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Phuket Lifestyle: Sansiri high on list of corporate Thailand’s good guys

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Lifestyle: Sansiri high on list of corporate Thailand’s good guys | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: All profitable and respectable organizations will eventually need to consider giving back to the communities from which their financial prosperity derives.

Implementing meaningful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one effective way for firms to initiate positive social changes and enrich the corporate-communal landscape for the greater good of business and society.

With so many pressing issues in society, deciding which are the most deserving of hard-earned corporate capital is difficult.

But for Sansiri Plc, one of Thailand’s leading premium property developers, and no stranger to Phuket, CSR is a no-brainer.

Speaking exclusively with the Phuket Gazette last week at Sansiri’s headquarters in central Bangkok, President Srettha Thavisin said that children are at the top of the firm’s CSR agenda, or what Sansiri calls “Social Change”.

Sansiri’s Social Change is a new approach to CSR which emphasizes the full commitment of a business organization in planning and implementing CSR programs in an inclusive, long-term and sustainable way.

The president, also the firm’s Social Change spokesperson, said that Sansiri this year has earmarked 60 million baht (approx US$ 2 million) to maintain and further develop its Social Change programs nationwide.

“We administer half of this in house, and the other half (US$ 1 million) is donated to our Social Change partner, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as part of a three-year Memorandum of Understanding,” he said.

Mr Srettha said that the company is looking to expand its Social Change portfolio with projects in Phuket which could break ground as early as the end of this year.

“This depends mostly on our sales volume. We are still monitoring the Phuket market and planning to launch several more development projects there later this year. We will wait until we have a sufficient client base.

“Our Social Change initiatives are conducted at both the national policy and local grassroots levels, he said.

As for prospective Social Change projects in Phuket, Sansiri is looking to establish one of its free football academies.

An avid soccer fan himself, Srettha said: “It’s important that whoever initiates CSR also has a personal interest, otherwise it’s meaningless.

“I am a personal friend of FC Consultant Paitoon ‘Ko Men’ Chutimakornkul, and follow Phuket football developments,” he said.

The company has established five football academies in Bangkok, the first which was set up in 2006

“When we open a new one, we will publicize the opening so that our clients are aware. However, participation is not strictly limited to our clients and many of the kids are underprivileged from low income families. It’s on a first come, first served basis,” he said.

“All academies are free and we provide all the equipment and gear for the kids who attend regularly, but we realize that there are organizations that make good business by running sports academies. It is not our intention to clash with them since we are doing this as a part of our Social Change initiatives, CSR,” he added.

To avoid clashing with those businesses, the company sets a different schedule.

“Sports academy businesses tend to run later in the day, so we open in the early morning instead. Most rich kids prefer not to wake up early,” he said.

Another service of its academies is providing employment to former national squad players as staff and coaches.

“After serving the country for the national team, not all of these players end up becoming coaches or sports writers with prosperous careers.

“Often, they don’t end up doing well and some even end up on the street.

Giving them an opportunity to make a little income is another small way of helping those who have contributed to the country,” Mr Srettha explained.

The last-but-not-least of Sansiri’s Social Change pillars is education.

Mr Srettha explained that there are about 750,000 school aged children in Thailand who are not in school.

One of the main obstructions is that a lot of these kids lack the proper birth registration documents, and thus cannot access free schooling.

“If the child was born in Thailand, then they have the right to be educated here. The government cannot and should not deny them this right.

“If these kids don’t have documents from birth and don’t get educated, they will end up becoming a social burden somewhere down the road.

“We want the Phuket Governor to be tough on child labor,” he said, adding that Sansiri is also working with the Ministry of Interior to advise on policy.

“If kids can get the proper birth registration documents, they will be able to access free schooling. It should be automatic,” he said.

This is not the first time Sansiri has taken the lead to influence government policy.

Its “Iodine Please” campaign actively raised awareness about the correlation between low IQs and Iodine deficiency disorders in Thai children.

Implemented together with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health from 2009, the campaign resulted in the Abhisit-led government passing a Universal Salt Iodization regulation in January 2011.

For its part, Sansiri was awarded ‘Best CSR Practice’ across Southeast Asia in 2011 by the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards.

Asked about the key element of Sansiri’s successful Social Change program, Mr Srettha said: “It’s important that you align yourself with the right organizations. We’ve partnered with UNICEF because it is one of the most transparent organizations.

“We have no control over what they do with the money that we donate to them, but we trust their judgment, and they advise us on issues, likewise,” he said.

— Steven Layne

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

World

Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies – May the force be with him

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Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies – May the force be with him | The Thaiger

“…his swish with the black cape and his screen presence in the foreboding, shiny black high-tech exoskeleton won him a legion of fans.”

Darth Vader has died… May the force be with him. The man who played the bad guy in the first Star Wars trilogy, British actor David Prowse, died at the age of 85 after a short illness.

American actor Mark Hamill, who played Darth Vader’s son, Luke Skywalker, alongside with David and the initial cast of the epic saga, sent his condolences in a tweet.

“So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader.”

“Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP”

Star Wars co-star, and fellow Brit, Anthony Daniels, who played the gold-plated and effusive C3PO in all but one of the 12 Star Wars instalments, paid tribute to Prowse’s contribution to the saga.

“Dave’s iconic figure dominated the finished film in ’77 and has done so ever since.”

David wore the ominous black suit and helmet to play the Star Wars villain Darth Vader although it was the American actor James Earl Jones who provided the character’s voice in post-production. George Lucas felt that David’s West Country English accent was “unsuitable for the part”. The decision to replace David’s voice caused a long-term rift between actor and director that eventually saw David cut out of official Star Wars publicity events. But his swish with the black cape and his screen presence in the foreboding shiny black high-tech exoskeleton won him a legion of fans.

Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies - May the force be with him | News by The Thaiger

David’s career as an actor spanned 50 years, but it was his role as the Sith Lord in Star Wars that brought him international fame and attention.

But it was his role as the “Green Cross Code Man” from a British road safety campaign that Prowse said he was most proud of. David was awarded an MBE, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in 2000 for that role.

David Prowse was born into a working class family and grew up in a council estate in Southmead, in southwestern England. He gained a scholarship to attend Bristol Grammar School. He had a passion for bodybuilding and was crowned British Weightlifting Champion several times in the 1960s. He became lifelong friends with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger in his weightlifting years.

His towering figure helped land him roles as monsters and villains in TV shows and films. He played the monster in “The Horror of Frankenstein” in 1970 and a bearded torturer in “Carry on Henry” in 1971. That same year he made an appearance as a bodyguard in Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian film “A Clockwork Orange” in 1971. He went on to play Darth Vader in all three of the original “Star Wars” films, in 1977, 1980 and 1983.

With the success of Star Wars, Prowse became a regular on the fan circuit and attended conventions around the world for almost 40 years, but he was rumoured to have later fallen out with director Lucas and was banned from official events in 2010.

He published an autobiography, “Straight from the Force’s Mouth,” in 2011.

SOURCES: Reuters | CNN | BBC

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Chiang Rai

Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia

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Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The entrance to the real Tham Luang cave near the Myanmar border in far north Thailand

The Australian Government is putting up A$13 million to Imagine Entertainment and film giant MGM to shoot a live-action feature film called Thirteen Lives, based on the Chiang Rai Tham Luang cave rescue story. The film will be shot in Queensland, Australia in the hinterland areas behind the Gold Coast.

The film will be directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vince Code, Cocoon, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Splash, Frost/Nixon), and start filming in March 2021. The state’s Gold Coast hinterland will double for Thailand with a similar hot, humid climate.

The Australian Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, says the production should inject more than A$96 million into the Australian economy, “directly creating around 435 jobs for cast and crew”.

Thirteen Lives will tell the remarkable story of the effort by many volunteers, including Australians, to undertake an incredibly complex rescue. And I am proud to say that this story will be told here in Australia.”

“I understand this project will also undertake a significant amount of cutting-edge visual effects work here, a great opportunity for our local post, digital and visual effects companies.”

Thirteen Lives follows the true story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding in Chiang Rai, far north Thailand. After the team was stuck for days with no supplies and falling oxygen levels, a group of diving and rescue experts from all over the world were called up to work together with their Thai counterparts to save the 13 young men. Among those experts were a group of divers from the United Kingdom and Australia.

The first major feature film about the rescue operation was The Cave, released in October 2019. The film was quite critical of the Thai red-tape which hampered much of the early rescue efforts.

Ron Howard has worked with plenty of Australians in the past.

“From Thirteen Lives to the animated projected I am directing with Animal Logic in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected.”

Imagine Entertainment and MGM’s Thirteen Lives will be distributed by Universal Pictures International.

Watch a message from director Ron Howard HERE.

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Thailand

Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break

The Thaiger

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Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break | The Thaiger

Phuket’s sea gypsy communities are getting a much needed break after the Covid tourism standstill have their traditions a break from the tourism onslaught. 42 year old Sanan Changham says now there is an abundance of fish and shellfish to eat. Tourist boats have been docked at the quay, making fishing easier for the Chao Lay, or “people of the sea.“

“We don’t dive as deep as before, so it’s less dangerous.“

More than 9 million visitors came to Phuket in 2019, impacting the sea gypsies and their way of life, mostly located at the southern end of the island. The booming tourism brought a decline in fish stocks, decreasing fishing grounds and loud construction of hotels. And the traffic. Such hotels signal an even bigger threat to the 1,200 Chao Lay in Rawai, as property developers have tried to evict them from their ancestral strip of land that faces the sea.

Ngim Damrongkaset, a Rawai community representative, says he hopes the area where developers have taken a stake is abandoned.

“They want to drive us out of our homes, but also to deny us access to the sea.”

For the Chao Lay people, the fight to keep their land has been unequal as most are illiterate and were unaware of the fact that they could register their land, but the government is trying to help them. One way for authorities to buy the land and entrust it to them.

Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, says the government must seize the opportunity provided by the pandemic to rethink their vision on Chao Lay.

“Covid is an opportunity to change mentalities. Mass tourism in Phuket has been a catastrophe for the sea gypsies.“

The land in Rawai was originally claimed by Indonesian ancestors of Sanan, before the island became flooded with international travellers. But since tourism has become more profitable, authorities have cracked down on the sea gypsies unless they are sailing in protected marine reserves.

“Before, we risked being arrested by a patrol or having our boats confiscated.“

For the animist Chao Lay the beach is a vital space where they keep their colourful wooden boats and where they pray and give thanks to their ancestors. But not only their unique cultural heritage has helped them navigate the waters.

The Chao Lay people are experts at detecting any abnormalities in the water, as such they were able to escape before the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hit, while saving loads of tourists. Furthermore, Children of the Moken have 50% better visual acuity in the water than their European counterparts, according to a 2003 study.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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