Archive for March, 2008

“Clamp down on these so-called property developers skirting around the law”

Sometimes (not often) the mails sent by readers at Bangkok Post are interesting.

This one is indeed very interesting. It shows what some thais are thinking about land ownership and “foreigners”.

After all the commotion on Koh Samui after the arrest of Lauren Daniel James Fray further highlighting the involvement of foreigners illegally involved in buying, selling and developing land, isn’t it time the authorities did something about this scourge?

There are a large number of foreigners in Thailand who own land illegally through nominee companies.

This land is often engaged in profitable enterprises and not just to build a home on.

It is time for the Thai government to clarify the issue on land ownership by foreigners.

It is time to clamp down on these so-called “property developers” skirting around the law.

Once again the average law-abiding Thais have sand kicked in their faces by foreigners and complicit Thai officials who are getting rich on the back of criminal enterprise.

YADDON TOPLOI Bangkok

Chart, exports : main customers, per year

Here is a view of the main countries/areas for thai exports.expcountries.jpg

The magic four customers for Thailand are : Asean, UE, USA and Japan.

On 2007, thai exports reached a total of 5 255 billions THB.

Asean accounted for 1 120 billions (21 % of the total).

FBA : new amendment and modifications of List 3 ?

He’s back ! Who ? The Foreign Business Act of course.

To follow the saga, please visit my special FBA Dossier (the most comprehensive source of infos about this law).

Okay, let’s try to decipher the article of the Nation.

Four additional restricted businesses – rental, operations leasing, financial leasing and factoring – will be made more open to foreign ownership this week.

“For these four businesses, it will be easier to hold more than 50 per cent in the company,” Kanissorn Navanugraha, director-general of the Business Development Department, said last week.

Great. But the List 3 has 21 entries. And “easier” doesn’t mean “automatic“.

The contract-manufacturing business will be next to be relaxed under the Foreign Business Act, followed by the brokerage, internal trade involving agricultural goods, advertising agency, hotel operating, beverage and food retailing, seed development, computer service, warehouse control service, pawnshop, school and entertainment businesses.

All of them will still be listed in Annex III of the Foreign Business Act, but will receive more flexible conditions to operate here.

Here we go… Previously, with the FBA 2 project, the idea was to remove some items of this famous list 3 (to compensate the fact that FBA 2 was much harder).

This list (“businesses which Thai nationals are not yet ready to compete with foreigners”, basically all the services related businesses) is nothing less than a national shame.

Apparently, the thais are not ashamed to put on this list… “guided tour“, “selling food or beverages“… or “retailing“, “hotels“… and even “production of lime” ! πŸ˜‰

Plus the famous joker, the item # 21 : “(21) Other categories of service business except that prescribed in the ministerial regulations.” It means… all other services ! Convenient, isn’it ?

You don’t believe it ? Check the text of FBA 1 (here).

So now, the government seems to take another route : no change to the core criteria of FBA (how to define a company as foreign or thai), but some cosmetics changes about the content of the list… and the way the list 3 is working. Hum…

Presently, foreigners who want to operate an Annex III business have to ask for approval from the Foreign Business Act committee. As the new conditions go into effect, foreign investors will no longer be required to ask for the committee’s permission. The application procedure and approval process will be predictable and more transparent.

What does it mean ? No need anymore to ask for a licence, but there would be still “an approval process“… ?

Deputy Commerce Minister Banyin Tangpakorn has instructed the department to set up a committee to come up with a concrete plan on whether to amend the act by next month.

The new amendment should be friendlier to foreign investors, while still ensuring the survival of local enterprises, as the last version was too strict in controlling foreign investors, he said.

Several points.

First : it’s very good, they officially aknowledge that FBA 2 was a totally lunatic project.

Second : watch out, we are here in a “thai calendar”. A committee is going to be set up. Then, this committee will submit a “concrete plan“… The process will of course take more than one month.

Third : I’m afraid that we are going to see the perfect thai compromise…

I mean a status quo disguised, once again.

Friendlier to foreign investors“… and meanwhile “ensuring the survival of thais companies“… They need to understand that those 2 aims are antinomic ! πŸ˜‰

The only solution that would put foreign investors at ease would be to clean up the list 3 and remove many items of it. Period.

Thailand must -officially- open its services sector and stop playing with words (the famous section 8 of FBA, related to List 3 : forbidden, “unless permitted by the Director-General with the approval of the Committee“).

To replace a “licence” with an “approval process” is… like replacing water by ice cubes…

Eventually, the fog of war will remain… Keeping the doors open for corruption, favoritism, and protectionism. Some project will be approved, other not. And we need to look at the criterias.

Anyway : let’s wait and see.

Chart, exports : values and growth per year

Value of thai exports, in billions THB (right scale), with the % of growth year on year (left scale), from 2002 to 2007 (source BOT).

expy1.jpg

Since 4 years, the % of growth decreases. It’s not surprising (the base effect).

But obviously many thai politicians don’t understand it, because they continue to call for astonishing growth and other “targets” Mao style.

The truth is that in 2007, exports went up by 6,43 %, to 5 255 billions THB.

Last word : there is no point to calculate exports in… USD (because the USD is falling). The honest way is to look at the total in the local currency, the THB.

Because eventually most of thai exporters will convert their incomes USD or Euros in… THB. Locally.

This is why the fall of the USD is a bad news : exporters get less money for the goods they sell.

South : teachers are fleeing

Teachers, among other civil servants, have always been a target “de choix” for the insurgents in the South (assassinations, schools burnings), because they represent the “thai state” and because they’re the medium of the “thainisation” of the children in the South.

We can see that, unfortunatly, the terror campain is working : the teachers are fleeing. To the north. To Thailand if I may say.

Β More than 200 teachers in four districts of Songkhla province have asked to be transferred for safety reasons as they have been targeted by militants.

Soljai Wiboonkij, director of Songkhla’s education zone 3 office, said his office has been flooded with letters asking for transfers out of the violence-prone districts sent by terrified teachers since early this month, when the last semester ended. Education zone 3 covers four districts _ Chana, Thepha, Na Thawi and Saba Yoi _ which border the three restive southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

There are 208 schools and 2,700 teachers under the office’s jurisdiction.Β Β  (Bangkok Post)

It looks like an administrative cleansing with an ethnic/religious cleansing as the background.

What will happen if Bangkok is unable to maintain a proper state apparatus in the South, because most of the civil servants refuse to stay there ?

Samak complains : “From now on, when reporters ask me question, I’ll say ‘I know nothing’

Poor little thing… The Prime Minister feels sad… The mean journalists ask him too many questions. Kik mak ! He thinks too much. And in Thailand, this is very bad (to think too much).

On friday, Samak talked about a plot against his government (read here).

And now, he feels shy to speak about it and wonders why on earth those damned journalists ask him about this plot ! πŸ˜‰

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej denied Sunday the he was the one who triggered speculation about another coup and vowed to say “I know nothing” when the media asked him for comments on coup rumours.

He said he talked about the coup plot about his government because he was responding to questions from reporter.

He said the media always tried to try fault with him and always laid traps for him to fall to with their questions.

“From now on, when reporters ask me question, I’ll say ‘I know nothing’,” Samak said. (Nation)

Samak is no different than the other thai politicians : spoiled brats.

Weird, police exam : 161 applicants have the same score

The Royal Thai Police Office is investigating how 161 applicants that sat an exam for the posts of non-commissioned police officers all ended up with the same score.

According to deputy police spokesman Pol Maj-Gen Ruangsak Jarit-ek, the applicants aroused suspicion as they all had the same correct and wrong answers and received the same scores in each subject.

The applicants sat for the exam in Provincial Police Regions 8 and 9. (Bangkok Post)

Hopefully, is just “suspicion“. Further investigations are required. πŸ˜‰

Cheating is stupid. But when stupid people are cheating, the outcome is even… worse.


Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.