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The Code; teaching tourism professionals to be a responsible brand

The Code opened their workshops with local Thai tourism businesses at the Chiang Mai Hills Hotel on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. Here Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon listens to ECPAT Projects Coordinator Katesanee Chantrakul begin the seminar.

Shana Kongmun
The Code, an offshoot of ECPAT International, a global network dedicated to protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation held a seminar in Chiang Mai on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at the Chiang Mai Hills Hotel to educate local hoteliers and tour operators on the organization and its aims. The Code is an industry driven initiative that provides tourism and travel industry professionals the education, awareness and tools to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the companies. This organization, which is non-religious, does take membership fees from its member partners, those who do not live up to the standards are removed and those who excel in promoting awareness and in combating the commercial prostitution of minors in their industry are given top marks and promoted internationally as socially aware and responsible organizations.
The Code obtains these goals through 6 main ways; instituting policy, training staff to prevent and report, target the supply chains for example with a hotel adding a clause in its contracts with tour providers to prohibit such activities, provide information to travelers, work with local companies to work with their local communities and to learn which police and NGOs to report to, and finally the companies involved will review and publish their results on an annual basis, this will be online and public soon, according to project manager Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon.
The Code offers workshops for local tourism businesses and provides concrete tools and services for members who join, the workshop on Tuesday was held with the Chiang Mai Provincial office of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and ECPAT.
She noted that there are three main perpetrators; pedophiles, people who target pre-pubescent children and normalize their behavior with the belief that everyone does it, these are the ones mainly in the news as they collect databases on kids. The second is the situational, often times these are tourists who are too drunk to notice or unaware that the person they are paying is underage; sometimes it is people who are aware the person is underage but will take the opportunity. They rarely repeat. Finally the last group are also the ones who receive much media attention in Thailand, although as K. Patchareeboon pointed out, Thai men are just as responsible in the underage commercial sex industry as tourists, the traveling sex offender. These are men, and sometimes women, who have been convicted of a sex crime in their home country and flee to avoid the increased scrutiny once they are released from prison. She noted that not all traveling sex offenders are pedophiles.
They train hotels how to spot what could be underage sex workers, to check IDs and keep an eye out for children who may have been checked in by families and delivered to the room of the perpetrator. Membership includes on-site training, and working through scenarios through role playing so the front line staff; front desk, security etc, can really see how it works.
She noted that the Thai police and government have had a severe drop-off in their fight against child commercial sexual exploitation, mainly due to focus on political conflicts. She noted that the commercial aspect has grown over the past few years due to increased materialization in both adults and children, adults who do not see anything wrong with commercial sex to gain the things they want are teaching these same values to minors, the sexualization of young women in the media, the breakdown of the family and social norms, and increasing competitiveness on a material level have led to children who are not able to given informed sexual consent to an adult having commercial sex with an adult.
K. Patchareeboon said that the problem lies in that an underage minor is not able to give informed consent, even if it seems consensual, they are not capable of foreseeing the consequences of their actions and are not being taught the social values that say it’s not ok. She pointed out that it is the responsible adult who should be saying no and, in these cases, is not.


Chiang Mai airlines ready for the high season

New direct flight to Singapore, Bangkok Air adding direct flight to Samui

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
TigerAir in Singapore resumed its 4 flights a week direct from Singapore to Chiang Mai on November 2, 2013. The Singapore based airline departs Chiang Mai on Tuesdays at 6 p.m., Thursdays and Saturdays at 4:40 p.m., and Sundays the flight departs Chiang Mai at 11:20 am.
The flight from Singapore on TR2176 leaves Singapore every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The flights are scheduled to depart Singapore at 3:20 p.m. on Tuesdays, 1:55 p.m. on Thursdays, 1:50 p.m. on Saturdays and 8:40 a.m. on Sundays. Flights are around 3 hours long and Tiger Air is offering a special sale for tickets starting at 3,225 baht one way.
Bangkok Airways is adding new flights to its Chiang Mai – Bangkok route and will now fly six times daily starting December 1, 2013. The airline is also adding a daily direct flight from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui, departing daily; PG242 leaves Chiang Mai every day at 12:50 p.m. and departs Samui at 10:20 a.m. The flight is around 1 hour 50 minutes and the airline is offering seats beginning at 6,590 one way.
Air China launched flights to Chiang Mai from Beijing earlier this month three times per week on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The flight leaves Chiang Mai at 11:45 p.m. and arrives in Beijing at 5 a.m. Beijing time. The flight to Beijing at 6:30 p.m. Beijing time and arrives in Chiang Mai at 11:40 p.m.


What the future holds

(Seated, L to R) Prinn Panitchpakdi, Dr. Steve Keen, Richard Duncan and Paul Gambles discuss in depth what the future might hold for investors.

Professor Steve Keen is often quoted as saying that the only people who believe that they can see the future are fortune tellers, economists and God and that, while he’s sceptical about fortune tellers, he knows for a fact that economists are deluding themselves, often with appalling consequences.
In many ways this view also informs the approach to risk management of MBMG Asset Management (MBMG AM). Managing clients’ hard-earned assets shouldn’t be based on an individual assumption of what the future might hold because, unless God decides to set up an asset management company, no single view is able to predict the future with certainty.
Therefore investment management starts with risk management - how much volatility is an investor willing to stomach? To how great a loss, from the top of a market to the very bottom, are clients prepared to expose themselves? Once we know that, we can start the process of building bespoke portfolios tailored to each client to reflect the optimum blend of assets - the ones that in the very worst imaginable scenarios will perform within that client’s own tolerances but which in the reasonably expected outcomes will deliver the highest returns that the risk constraints allow.
There are no good stocks or bad stocks, or good asset classes or bad asset classes, merely an optimal blend of assets for each client that won’t exceed that investor’s worry threshold. The returns that are generated are an output that reflects that blend within the capital market conditions that then prevail - they can’t be controlled but risk can and should. This approach has driven our success over the years, helping our clients to achieve positive returns in difficult years like 2008 and outperform over the cycle.
When asked at the “What The Future Holds” event in Bangkok this week about how to invest in the current economic climate, Steve Keen advised that academics don’t have huge pots of money to manage; best-selling author Richard Duncan favoured agricultural land (such as in his native Kentucky) along with US residential property. MBMG AM CIO, Paul Gambles recommended a highly diversified portfolio, constructed around individual risk appetite and at most risk levels holding a significant proportion of cash, managed to squeeze every ounce of yield out of it, poised and ready for what could be the greatest opportunities of a lifetime, along with cautious allocations to non-US listed global stocks and to judicious property exposure. Although valuations are high, he favoured Southeast Asia over developed markets but cautioned that a much stronger US Dollar is “almost inevitable” at some stage, although it’s hard to be certain as to when, making patience one of the key components to any portfolio right now.
The event focused significantly on the US economy and US capital markets simply because America is home to the world’s largest economy, main capital markets and greatest financial experiment in history - namely the stimulus policies aggressively pursued by the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department, which have driven US consumer debts to levels much higher than in the 1930s. However, portfolio allocation and economic analysis require a global focus as what the future holds may well be different for each asset class and in different regions despite the close linkages between them. In fact such linkages are often responsible for the inverse relationship between assets that is so important to the diversification and risk management processes.
At the event, Gambles, Keen and Duncan all expressed concerns about levels of global debt and the high risks that such debt holds for the future. Gambles foresaw a range of possible outcomes, mainly comprising the following:
i) QE will work; creating exit velocity growth and real inflation that will outstrip and devalue debt (this has never worked before).
ii) The global economy will ‘turn Japanese’ and we’ll suffer lost decades while the debt slowly and painfully endures - except that this isn’t an outcome, just a long transition to an outcome.
iii) Some kind of re-set or event - a default, actual or effective, or the kind of event that ended the Great Depression, i.e. WWII.
Each outcome will create huge risks and opportunities - it’s impossible to know which outcome will prevail or the timing but awareness of these possibilities allows each investor to position for the full range of outcomes, according to their individual risk profile. It’s not about investing into a particular asset in anticipation of a single outcome. It’s about constructing risk-adjusted portfolios using asset matrices that can withstand the most unfavourable outcomes.
Duncan’s central premise was that, since 1945, the world has been dominated by ‘creditism’ - “We see all economic and capital market activity ultimately driven by credit. This is a manipulation. It’s not capitalism.” His scenario mainly anticipated a binary outcome.
Either the economy continuing to grow with QE being invested in a way that is more efficient - new technologies, green energy, etc - investing a further $5trn into productive sectors will generate adequate sustainable growth to fix the debt problem over time or a Japan-style lost decade or several lost decades will follow.
Keen focused on extreme levels of private debt seeing the economy right now as another accident waiting to happen - probably in the next 2-5 years. It could be just another recession in a long-term cycle of going nowhere for the next couple of decades, Japanese-style, but Keen also worries that social pressures, especially in Europe, could lead to the kind of austerity conditions that brought Hitler to power in the 1930s and led to WWII.
The range of outcomes and the risks inherent in each one only serve to reinforce our convictions about highly personalized risk management with diversification, a coherent outlook and patient pragmatism to the fore.


Home Superstore opens at Central Plaza Airport

Baan & Beyond “New House every day”

The huge new home superstore opened on November 1, 2013.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The newest shopping experience to hit Chiang Mai is Baan & Beyond, a home superstore that opened behind Central Plaza Airport Chiang Mai on November 1, 2013.
Chiang Mai Governor Wichian Phuttiwinyu presided over the opening ceremony for this huge home goods store that is under the management of CRC Thai Watsadu Co., Ltd., a branch of Central Retail Corporation. Situated on 14 rai, the store has 7,400 sqm of retail space and parking for 141 cars. The store was built at a cost of 620 million baht and is the first of its kind in Thailand.
Baan & Beyond offers home furnishings, plumbing, garden furniture and equipment, lighting, curtains and more. They also offer consulting services and 3D design and design advice.
Suthisarn Chirathivat, the President of Baan & Beyond, Home works, Thai Watsadu, Power Buy, CRC Thai Watsadu Co., Ltd., said that the store can serve buyers from Chiang Mai and also nearby provinces; such as Chiang Rai, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, and Tak.


Will these retirement derailers hurt you as a retiree?

By Don Freeman
If you have diligently saved and invested throughout your whole working life to build a good sized nest egg to help see you through retirement, you might be wondering what are the chances something could go wrong?

Unfortunately, the chances are pretty good as an Ameriprise Financial recently surveyed 1,000 employed and retired Americans between the ages of 50 and 70 years old and found that 9 out of 10 respondents had experienced at least one retirement derailer with the average respondent experiencing four costing a total of $117,000 in lost retirement savings. And while respondents mentioned a number of derailers, there are a couple of retirement derailers I feel are more dangerous than others for someone already retired.
1) Boomerang Children or Grandchildren: The financial crisis, lackluster job market and rising cost of living has sent many children or grandchildren home while the high cost of education, especially in the States, means that many young people are weighted down by student loan debt. However, you need to remember that while your children or grandchildren are young enough to still have time on their side to help make it through any financial difficulty, you don’t - meaning you should probably never co-sign a mortgage or a student loan for another family member. Moreover and if a child or grandchild truly needs to return home, think carefully about how their return might impact your finances (e.g. higher utility bills) and suggest an arrangement that would be a win-win for everyone (e.g. they help with utility bills and chores around the house to make your life easier).
2) Pension Income Falls: If you think your pension is completely safe, think again as the private sector is increasingly dumping defined pension plans while even the public sector is struggling to fund the pensions of public sector workers. For those reason, you need to plan on having income from more than one source in case the unthinkable happens with your pension.
3) Asset Value Declines and Low Interest Rates: Asset value declines can come in the form of your portfolio dropping in a market correction or crash or the value of your home falling. To make matters worst, periods where asset values decline often coincide or are followed by periods of low interest rates as governments attempt to restart their economies by holding down rates - meaning your retirement income takes a hit. Fortunately, proper diversification can help lessen the impact from this double whammy and keep you on track.
4) Miscalculated Withdrawal Rates: If you are already retired, perhaps you have been advised that a 4% withdrawal rate is safe (while the 3% to 3.5% level is “absolutely safe”) - meaning if you have a $1 million investment portfolio, you can safely withdrawal $30,000 to $40,000 a year. However, financial advisors are increasingly questioning such withdrawal assumptions in the wake of the dot.com bust, the financial crisis, historically low yields or interest rates, higher life expectances and uncertainty over retirement entitlement programs or future tax rates. In other words, a 3% to 4% withdrawal rate is just a general rule of thumb and your withdrawal rate could be higher or need to be lower.
The easiest way to be prepared for derailers while in retirement is to do the following before you retiree:
1. Spend less
2. Save more
3. Work longer
In reality, one or more of the above and rather simplistic suggestions may not be available to you - especially now that you are already retired. With that said, there was a silver lining from the results of the Ameriprise Financial survey in that that 74% of respondents who had a financial advisor also had a written financial plan to act as a roadmap for the future - meaning they felt more confident about their retirement.
Don Freeman is president of Freeman Capital Management, a Registered Investment Advisor with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), based in Phuket, Thailand. He has over 15 years experience and provides personal financial planning and wealth management to expatriates. Specializing in UK and US pension transfers. Call 089-970-5795 or email: [email protected] (Photo courtesy of NARA)


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

The Code; teaching tourism professionals to be a responsible brand

Chiang Mai airlines ready for the high season

What the future holds

Home Superstore opens at Central Plaza Airport

Will these retirement derailers hurt you as a retiree?