 billion it owed to banks and bondholders.

The Wall Street Journal then reported it had seen a paper trail that allegedly traced close to $700m from the fund to Mr Najib’s personal bank accounts.

Mr Najib has denied the claims and his party has continued to back the bruised leader. A loss of seats for his party would be a disaster for the PM, his party already hanging on by a tiny majority. An electoral loss would be even more devastating and would surely spell the end of his career as Prime Minister, leader of BN and most likely curtail any future as a politician.

With the stench of IMDB still hanging in the air and a resurgent opposition smelling blood, the poll is turning out to be a referendum on Najib’s integrity as a leader, financial administrator and a man who can lead Malaysian into the future.

Five years ago, he and BN performed poorly. While his coalition stumbled across the finish line – a thin parliamentary majority it needed to form a government – it garnered only about 47% of the vote. Before then the coalition had won every election since Malaysia gained independence in 1957.

On the other side an unlikely contender, a 92 year old former strongman who was the Malaysian PM for 22 years. He retired in 2003. He’s now become the front man for an opposition he spent most of his years as PM vilifying – sworn enemies enduring countless legal battles. Not the least is Anwar Ibrahim, the deputy prime minister Mahathir once imprisoned for corruption and sodomy. Now they’re the political odd-couple trying to oust the standing PM.

The defacto opposition leader Anwar has given his support for Mahathir to stand as the prime ministerial candidate for the opposition, with Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah as Mahathir’s running mate. Anwar remains unable to contest because he is once again serving a prison term for sodomy.

Strange times indeed for the young south east nation that continues to struggle to find its feet amid its ongoing political turmoil and the creep of national religious ferver forcing politicians to shape policy around the country’s majority Islamic interests.

Malays go tot he polls this Wednesday.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,200 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Instagram and Facebook.

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Business

Thailand’s sponsorship market grew 19% – 2018

The Thaiger

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Thailand’s sponsorship market grew 19% – 2018 | The Thaiger

ASN (Asia Sponsorship News) has just released its Sponsorship Market Overview for Thailand 2018. Local agencies have had their say on the performance of the Southeast Asian sponsorship marketplace.

2018 was a robust year for Thailand’s Sponsorship market, growing 19% year-on-year to US$223.4 million (2017’s total investment was US$188.2 million) and making grounds on reaching its previous (outlier) market peak of US$247.8 million in 2015. Since 2015, the market had been creeping backwards to a recent low of US$187.2 million.

General market health -in GDP terms – for Thailand was generally positive. In November last year, the country forecast a slightly reduced GDP forecast in the mid-4% range for itself for the year.

Back to the Sponsorship market and the leading spending brands are as follows; the Top 10 includes the usual major players, but also some newcomers since ASN last analysed the market in 2016…

2018 (US$)
Toyota  11,749,000
Chang  10,347,050
PTT Petroleum  7,372,000
Singha  6,935,525
PTT Group  5,573,000
Tourism Authority of Thailand  5,532,000
Thai Beverage Plc  5,173,050
Adidas  5,075,000
Pepsi  5,065,000
Carabao  4,389,000

These 10 brands contributed almost 30% of the total investment in this Southeast Asian market.

In terms of the movers and shakers within the Top 10, versus 2016…

  • Toyota was 4th spending US$6.8 million
  • Chang was 1st with US$14.4 million
  • AIA was 2nd, Its dramatic fall caused by the cessation of its Thai Umbrella Football Club partnership, with the FAT, in 2017
  • Carabao and Adidas are newcomers for 2018

Then there are the broader market dynamics that moved the needle – across the various ways to slice ASN’s market data:

  • Platforms: Motorsports and Multi-sports outperformed (+98% and +103% respectively); while platform leaders Football (US$90 million in 2018) and Athletics (US$32 million) gained a healthy 23% and 15% respectively
  • Categories: Two of the Top 10 categories – Petrochemicals and Conglomerates – dipped into their budgets significantly in 2018 (+119% and +590% (!) respectively)
  • Genres*: Unsurprisingly, Content was the biggest mover with a 114% uplift. Events, the perennial Genre leader, gained 33% as well

Commenting on the market movements is eponymous Founder of Paul Poole (South East Asia) Company,  a marketing consultancy specialising in commercial sponsorship in Thailand says, “The 19% year-on-year increase in Sponsorship spending in 2018 is testament to a strong industry.”

“To see big brands and organisations such as AIA, King Power, Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), Honda and Siam Cement Group falling off the list is somewhat of a surprise given their visibility in the marketplace and their sponsorship history.”

“However, it is refreshing to see new additions to the list such as Adidas. It speaks of a dynamic and ever-changing market.”

“Sponsorships have the potential to reach beyond short-term sales to build a brand’s identity. Brand strength contributes 60 to 80% to overall sales, making this benefit critical for sustained, long-term sales growth.”

Poole is convinced consistency is key to building brand awareness and companies like Toyota and Adidas are good examples of companies pushing through content on all platforms, especially social media.

Since brand ambassadors are now typically anyone sharing content – especially online via video content – brands are getting leverage from the increasing use of social media platforms across the world. And Thailand is one of the most gluttonous consumers of online content!

So the Thai market is in good health: let’s see if 2019 can sustain the growth.

To read more of the report click HERE.

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Thailand

Chinese tourists spend big during Chinese New Year holiday

The Thaiger

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Chinese tourists spend big during Chinese New Year holiday | The Thaiger

Spending by Chinese tourists during the Chinese New Year holiday around the world was the highest in Thailand.

Alipay, a leading digital payment platform offered by Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba Group has done the sums. The transactions were recorded between February 4-10, and data drawn from the 54 international markets where Alipay is accepted.

The number of transactions in Thailand ranked second worldwide after Hong Kong, and topped the list in Southeast Asia with an average spending of 1,646 yuan (7,650 baht).

The high spending was put down to convenience stores and duty-free shops accepting Alipay and offering special promotions for Alipay users.

King Power Duty Free recorded a 50 per cent increase in transactions thanks to discounts for Alipay users, while transactions at convenience stores also rose by 38 per cent due to their “Alipay corner”.

Chinese visitors are also now able to get tax refunds at 7-Eleven branches in the capital.

Chinese spenders, although spending less time per holiday, spend more per person, per day than other tourist demographics entering the country.

Read a previous story about tourist spending patterns HERE.

Chinese tourists spend big during Chinese New Year holiday | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Chronically ill man jumps to his death from Bangkok apartment

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Chronically ill man jumps to his death from Bangkok apartment | The Thaiger

by The Nation

A 66 year old man who lived alone and suffered from chronic ailments has been found dead outside a 15 floor apartment building in Bangkok’s Bang Sue district.

It is believed he committed suicide by jumping from the rooftop this morning.

Taopoon police were alerted at 11am that Charn Wanngern died after he fell to the ground in front of the entrance to Building A of Taopoon Mansion.

Police found a suicide note in the man’s room on the 15th floor. No foul play is suspected in the man’s death.

The note also had the mobile phone number of his close friend. Police called him and learned from the friend that Charn used to own a cabaret troupe in Silom and he recently fell and had been suffering from chronic aliments since.

Charn needed to see a doctor regularly and the friend had to take him to his hospital as he lived alone. The friend said he had a schedule to take Charn to see his doctor this Friday.

Police said Charn’s room was on the west side but he fell from the east side of the building so he likely went up to the roof and jumped down.

SOURCE: The Nation

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