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Bitcoin ban in Thailand

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Bitcoin ban in Thailand | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Bitcoin is only one among hundreds of its kind, collectively known as cryptographic protocol currencies or cryptocurrencies, which are only a small part of all digital currencies. More than 90% of almost every single currency in the world today is digital. Still, cryptocurrencies are unique while having only existed for four years, the total value of Bitcoins alone surpasses the GDP of many countries.

All cryptocurrencies transactions are handled by encrypted servers known as miners. The miners are also given the opportunity to earn freshly created blocks of coins for their work by the design of the system. This in itself is a very profitable endeavor; a person who sets up a miner could see a return on investment in as little as two months or less.

Bitcoins make it possible for people who don’t know each other to do business together. You can access your Bitcoins at any time and from any place in the world and use them to pay for anything… and no one else will be able to know what you’re doing. This effectively makes taxation impossible, and unless you actively give up your Bitcoin information, there is almost no way for anyone to know how much money you have.

Today there are bars in New York where you can pay for drinks in cryptocurrencies, grocery stores in California that accept them, fashion houses in Italy, tour groups in Japan and South Korea, hotels in France, and even NGOs in Thailand that have been accepting donations to help those in need. This is but a small part of the literally hundreds of thousands of services which are offered right now. Every day tens of thousands of transactions occur worth millions. Bitcoin is the largest growing market in the world right now and there is a very good chance this will become the preferred method of payment in the coming years.

Yet, in one single act, all Thai citizens, and anyone who ever comes to Thailand is now being told that if you come here, you will be put in prison simply because of the method of payment you use. No other country on the planet has done what Thailand just did and, if the announcement becomes law, it will be impossible for anyone in Thailand to buy or sell Bitcoins, buy or sell any goods or services in exchange for Bitcoin and to send or receive Bitcoins to and from anyone located outside of Thailand. As a result, Thailand will lose millions if not billions of baht in potential revenue in this year alone.

What of the miners handling transactions? They are receiving Bitcoins, but not from real people – they come from a computer equation. What of those who have Bitcoins? Does this mean that any Thai citizen who currently has Bitcoins is now unable to get rid of the currency, and if they do they face the possibility of jail time? If so this is guilt by association.

But most of all, what of the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies? Are all of them going to be banned as well? Is it going to be a game of cat and mouse banning every single currency as it becomes big enough to be noticed? Or is there going to be a vague and blanketing law banning all digital currency? No matter how you go about this, the prohibition does not work except to inflate prices and to make criminals out of people who were not so before.

If the law does not respect the choices of the individual to decide what form of currency to use, why would individuals, or companies, do business in Thailand? As cryptocurrencies become more widespread, why would anyone choose to do business in Thailand, when anywhere else in the world you can go about business as usual?

Ultimately, this gesture is utterly meaningless and unenforceable. A scofflaw only needs to switch to a different cryptocurrency, and their activities are legal again. Due to the way the cryptocurrencies are created, you can still use them and unless you willingly give up the information, there is no way for the authorities to know or enforce this ruling.

In this act, Thailand has signaled its wishes to shut itself off from not only a growing market and another source of revenue and growth, but also from a very possible future economic system. As a result, Thai people may never be at the forefront of innovations in this sector.

New technology can be scary, the power it gives, the way it redefines our world. It gives new opportunity to those who use it. Innovators and independent thinkers should not be turned into criminals by the stroke of a well-meaning but uninformed pen.

This ban should be lifted so that honest citizens are not treated as criminals, and as a gesture to the millions in the cryptocurrency community to return to Thailand with their business. I suggest BOT put together a work-group to study the economic benefit of cryptocurrencies to Thailand.

Finally, a request to the Board of the Bank of Thailand: please do not shut yourself out of what may well become the largest economic growth in the history of this planet.

Editor’s Note: Until Bitcoin transactions are traceable and thus taxable, the ban will likely remain in place. In fact, for this reason, other governments may also consider a ban.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Business

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thai Life

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers

The Thaiger

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Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Daily News

The answers are in the banana leaves.

Thai people LOVE playing the lottery (and gambling generally). In fact they’re BANANAS about the twice-monthly lottery (it was drawn again today). Daily News has reported about two unusual banana trees growing in front of a shop in Klong 4 Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. The trees did not have blossom and on one plant two bananas were pointing skywards. On another there was a whole bunch pointing up into the sky.

There was a steady stream of the faithful lighting incense, praying and rubbing powder on the trees to get lottery numbers. One group thought ‘542’ was the magic numbers and a path to riches (we’re not sure how they came to this conclusion). 53 year old Surachai says the trees had been growing for a few months and that he’d never seen anything like it before.

An unnamed agricultural expert suggested that there was probably something wrong with the banana plants. Trees and malformed animals are a favourite source of inspiration to select numbers for the lottery, as are numbers of houses and vehicles involved in events where people experience “miracle” escapes from danger, or even bizarre accidents.

SOURCE: Daily News

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | News by The Thaiger Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | News by The Thaiger

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Entertainment

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival

The Thaiger

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The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | The Thaiger

On the streets, in parks and garages, seven Cuban youngsters spent seven months practising K-pop moves to secure a spot on their dream stage: an appearance in South Korea to imitate their idols. 13 final teams from 80 countries are competing in the 2019 event.

At the grandly titled and government-funded Changwon K-pop World Festival contestants from around the globe perform imitation dances or sing cover versions of the genre’s biggest hits, with thousands of fans cheering them on.

In terms of global heft, South Korea is overshadowed by its much larger neighbours China and Japan, but the event is a way for Seoul to derive soft power from one of the country’s biggest cultural exports. In terms of pop-power, South Korea’s K-Pop is now a recognised world-wide music phenomenon with bands like BTS and Blackpink figuring amongst the other big-hitters on the Billboard charts and outselling their western counterparts with millions of albums and downloads.

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

Finalists for this year

Cuba’s Communist government is one of North Korea’s few remaining allies: when President Miguel Diaz-Canel, successor to the Castro brothers Fidel and Raul, visited Pyongyang last November he was only the third foreign head of state to do so since leader Kim Jong Un inherited power in 2011.

But rather than geopolitics, Havana performer Karel Rodriguez Diaz – whose mannerisms and sleek hairstyle could easily be mistaken for those of a K-pop star – is more motivated by high-tempo beats and superslick dance moves.

“We never had a place with a mirror or a choreographer who could teach us the steps” but they kept on practising, he said.

His team-mate Elio Gonzalez added: “We are so excited to represent not just Cuba but also the whole of Latin America.”

Some 6,400 teams from more than 80 countries entered the competition, according to organisers, with 13 groups from places as diverse as Kuwait and Madagascar winning through to the final in Changwon, where they appeared on stage waving their national flags.

“This is like watching the Olympics, a K-pop Olympics,” said the event’s host Lia, a member of K-pop group ITZY.

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

The Korean Wave

K-pop – along with K-drama soap operas – has been one of South Korea’s most successful cultural exports to date. A key part of the “Korean Wave” which has swept Asia and beyond in the last 20 years, the K-pop industry is now estimated to be worth $5 billion, with boyband BTS its latest high-profile exponent, becoming the world’s most successful band in the past 12 months, selling out stadium concerts within minutes, around the world.

The South Korean government has financed a variety of K-pop themed events in what CedarBough Saeji, a visiting professor at Indiana University Bloomington in the US, said was a form of long-term “soft power diplomacy”.

“When you are covering you get to ‘become’ those idols for the three and a half minutes of the song,” she said, adding that performers will go so far as matching their clothing, accessories and hairstyle to their heroes and heroines.

“The cover dancers of today will be diplomats, news reporters, and business leaders in forty years,” she went on.

“And hopefully they’ll still have a soft spot in their heart for Korea. Korea can’t win the world through hard power – armies, economic bullying – but with soft power even a small country like Korea has a chance.”

The music also provides an artistic alternative for overseas fans, especially those in developing countries, Saeji added.

“The West, especially the United States, has been so dominant culturally for so long, and having a different cultural pole to look to provides hope that one’s own country can experience similar success in the future.”

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

Be who you want

Beneath its glitz and glamour, the K-pop industry is also known for its cutthroat competition, a lack of privacy, online bullying and relentless public pressure to maintain a wholesome image at all times and at any cost.

Sulli, a popular K-pop star and former child actress who had long been the target of abusive online comments was found dead on Monday, with her death sending shockwaves through fans around the world.

“I think a day where (people) would be ashamed of the K-show business will surely come,” a South Korean online user wrote in the wake of the star’s death.

“I think an industry that makes money by (making people) sing, dance, undergo plastic surgeries and go on a diet to please the gaze of others since they are teenagers should really go bankcrupt.”

But for Kenny Pham, a finalist from the US at last week’s contest, K-pop’s diversity – with some tunes having dark themes, while others were “cute” or sensual – is what gives him a sense of liberation.

“I like how expressive you could be,” the 19 year old told AFP last week.

“I feel like it’s a place where you could show the passion you have for music, dance or fashion. No one is bashing you for what your likes are.”

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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