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Impact of investment crash “too early to tell’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Impact of investment crash “too early to tell’ | Thaiger

PHUKET: While the stock market took the brunt of the “Black Tuesday” sell-off triggered by the capital controls put in place to stem speculation against the rising Thai baht, experts say that it is still too early to gauge the long-term impact on Phuket’s property market.

Although the 30% withholding requirement on foreign capital inflows was quickly rescinded for certain transactions, including direct foreign investment and stock market transactions, at the time of going to press the rule still applied to other forms of foreign investment, including property funds.

The draconian measures, adopted by the Bank of Thailand (BOT) on December 18, initially affected all capital inflows of US$20,000 (about 70,000 baht) or greater.

Foreigners were required to make a 30% withholding deposit with the BOT. Where it still applies, the measure effectively freezes up investment capital without earning interest for at least one year, after which time the depositor can apply for a refund.

Phummisak Hongsyok, Phuket’s representative to the National Legislative Assembly, told the Gazette that the BOT’s methods were strong but effective in stemming the baht’s rise against the American currency. He agreed with the BOT’s decision to relax the measure for stock market investment, saying it was too strict.

The long-term fallout on direct investment and the real estate market can be assessed only after January 4, when the holiday period has ended and further BOT adjustments may be announced, he added.

The currency control measures were the second government announcement to have a major impact on foreign investment in the property sector this year. The first was a Ministry of Interior order issued last May instructing provincial governors to crack down on foreigners using Thais as “nominees” to set up real estate investment firms, he noted.

Investor confidence would improve if the BOT had issued an advance statement of how the currency control measures were intended to affect foreign property investment, he said.

“The government has to make a clear-cut decision as to what extent they want to open up Phuket, and Thailand, to foreigners wishing to stay and invest here. This would include revising visa regulations to support long-stay tourism as well as currency controls,” he said.

Neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Vietnam, had already adopted measures to promote long-stay tourism, he added.

Graham Bibby, Managing Director of the Richmond Group and also an experienced currency analyst, views the BOT’s latest actions as misdirected.

“The whole problem is not about the Thai baht going up. It’s about the US dollar going down. The BOT is focusing on the wrong thing … The BOT needs to educate its exporters. They worry about the exporters, but in most countries exporters know how to hedge the the currency – to lock in the currency rate…This is not a Thai baht problem, it is a US dollar problem. In my view, the Thai baht is going to go to 30 to the US dollar in the next six to eight months,” he predicted.

“For property investment, in some respects it is not so bad. The only problem is that it was on the front page of every newspaper, which portrays Thailand in a negative way.

“What I have been telling clients is that this proves my point that Thailand is too international now. In the old days, 15 or 20 years ago, they could do this. But now they can’t do this even if they want to because the international community will not accept it,” he said.

He agreed with K. Phummisak that the government should consider relaxing its stance on foreign ownership of property, perhaps by allowing foreigners to own one property freehold or by introducing some sort of “perpetual lease”.

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 infections cast doubt on plan to reopen Phuket July 1

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Phuket may not be ready to welcome back visitors July 1st.

With surging Covid-19 infections, the original plan for Phuket to reopen the international border to tourism on July 1st without quarantine may be unlikely. The governor warned today that the plan may be in jeopardy if they don’t reach the proposed May 15 goal of reducing infections to less than 10 each day. Governor Narong Woonciew called on everyone to work together to keep the infections down as the current rate of 10 to 15 per day will almost definitely delay the sandbox plan for international visitors to arrive in Phuket without quarantine in July.

Daily infections are on the rise in Phuket and high-risk people in local quarantine are still spreading infections, according to the provincial health officer’s assessment of the Covid-19 situation. During proactive screening an active case finding, new clusters of infections continue to be uncovered, a problem that has been attributed to continued partying and social gatherings that violate current Covid-19 restrictions. The health officials warned that, as a result, more aggressive actions may be necessary to control the spread of the Coronavirus in Phuket if it is to reopen in July.

Under the current restrictions of the Covid-19 emergency decree, even two people that aren’t from the same household joining together for socializing or mingling could be considered a gathering and punishable with legal action. Officials are speaking out about the threat of more Covid-19 outbreaks due to large gatherings, citing several events that were broken up recently.

One such group in Phuket garnered a lot of attention online with many people surprised that it was considered a gathering and busted up. A group of six British and Thai people that the police raided yesterday at a home in Thalang were reportedly drinking and celebrating. This is a violation of the disease decree and local Covid-19 safety measures, and 2 British nationals were charged a 6000 baht fine each.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Patong

30 year old Thai woman found dead in car in Patong from apparent suicide

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Photo via The Phuket News

A 30 year old Thai woman has been found dead in her car, in Patong, from an apparent suicide. The woman’s car was parked by the side of the Sirirat Road, which links Patong and Karon. Police and rescue workers arrived at the scene to find the body of Kanokwan Chuenaka, slumped backwards in the driver’s seat of a Phuket-registered gray Honda Jazz vehicle.

Police say they found an electric pan with burnt charcoal behind the driver’s seat in the back. They say this was the cause of death as she likely died from asphyxiation. They also say they found a suicide letter, written in 2 different parts with a pen and pencil.

The heartbreaking note in blue pen said:

“To dad and mum, please forgive me, your daughter. Ney [Kanokwan’s nickname] has hurt dad and mum many times. Please take care of Pokpong [Kanokwan’s son]. Love him. Don’t let Pokpong feel bad for not having his mum beside him. Don’t waste your money holding a funeral for me. Think of Pokpong often.”

In pencil, the note went on to say:

“Nobody loves Ney. I thought getting married would bring me happiness like other people. I have not even had a family trip, like dad, mum, and son.”

Kanokwan’s mother Boonlap Chuenaka says that she has accepted her daughter’s death to be from suicide. Her body was taken to Patong Hospital for further examination as a standard protocol before police can release it to her relatives for a funeral.

It is not known whether the Covid pandemic had any effect on Kanokwan, but notably, the pandemic has caused increased hardship and mental health issues for many in Thailand. Job losses, bankruptcies, sickness and fear are just a few of the side-affects felt by the Covid-19 pandemic. For many in Thailand and all over the world, this has a profound impact on the mental health of everyday people. The suicide rate in Thailand has also seen a spike, with 22% more suicides recorded in the first half of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. A sharp increase not witnessed since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

Even before the pandemic struck, Thailand was on record as having the most suicides of any country in SE Asia. As per WHO data, in 2019 Thailand’s suicide rate was 14.4 per 100k population, compared to a global average of 10.5 per 100k population.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand at their 24-hour hotline 02-713-6791 (English), 02713-6793 (Thai) or Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

British citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal ‘party’ in Phuket

Tim Newton

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An unedited video circulating, showing Phuket police raiding an illegal gathering in Cherngtalay, ended up with 2 UK citizens, working in Phuket, being fined 6,000 baht each. The Cherngtalay police are also calling on another 4 foreigners attending the party to present themselves to the police station to be charged as well.

Cherngtalay Police descended on the property around 5pm on Sunday following a tip-off from residents in the same street.

The video shows the police at the front gate of the property demanding entry… “Open, open, open the door… now!” The people inside the gate shouted back “no party”. The policeman leading the raid was Capt Prasan Ketsaro. Despite a number of other foreigners, and Thais, at the gathering, only the 2 British people attending the event were fined after being taken to the station.

British citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal 'party' in Phuket | News by ThaigerThey were officially charged with “acting against the Communicable Diseases Act, BE 2558 and the Phuket Provincial Order #2284/2564 Section 5,” according to the police report.

At the end of April the Phuket governor made an announcement, tightening restrictions for the island province.

“For social activities, all people must refrain gathering for celebration, such as birthday parties, welcome or farewell parties, or others, except traditional events, such as funerals, weddings, or ordination.”

At the time the vice governor of Phuket said that foreigners breaking the rule could also be subject to being deported. Foreign consular officials were also invited to the provincial offices with Governor asking them to ensure the citizens they represented would abide by the current rules and restrictions.

The video of what appears to be an afternoon soirée, complete with alcoholic drinks and a barbecue, was deemed by the attending police to be in clear contravention of the current restrictions, a point that the lead police officer, doing all the talking, kept making as he beckoned everyone inside the house to come out.

“Everybody, outside. Come one, come on, outside!”

None of the foreigners were wearing face masks in the early phases of the video although the Thai people inside the property either were, or were quick to put them on as the cameras were rolling.

The police kept berating and accusing the people inside the property… “you come for party”. They pointed to a pile of iced drinks on the verandah of the property (which contained wine, beer and other beverages)… “what is this, what is this?”

Any conversation was a bit one-sided with the Captain doing most of the talking whilst the owners of the property, and their guests, were at least trying to explain their situation.

The accusations were flying thick and fast “Why party?! You party!”

The foreigners insisted it wasn’t a party and were trying to reason with the police about the intentions of the afternoon’s gathering but the police had already made up their mind.

The lead police told the accused that they could take photos of the ‘raid’. The Thaiger has decided not to air the video but have shared some edited screenshots.

British citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal 'party' in Phuket | News by ThaigerBritish citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal 'party' in Phuket | News by ThaigerBritish citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal 'party' in Phuket | News by Thaiger

A lot of the social media commentary about the incident has focussed on whether the gathering was a “party” or not and accusations that the attending police were just after some tea money.

“The high crimes and misdemeanours of having drinks and a BBQ in your garden “

“What party? Even the mosque in Bang Tao is packed everyday, local Thai restaurants are packed – this it outrageous.”

“Pretty strange…. a good way to make money.”

“What a country this place is turning into.”

“The video is on all the Thai news site… and it not look like a party at all.”

The names of the people involved in the raid have been published in other media.

 

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