It’s all about the experience

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Thailand November 28, 2018 14:00

By The Nation

The research revealed that 79 per cent of Thai travellers attempt to be sensible spenders by making a budget in advance, though more than half (58 per cent) don’t stick to it and end up spending more than they first intended to. The research also reveals how Thai travellers will prioritise their travel budget in the year to come.

Travellers will increasingly splurge on experiences in 2019. More than half (55 per cent) plan to spend more on experiences, entertainment and attractions in 2019 when compared to 2018, and 68 per cent of Thais revealed that they value experiences more than material possessions, a trend that is set to continue with activities, entertainment and attractions the top areas on which Thai travellers intend to spend in 2019.

Contrary to popular belief, this trend is not just reserved for millennials either; there is only a small difference in the age breakdown (68 per cent for 35-44 year olds, 74 per cent for those aged 45 plus). In 2019, experiences will go truly mainstream.

So how to free the budget for all these experiences? Booking.com research suggests that Thai travellers are willing to make some sacrifices. Three quarters (76 per cent) say they will travel as cost effectively as possible in 2019 so they can fit in more trips and experiences than in 2018. For example, over half (58 per cent) say they are willing to skip tourist highlights if they deem them too expensive.

This also points to another trend that will impact travel budgets in 2019; tourism authorities will increasingly try to entice travellers to visit during the off-season or to venture outside the most popular tourist areas. The research suggests that most Thai travellers are very open to this idea, declaring willingness to stay in accommodation outside the centre (57 per cent), travelling during off-peak season (62 per cent), and sharing their travel plans with tourism authorities to get tailored recommendations (63 per cent). Going off the beaten track will provide a great opportunity for travellers and tourism authorities alike, and in 2019 more and more travellers will seize it.

The research was commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who have taken a trip in the last 12 months/plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. In total 21,500 respondents were polled (including 1,000 each from Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, China, Brazil, India, US, UK, Russia, Indonesia, Colombia and South Korea; and 500 each from Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Croatia, Taiwan, Mexico, Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore and Israel). Respondents completed an online survey between August 10 to August 30.

Source : The Nation Multimedia

Going against the trend

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Nation Graphics/Karnjana Lao

politics December 01, 2018 01:00

By Karnjana Lao
Nation Graphics

Going AGAINST THE TREND Educated citizens are more likely to believe that living in a democracy is important. In most countries, people with higher education hold stronger beliefs about the importance of democracy. But the opposite is true in Thailand and some other nations.

Source : The Nation Multimedia

Reliable voting TECHNOLOGY

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Voting booths of the Democrat during the party caucus at the Miracle Grand Hotel.

politics December 01, 2018 01:00

By JINTANA PANYAARVUDH,
KAS CHANWANPEN
THE NATION WEEKEND

Amid mistrust in picking a leader, the Democrat Party pioneers blockchain technology for Thai politics

DISTRUST AMONG candidates led the Democrat Party to opt for blockchain technology last month when it was choosing its new leader. It was the first time digital technology had been utilised in Thai politics.

More than 120,000 votes were cast using the Thai-developed Zcoin blockchain during the November 1-9 vote.

Zcoin is an open-source, decentralised private cryptocurrency system featuring anonymity for its users with data stored on the blockchain.

Poramin Insom, founder and lead developer of Zcoin, helped Democrats tap the potential of this new technology, which also offers greater transparency and other benefits.

According to Poramin, candidates for the party’s leadership and its internal election commission were concerned about how to store the voting data securely, fearing there could be fraud and unfairness in the election.

Storage of data on blockchain prevents unauthorised changes, since any alteration requires a consensus among majority stakeholders.

Though Zcoin blockchain ensures voters’ anonymity, the party chose an option that allowed results to be cross-checked, Poramin told The Nation Weekend.

It was Thailand’s first large-scale electronic voting with two sets of data involved: identification documents and vote tallies, he explained.

The data were encrypted and stored on an IPFS (InterPlanetary File System), a decentralised and distributed file-storage system.

The IPFS hashes were then stored on the Zcoin blockchain, which acted as a decentralised immutable database that could be audited by the party’s election commission and its three leadership candidates.

The voting data could only be decrypted if all five groups involved – three representatives of each candidate, the election commission and the Democrat Party itself – were present and in agreement.

It was a tight race for the two top candidates, former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his challenger Warong Dechgitvigrom, with Abhisit winning 67,505 votes and Warong close behind with 57,689 votes.

“The unique circumstances of this election made Zcoin’s blockchain a good fit to record votes and sets the stage for future deployment of e-voting systems in the country,” Poramin said.

However, he said, preparations for the use of blockchain should have been made much earlier in order to ensure a smoother process. After all, technical errors would have prompted sceptics to suspect cheating and would have given the new technology a bad name.

In his view, Thailand has the potential to utilise this technology in a national election and it would be possible to do so in the next few years with growing demand from voters and candidates.

He said election organisers could develop electronic-voting machines and use blockchain to store the data.

“I believe we’ve achieved a huge milestone in our country’s political history and hope other political parties or even governments, not just in Thailand but elsewhere in the region, can look to using blockchain technology in enabling large scale e-voting,” Poramin said.

Meanwhile, new political players such as the Moderate Party and Future Forward Party are also keen to use new technology.

Moderate Party founder Chumphon Krootkaew said party members use computers and smartphones as their main communication tools.

“So most of the time, we are working online. We discuss and hold meetings on the Internet,” Chumphon said. “Everyone can basically work from home. And this saves us so much time and money because we don’t need a bricks-and-mortar office.”

The party stores membership data and other documents mainly in soft files, he said. Although sometimes some of the data have to be collected traditionally in paper form, they are recorded digitally afterwards, he explained.

Though the Moderate Party has yet to obtain legal standing, Chumphon said that once it is officially registered, it will launch a website and make it a hub for administrative work and communication.

The Future Forward Party relies extensively on cloud computing in its operations.

Party registrar Klaikong Vaidhyakarn said administrative affairs, internal communication and emails, as well as the donation system, are all connected through its official website, futureforwardparty.org. Party members work and coordinate via the website, and even the decision-making process within the party is done online.

About 40 per cent of the members also use this system to vote for branch leaders and executives, Klaikong said.

The system is trustworthy, with a verification protocol that matches the standards of online banking applications.

Like the Moderate Party, Klaikong said his party allowed members and staff to work online.

This allowed better participation as well as flexibility since they don’t have to be at the office and could work anywhere, he added.

 

Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Democrats seek court ruling to halt school share trading

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national November 30, 2018 01:00

By WICHIT CHAITRONG
THE NATION

THE DEMOCRAT Party has filed a petition with the Central Administrative Court, calling for the Thai stock market regulator to suspend the trading of shares of an international school.

Shares of Singapore International School of Bangkok (SISB) started trading on the Stock Exchange of Thailand yesterday, but Juti Krairiksh, the party’s secretary-general, said the green light for SISB to trade runs counter to the government’s objectives in granting tax breaks and other privileges to private schools.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should therefore be ordered to suspend the trading of SISB’s shares, which closed at Bt4.36 after an initial public offering of 260 million shares at a price of Bt5.2 per share.

SISB is the first private school stock to be traded on the Thai market. Under Thai regulations, privately owned schools are exempt from income and other taxes as a means to encourage the private sector to open schools and expand educational services. However, Juti said in the court petition that companies listed on the stock market seek maximum profits and so should not be exempted from income and other taxes.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has proposed that the government levy income and other taxes on privately owned schools if their shares are listed.

In a statement, the SEC said it had consulted the Office of Private Education Commission, which has publicly stated that there are no regulations currently barring privately owned schools from listing.

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the authority to decide on the issue.

“The SEC and the SET [Stock Exchange of Thailand] have the authority to decide whether to accept schools that wish to raise funds from the capital market, not politicians,” he said.

Apisak was responding to news reports that the education minister has opposed SISB Co, the operator of Singapore International school, listing on the SET.

The SEC has the power to decide who should be allowed to list on the exchange, he said.

“The government offers tax privileges because we want to promote education, regardless of whether they are rich or poor schools,” he said.

Even if schools were listed on the stock market, they should continue to get tax privileges from the government, he insisted.

Tax incentives for educational institutions and fundraising are different matters, he said.

Revenue Department director-general Ekniti Nitithanprapas said the department is currently looking at tax privileges for private schools. He was also looking into whether private educational institutions should continue to receive tax privileges if they list on the SET.

He said the tax exemption covered international schools to support parents sending their children to private schools in Thailand rather than overseas.

In another development, Apisak said that shop owners wishing to participate in the shopping tax break must register for value-added tax (VAT) with the Revenue Department.

However, shop owners who sell under the One Tambon One Product (OTOP) programme do not need VAT registration.

The tax allowance, to be announced next week, will cover tyres, OTOP goods and books. Newspapers and magazines will not be covered, he said.

Shoppers would be eligible for a tax allowance to purchase the above products worth up to Bt15,000 during the New Year season.

The purchase must be made between December 15 and January 15, said Apisak.

SISB Plc’s share price closed Bt4.36 on its first trading day yesterday, but was down Bt0.84 per share, or about 16.15 per cent, from its initial price offering of Bt5.20.

 

Source : The Nation Multimedia

Minor groups hold balance of power

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politics November 26, 2018 01:00

By SOMROUTAI SAPSOMBOON 
THE NATION

DISPARATE PARTIES TO DECIDE AMONG ARCH RIVALS, THE JUNTA AND PHEU THAI, IN FORMING POST-ELECTION GOVERNMENT

THE POLITICAL scene in Thailand remains bipolar since the 2014 military coup, as the country heads towards a new election – the first since 2011.

Before the generals seized power in May 2014, national politics was largely divided between the side that supported fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the side that opposed him. The rival group at the time was led by the Democrat Party, which served as the main opposition to pro-Thaksin governments in the pre-coup Parliaments.

Years later, Thai politics remains just as polarised, divided into a side that supports the ruling junta – National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – and one that opposes it.

While junta figures recently confirmed that the general election will be held on February 24 as tentatively scheduled, some political observers remain wary of the high likelihood of the date being postponed.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has yet to make his political intentions clear, though four of his Cabinet members have joined the newly set up Palang Pracharat Party, which is expected to propose the junta chief as the next prime minister.

The next elections will take place in completely uncharted waters for all participating political players. For the first time, a single ballot will be used to choose constituency and party-list MPs in a rare voting system known as mixed-member apportionate representation.

This will also be the first time that the Senate will join the House of Representatives to select the prime minister if the Lower House is unable to reach an accord on its own.

Hence, it is likely that even if a political party gains majority support in the 500-member Lower House, it may still end up failing to form the next government.

If the 500 MPs cannot reach an agreement, the 250-strong Senate will cast votes to select the new head of government. The winning side will need to get support from at least 376 parliamentarians to gain a majority.

That could be a really tough task, especially for a party that does not have significant backing from the senators.

All 250 Senate members will be handpicked by the NCPO, though 50 will come from short-listed candidates elected by fellow applicants.

Judging from the current scenario, there will be three major groups after the election – the pro-NCPO alliance, the junta’s opponents and the “pivotal factor” group.

Allegiance to junta

The first group will possibly consist of the 250 NCPO-appointed senators, along with the pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party and its allies, namely Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) and People Reform.

Palang Pracharat has recruited many former MPs and veteran politicians, though believe their allegiance was won through offers of personal benefits and threats of legal action.

Observers expect the main pro-NCPO party to win about 80 House seats, though the final number will depend on General Prayut’s popularity in the run-up to the national vote.

ACT Party, led by veteran politician Suthep Thaugsuban, is expected to win no more than 10 House seats, mainly from the party-list system.

Observers suggest that People Reform Party, led by former senator Paiboon Nititawan, is likely to win just one House seat.

So, the pro-junta camp is expected to gain about 91 House seats in total. When combined with the 250 senators, it is likely to have 341 votes. However, that is still not enough to catapult their preferred candidate to the premier’s post.

The anti-junta camp comprises Pheu Thai Party, its so-called “affiliates” – Thai Raksa Chart, Prachachat and Puea Chat – and allies Future Forward and Seri Ruam Thai parties.

Observers suggest that the anti-junta camp has adopted the strategy of “reproducing affiliate parties” in order to take advantage of the new system in which “every vote counts”.

Under the new system, each vote gained in a constituency will be added up to calculate a party’s share of party-list MPs.

Many veteran politicians, including Chaturon Chaisang, recently left Pheu Thai to join Thai Raksa Chart – a move that observers see as “strategic defection”.

Chaturon said his “pro-democracy” camp aims to win as many as 251 seats to command the majority in the House of Representatives.

Pheu Thai a dominant force

Political analysts say his estimation is highly likely, considering Pheu Thai’s victories with wide margins in previous elections.

In the next national vote, Pheu Thai is expected to win about 160 seats – the largest share in the Lower House, albeit not a majority. Thai Raksa Chart is forecast to win 40 seats and Future Forward another 20, while three other anti-NCPO parties could tally 10 seats each.

So the Pheu Thai-led camp is likely to gain about 250 House seats in total. Though that is very close to a House majority, it would still remain several votes short of the 376 from both Houses that are necessary to select a premier.

The third group -– the “pivotal factors” – may prove crucial for both camps, as the rival alliances alone will be unable to form a new government by themselves.

These parties are the Democrats, Bhum Jai Thai, Chart Thai Pattana and Chart Pattana.

Judging from history, the Democrat Party is expected to win about 100 House seats, while observers see Bhum Jai Thai likely gaining 40 seats, Chart Thai 15 and Chart Pattana four.

So a total of about 159 House members spread across the parties in this third group would hold the country’s political balance in their hands.

After the election, the pro-NCPO camp may join forces with all “pivotal- factor” parties to form a new government. But, because it will not command a House majority, the coalition is likely to be unstable, as the rival Pheu Thai-led camp will have an equal number of MPs.

Another possibility is for the Pheu Thai-led camp to form a new government with the support of all “pivotal-factor” parties. Their coalition would have as many as 409 MPs in total.

But many analysts see this option as the least likely, as the Democrats refuse to work with Pheu Thai as long as it remains under Thaksin’s influence.

Pheu Thai may decide to form a coalition government without the Democrats’ help, but for that to happen, it will need a landslide victory.

 

Source : The Nation Muiltimedia

Mother, daughter arrested for allegedly cheating 40 krathong float buyers

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Breaking News November 23, 2018 14:58

By The Nation

A mother and her daughter have been arrested for allegedly scamming 40 people to buy Bt1.5 million worth of krathong floats made of corn husks.

Somruedee Tempiam and her daughter were arrested following complaints from 40 victims, said Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakpal, acting commissioner of the Immigration Bureau

Surachate said the two created a Facebook page to sell corn-husk floats at prices ranging from Bt25 to Bt200, on condition that each order must have a minimum of 50 units.

Surachate said most buyers did not get the floats after transferring money to the pair while some received only part of their order.

Surachate said the mother and daughter also threatened to file defamation suits against anyone who complained about the alleged scam.

The pair were also accused of cheating some 20 members of Tambon Lan Dok Mai OTOP in Kamphaeng Phet’s Kosumphi district. The pair allegedly took the villagers’ corn-husk floats for reselling but did not pay for them.

 

Source : The Nation Multimedia

Medical chiefs to discuss compensation over acid death

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File photo

national November 22, 2018 17:01

By The Nation

The Social Security Office (SSO) medical board will next month consider whether to approve compensation of up to Bt400,000 to the family of 38-year-old acid victim Chorladda Tharawan.

 

She died at the second hospital she was taken to after allegedly being refused treatment at Praram 2 Hospital in Bangkok, said SSO Secretary-General Ananchai Uthaipattanacheep on Thursday.

Chorladda’s family filed a request in Khon Kaen.

This board will examine if the death was caused by poor medical treatment.

Anachai said Praram 2 might be removed from the SSO system.

The Health Service Support Department (HSSD) probe, which reported earlier this week, was unclear if the private hospital denied treatment to the patient. The SSO had asked the HSSD for an answer, Anachai said.

On November 9, Chorladda was attacked with acid by her husband, who was later arrested.

She and her 12-year-old daughter arrived at Praram 2 in a taxi at dawn with acid burns on her face and neck. But she left soon after in another taxi for Bang Mod Hospital, where she was entitled to free treatment, and where she died.

According to the HSSD, Praram 2 might have committed five legal offences, including a failure to follow guidelines about how to categorise emergency patients and a failure to ensure a proper transfer.

HSSD chief Nattawuth Prasertsiripong said the body would lodge a complaint with the police to bring the case to court. If convicted, Praram 2 management could face a two-year jail term and a fine of Bt40,000.

 

Source : The Nation Multimedia