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Free Copy

March-April 2017



a publication of CanCham Thailand

Ron Livingston CanCham President

2016 - 2017 CANCHAM Thailand Board Members Patron: H.E. Donica Pottie Ambassador of Canada to Thailand

Executive Board: President – Ron Livingston Treasurer – John Casella Secretary – John Stevens Vice President – Dean Outerson Vice President - Angus Mitchell Board of Directors: Surachit (Art) Chanovan Joseph Henry Andrew Kloosterhuis Michael White Lloyd Wilson Sunny Patel Nitipong Boonsong Derek Van Pelt

Embassy Representative: Yvonne Chin

Advisors: Sean Brady Peter van Haren Dan MacKay David A. F. Macdonald Stephen Janson Don Lavoie Ann Baines Picharn Sukparangsee

Executive Director Kelly Cailes

Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce 139 Pan Road, Sethiwan Tower 9th floor, Bangkok 10500 Tel: +66(0) 2266-6085-6 Fax: +66(0) 2266-6087 Email: info@tccc.or.th Website: www.tccc.or.th

The Voyageur is the monthly magazine of the Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce, covering all Thai-Canadian business, legal and social news of interest to the members and others who are active in expanding Thai-Canadian bilateral trade.

Editor: CANCHAM Thailand

Publisher: Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. 211 Soi Prasert-Manukitch 29, Prasert-Manukitch Rd., Chorakeabua, Ladprao Bangkok 10230 Tel: +66(0) 2943-7166-8 Fax: +66(0) 2943-7169 Design: Disraporn Yatprom Email: disraporn@scandmedia.com

Advertising Contact: Mr. Finn Balslev, Marketing Director Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. Tel: +66(0) 2943-7166 ext.116 or 08-1866-2577 Email: finn@scandmedia.com

Dear CanCham Members and Friends,


It has been a fast start to 2017. So what is in store for Thailand in 2017? Well our Crystal Ball Business Luncheon has predicted a fairly conservative year ahead. Our panelists projected that the economy will expand 3.2% in 2017 Long-term economic aspirations are laid out in Thailand’s recent 20-year strategic plan for attaining developed country status through broad reforms. The reforms address economic stability, human capital, equal economic opportunities, environmental sustainability, competitiveness, and effective government bureaucracies. The World Bank is supportive of the reform agenda. Thailand’s Cabinet has approved the 45 billion dollar development of the country’s 2017 Eastern Economic Corridor that includes expanded infrastructure aimed to promote connectivity within Thailand and its neighbors in the Asia region. The EEC will include: expansion of Laem Chabang Port; expansion of the Map Ta Phut Industrial Port; development of the Sattahip Commercial Port into an International Cruise and Ferry Port; development of the U-Tapao International Airport and related Aviation Industries; development of high speed and dual track railways and motorways. Within the EEC, some of the new engine of growth industries are next-generation automotive, smart electronics, digital, affluent medical and wellness tourism, agricultural and biotechnology, food for the future, aerospace, automation and robotics, to name a few. For the EEC, Free Trade Zones are to be developed around seaport and airports. These are to include a global business hub with a one-stop business service center, international banking, research and development centers, modern urban planning for expansion of Pattaya, Rayong, and Chachoengsao. Board of Investment development incentives are to include: • Corporate Income Tax – 0% Max 15 years • Personal Income Tax – 15% for IHQ, ITC • Work Permit Visa – 5 Year • Land Lease – 50 + 49 years. Thailand Board of Investment is also assisting in introducing “Thailand 4.0 Means Opportunity Thailand”, exploring the new value-based economic model that will transform the country’s competitiveness while the world economic power is shifting to Asia. It is clear Thailand is working hard to promote the development of its economy in 2017. For CanCham, we have worked hard to promote our 15th February “Women in Leadership Forum”, together with the Canadian Embassy, Grant Thornton, Orami, PKF and Trends Digital.

Later in the month, we will hold The Great Canadian BBQ on February 25th at the Ambassador of Canada’s Official Residence. CanCham’s Annual General Meeting is currently scheduled for 15th March. So please save these dates and get involved with our Canadian business community. Lets make a difference.

CanCham News

WHY JOIN CanCham Thailand?


Membership Services CanCham Thailand has a member network of Canadians, Thais and other nationalities from a wide range of sectors. We offer business related speaking engagements, themed events, golf tournaments and our Business oriented “Canuck Connections” held the third Wednesday of every month. All of these events and functions create opportunities to meet professionals from all walks of life. As a member, you receive member pricing to our events which saves about 20% - 30% off nonmember prices. Membership to CanCham Thailand offers FREE access to educational resources, advocacy support and the opportunity to participate in networking events throughout Southeast Asia. The CanCham continually partners with think-tanks and stakeholders throughout Canada and ASEAN to produce high-quality, high-impact studies that analysis the health and growth of the Canada-ASEAN economic corridor. In addition to these studies, the CanCham Thailand works closely with local governments and has enjoyed a productive and lasting relationship with the Canadian government. By coordinating closely with our government partners in Canada and throughout ASEAN, we are able communicate our member's concerns to decision-makers in the region. Lastly, the CanCham Thailand is focused on providing high quality Networking Events that bring together key opinion leaders and decision makers active in the region within both the public and private sectors. Community Voice Through the CanCham Executive Director, Board of Directors and other members, we work to address matters affecting members' ability to run a successful business and/or organization in Thailand. CanCham Thailand in conjunction with the JFCCT (Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce in Thailand) and other Chambers of Commerce have the authority to write policy papers with the influence of your community voice. The JFCCT offers various committees such as Tourism, ICT, Education, International Trade and SME. Join a committee and get involved today. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Last year, CanCham donated 934,000 Baht to the People's Eye Care Foundation, the Thai Red Cross and the YWCA. By being involved, as a member or sponsor, you are giving back to the community by supporting our charitable donations. We also support various Alumni organizations and have placements for Interns and Externs at the Chamber office.

Key Benefits: • Access to CanCham’s network • Invitations to CanCham Thailand events, along with ASEAN summits and conferences • Timely and relevant information about business and regulatory developments in the region • Networking opportunities with local and multinational firms operating in Thailand and Southeast Asia • Access to regional decision-makers in both Canada and ASEAN TO JOIN, please follow this link: http://www.tccc.or.th/20-great-reasons-join-tccc/



CanCham Thailand wishes King Rama X Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun best wishes on his ascension to the throne.

Canada – Thailand Relations Member News



Member News

March - April 2017


Member News



Member News

March - April 2017


CanCham’s Crystal Ball Business Luncheon:

“The Year Ahead”


Held at the Eastin Grand Hotel Sathon, CanCham’s annual Trends Digital Crystal Ball Luncheon featured four guest speakers speaking on Digital Marketing, Capital Markets, Politics and Real Estate. The moderator Chris Bruton is the Executive Director of Dataconsult. He is a good friend of Canada, having worked closely with Canadian educational institutions and in research on behalf of Canada. He holds graduate qualifications in economics, law and human resources from the UK, France and Malaysia. Ian Fenwick, Advisor & Professor of Marketing at Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration was the first speaker and discussed Digital Marketing. He handled this question from moderator Chris Bruton: Digital marketing seems to be the most effective marketing tool available today. But what about the traditional media, newspapers and magazines? If there is no advertising, these will cease to exist. Can traditional media adapt so we can continue to enjoy the benefits of both traditional and digital media? Ian replied, “Always easy to predict the future of digital: More, More, More! Whatever you did digitally in 2016, you will do more in 2017. We can expect more use of mobile devices. In fact, the term ‘mobile’ will wither away, just as the term ‘colour’ did with TV sets. The assumption will be that it is mobile. “More ecommerce, especially for consumer purchases. You’ve almost certainly made an online purchase in 2016: in 2017 you’ll make at least three times as many. Especially, we can expect more social commerce—the Southeast Asia twist on ecommerce which harnesses friends and social media to get second opinions on potential purchases, and informed advice on vendor and product reliability from those who have already purchased. “This will have a snowball effect. As more people find that online transactions are easy, quick and much less risky that they thought, the ecommerce



channel will surge. Physical retail space will become a place for testing, comparison, and possibly collection, with the purchase transaction occurring online. “More video everywhere. Just as pictures displaced words, so video will replace still-pictures. We can expect to see growing augmented reality (think Pokémon Go) and even virtual reality (think geekish goggles covering your face). Personally, I think virtual reality will need to add a lot more reality and a lot less virtual if it is to hit the mainstream. “More and more gadgets will become internet connected: the so-called internet of things (IoT). Already we are seeing consumer devices from refrigerators to showers to lightbulbs that are internet connected, and often voice controlled. “Aside from the cacophony to which this will reduce our homes, it will also open up vulnerable channels for hackers to control our devices. We can expect more “ransomware”: demanding bitcoin payment if we are ever to be able to switch our lights on! And more “botnets” of hijacked devices which can be directed for illicit and mischievous purposes such as attacking specific websites, or spreading ‘fake

news’ (there will be more of that too). “The internet of things, which we voluntarily welcome into our homes, have the potential to become extremely intimate spies: an internet of not just of things, but of tell-tales (IoT-T)! Before 2016 was out, there were reports of attempts to subpoena voice-activated devices that may have ‘heard’ a crime being committed. This will become commonplace in 2017, opening the door for the rise of ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) that will surely dominate the next decade. “The one ‘less’ in digital in 2017 will be privacy. We are, it seems, quite willing to sacrifice our privacy for a modicum of digital convenience. Let’s hope that’s not a trade-off we will live to regret.” Next up was Sunchai Kooakachai, the Deputy Managing Director for Colliers International. His question from Chris on real estate was “Bangkok seems to be growing in all directions, north, south, east and west, as well as skywards, with mass transit struggling belatedly to ease gridlock traffic. Is there any hope that decentralization will work, with growth of other cities nationwide, maybe even a new capital city, as has been suggested from time to time?” Sunchai responded, “It seems that the Bangkok Mass Transit has been driving residential sector growth the past

few years. The Purple Line is a good example of the city expanding with a lot of new condominiums located along the line. Unfortunately, more than half these condos are vacant without permanent residents. People that live in the condominiums still need to travel back to the CBD area for work. There are two main drivers in creating a new city or CBD area: people and job opportunities are needed in those areas. We may need some multinational companies to dare to put their office buildings in new residential to help develop a new real city.”

nomic forecasts of what would happen to the UK post-Brexit to UK weatherman Michael Fish famously predicting English weather would be pretty fine on the eve of the biggest storm to hit London and the south east of England in living memory. (Note MBMG forecasts were the most accurate I've seen and my colleagues at IDEA Economics & I make up the majority of what The Guardian's Larry Elliott calls ‘the small group of Cassandra's who predicted the GFC in 2008 - apparently just 13 out of 36,000 registered economists globally’)

Sunchai said that in general the Thai property market seem a little better in sentiment than last year. Positives include a continuing low interest rate & inflation plus accelerated government spending on infrastructure projects such as Bangkok Mass Transit, and the Eastern Economic Corridor. While negatives include the political situation with martial law, a weak economy and fluctuating currency, high household debt/tight lending, high land prices in the city area and a shortage of construction workers.

“There have been structural issues in the global economy for some time and these are only worsening. The real key to 2017 is that there are now some po-

He also noted that the Eastern Economic Corridor will drive the general demand for commercial property but it will take time for the residential & resort property market in that area to develop. He also notes that continued stress in the household debt will cap general growth in residential sector. Moderator Bruton then asked Paul Gambles, the co-founder of the MGMB Group, a question on Capital Markets: “Project investors are very cautious about Thailand at the moment, viewing future country risk as highly speculative. What would you say to overseas investors and what will be needed in 2017 to give them greater confidence?” Paul’s response “Winston Churchill famously said ‘I've always avoided making forecasts in advance; it's easier to make predictions after the event’ but this especially true for economic forecasts according to none other than the Bank of England's Chief Economist, Andy Haldane - one of the few shining lights in the dismal science fiction of economics today despite not because of his Canadian boss! Haldane compared the appallingly inaccurate eco-

“These three factors are all so closely interconnected that the expectations of getting through 2017 unscathed seem to be far lower than the markets are pricing in. “Thailand has some encouraging fundamentals but the direction of Thai markets this year is more a hostage to international events than domestic ones. For some years, we've been warning that damaged fundamentals could lead to an economic and capital market day (or rather years) of reckoning - 2017 is the first time since 2007 that it's now our base case that this will happen. I described markets at the start of 2016 as Kardashian markets - they look great from a distance but there's huge but(t).....2017 is the year of caveat emptor.....

Crystal Ball forecasts Panelist



Baht /US$

Ian Fenwick




Paul Gambles



30.0 – 45.0 (av. 37.5)

Virot Ali



34.0 – 35.0 (av. 34.5)

Sunchai Kooakachai Chris Bruton




3.2 / 3.3


36.0 – 37.0 (av. 36.5)

tential triggers for these issues to turn into events. One of Europe's most successful investment managers, Didier St Georges has described investing in global capital markets at this time as dancing on a volcano. That's probably the best analogy for most, if not all global markets right now: “Europe has never been closer to economic, political or social breakdown since the 1930s and we all know what happened then “The US had reached an unsustainable peak even before the election of Donald Trump was thrown into the mix - and our analysis is that Trump's supposedly stimulus policies are more likely to make America broke again by triggering a recession that could easily become the next Great Depression “Closer to home the economies of China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, CANADA!!, Sweden and Norway (all of which avoided the worst of the GFC) are at the extreme private debt bubble phase described by Hyman Minsky as the ‘Ponzi stage’.

“For Thailand, the opportunities are in the ability of domestic fundamentals to positively influence projects and businesses to a greater extent than would be expected to be outweighed by major global setbacks - Thai infrastructure spending would be a boon if it gathers momentum and also there are sectors, such as digital and e-commerce where we see local growth opportunities despite the global backdrop.” Bruton wrapped it up by asking Virot Ali, a lecturer on international politics, Faculty of Political Science at Thammasat University, the following: “Thailand has experienced 20 constitutions and as many coups. Whenever some semblance of democracy emerges, it subsides for one reason or another into disarray. So, then we have a coup and start all over again. Is there now any hope of a break through?” Due to the sensitive nature of the remarks in this presentation, we thought it was best to leave that discussion in the meeting room. A big thank you Trends Digital & Sunny Patel for title sponsorship of the event.

March - April 2017


CanCham News

CanCham News

Member News

Peter van Haren joins CanCham Hall of Fame


Former CanCham President Peter van Haren has joined Sam Cohen and Sean Brady as the only members of CanCham’s Hall of Fame. Peter has served as CanCham’s president at two different times: first from 1998-2001 and then from 2012-2015. Peter is easily one of the most recognized and high-profile CanCham board members as he has also served as President of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT) for over 9 years and he also has his own radio show in Thai. To highlight Peter’s CanCham career, we thought we would show a profile of Peter written by Scott Murray in 1998 during his first term as CanCham President followed by a Q & A we did with him in 2013, during his second time around as Chamber President. It’s fair to say that few board members have had as much influence over CanCham affairs as Peter has over the last two decades. Riding the rails to success (published originally in the July-August 1998 issue of Voyageur) When Peter van Haren first learned he was being posted to Thailand he went to a used bookstore in Red Deer, Alberta, and started leafing through old issues of National Geographic. A librarian had given him a tip that’s where he could find information on the “Land of Smiles”. Well, he found stories on the bird’s nest caves, and some photo-op pieces on palaces and wats but nothing to really prepare him for his future travails in the kingdom of Thailand. So Peter showed up expecting lots of jungles, monkeys and snakes. His job was to hook up fibre-optic telephone systems by aerial cable running along the sides of the Thailand’s railway lanes. Peter had only been associated with CanCham (then the Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce) for a yearand-a-half before he became Chamber President. Remembering Peter says, “Without the past presidents, and



ing up telephone cable? “Before I came here I worked for AGT (the Alberta Government Telephone company),” he says. “And I spent a lot of time traveling throughout Alberta, working with customers in rural areas in a province-wide private-line campaign that the AGT was promoting. We engineered the job, and installed and commissioned the equipment. It was a very large project.

board members I couldn’t have done the job. They gave me a lot of support and credit for what I did to date. If I didn’t have those guys pushing me, and challenging me, and giving me some fatherly advice, it would have made my job a lot more difficult.” Peter’s parents immigrated to Canada in 1953, but they came from the Rotterdam area of the Netherlands, which is where Peter’s older sister Mary was born. Peter was born in Red Deer, Alberta in 1955. He says, “I continually call myself Canadian, but there isn’t an ounce of Canadian blood in me, it’s all Dutch. I wanted to be totally Canadian, so I balked at the idea of learning to speak Dutch when I was young because I thought it was inappropriate for a Canadian boy, so I never did. Peter built a house for himself back in Red Deer. “It was a good experience, a good confidence booster. Anyone who goes through the experience of almost single-handily building their own house is going to gain a lot confidence in their ability to achieve something that is quite monumental. If you have any doubts about your abilities before you start, you realize that you quickly learn how to cope and how to make decisions.” So how did Peter get involved in hook-

“But, when I wanted to settle down and stop moving from motel to motel, I took up an office job with the same company. At first, the job entailed workload coordination and project management, but then I recognized the chance to do more than just work on the technical side of things. I saw there was more potential in working the business side of things, so I started to go on more business-related in-house training programs and to attend night school to learn management and accounting principles. “I then moved towards budget administration, preparation and the monitoring of our telephone projects. At the same time, I started getting interested in computers, and I applied this interest to building applications that would increase and monitor the productivity of our offices, as well as the workload that was being done, and the products that were being shipped into the field. And how much all of this was costing us in trying to keep a balanced budget. “At the beginning, I wasn’t sure of myself, because I had never really done anything like it before, but my boss soon asked me to help him prepare the provincial budget for the following year. I did, and when I was finished he said, ‘It looks really good, now you can go present it to the panel, and the provincial director next week.’ When I protested due to my inexperience, he looked at me and said, ‘Peter, don’t be a shrinking violet.’ Well, I took that as a challenge, and I went ahead and did it. I continued to work in that department until the opportunity to come to Thailand arose.”

Member News Peter’s company at the time, ComLink, built and maintained telecommunication and fibre-optic networks. It was established on 9 Dec 1988, and in early 1990 became a bidder for the establishment and installation of fibreoptic cable along the railways route of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). One of five companies, the company submitted the winning tender to undertake the cable installation for a period of twenty years along the railway routes in co-operation with the Telephone Organization of Thailand (ToT), as well as the SRT. The contract was signed on 21 Dec 1990.

confident that I can do anything you want me to do.” Peter recalls the initial stages of the operation, “After building the network, we were responsible for keeping the network operating, so any failures (which happened a lot) we had to dispatch rapid-repair teams. I spent countless evenings in my pajamas in

monumental,” he says, “because we had equipment and materials coming in from all over the world, places like Holland, Germany, Australia, Israel and North America. It was quite a task to co-ordinate and to make sure the procurement staff were getting everything cleared through customs, and then getting it out into the field so that work could get done. We had to make sure

John Kortbeek, a Canadian, who was working for the international division of Alberta Telephone International (ATI) saw an opportunity to get involved with the then US$200 million fibre-optic project that was being implemented in Thailand. But he couldn’t get sufficient support, or financing, from Canadian companies so he decided to resign from ATI and look for a number of Thai financiers to invest in the project instead. He was successful and those shareholders included: Kasikorn (then the Thai Farmers Bank); Telecom Holdings Co., Ltd.; Mr. Santi Bhirom Bkakdi; Mr. Siritaj Rojanapruk; and Pol. Gen. Maj. Vimol Indamra. Peter came into the project because Kortbeek had already made an agreement to bring in employees from ATI if he did get the contract. “When I was interviewed for the job, I said I wanted to go over, I don’t know what jobs you’ve got, but I’m interested in the project, and I feel comfortable and

the living room of our small apartment directing emergency restoration work from the telephone.” All of Com-Link’s lines originate in Bangkok and stretch to Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Prachinburi, Rayong and Yala. The system backhauls telephone organizations’ circuits from the provinces to Bangkok and vice versa, and they are mostly used for long-distance phone lines. Originally, Peter’s job was to co-ordinate the work force and materials to get the project finished. “It was quite

the bills got paid and the budget was balanced.” Peter admits he’s a workaholic and says it has hurt his home life. “Work has been a very high priority in my life, and my personal and family life have suffered for this. I devote a lot of energy to my job. I cannot sit still; I cannot just sit on the couch, watch TV, and chitchat about daily life. I’ve got to be doing something. After supper, I go into my office, and do some more work, or I go and work on one of my hobbies in the workshop.” So why has Peter stayed in Thailand for so long? “Originally, I was so involved with the work, and so involved with getting things done that time just flew by. I saw results, and also had some gratitude come back to me in the form of advancement, added responsibilities, and increased personal benefit. But really the first three or four years went by very quickly because I was so involved in the project. “Since it was a Build-Transfer-Operate (BTO) project we had to handle the transition of the project as well as the operation and that meant maintenance, routine and repairs and I was respon-

March - April 2017


sible for setting up all that as well as organizing the ‘clean-up’ too.” Was it more difficult working in one particular part of the country? “The southern part of the country is the most challenging to work in,” Peter says. “The accessibility and terrain are more difficult and the southern culture is different as well. To get things done in Thailand you have to work very closely with the people. If you work in the Northeast, you deal with the friendly Isarn people: in the North, you deal with the congenial northern people but there is a different agenda in the South and the attrition rate for foreigners in our company in that region was much higher than in any other area.” Peter went on to become the CEO of the SET listed company, Wiik & Hoeglund PLC and Executive Vice President of KWH Pipe Ltd. (Finland). As CEO he was responsible for manufacturing and annual sales of approximately THB1.5 billion in the Asian region, and was also a member of the global management team based out of Vaasa Finland, which controlled their 18 global offices. What does he say about this? “Becoming the CEO of a publicly listed company was one of the best experiences of my life. A business person naturally becomes familiar with company affairs and budgets through experience, however running a public company is a whole other ball game. Transparency, stakeholder and shareholder pressures that come from the gamut of punter investors and regulators alike might not be like roasting over a fire, but it gets pretty darn hot!” He says “it was worth every minute”. Peter enjoys teaching part time in the International Trade and Business Logistics (B.B.A) program at the International College at KMUTNB. These courses include Organizational Behavior, International Business Strategy, and International Business Ethics. He’s also a regular course facilitator for the Institute of Directors (IOD), teaching The Practice of Directorship to executives and board directors of Thailand’s top public and private businesses. How does Peter relax? “I try to get out

bike riding as often as possible, with a goal of 100 kilometers per week. Besides the exercise factor, I find it kind of therapeutic.” Although it might not seem as relaxing for some, he loves to work in his home wood and metal work shop. Building things, by first putting ideas into a 3d model cad design, then physically seeing them turn into something usable helps scratch his itch to feel productive. He says “I get bored easy, need to stay busy doing something all the time. My mother says it’s the ‘van Haren’ curse!” Peter also flies remote-controlled helicopters and drones and he says it’s a great way to relieve stress. “Being somewhat technically inclined and always wanting to do something with my hands, whether it be pushing a pencil, or just tinkering around, flying

helicopters is a challenge. To maintain, set-up and operate a remote-controlled helicopter is quite involved, and it’s difficult. It gives me a chance to vent. “Flying these aircraft requires concentrating one hundred percent on what you are doing or you will crash. So, it really blocks out everything else.” Peter says there are some organized flying sites in Thailand where there are other fliers, so there is a social aspect to it as well. 99 percent of the other fliers are Thai so it gives him a chance to brush up on his Thai as well. Despite his serious business side, Peter does have a keen sense of humor. At a luncheon put on by the Thai-German and Thai-Canadian chambers, he sat next to then Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, who complimented Peter on his Thai. At one point during the event,

Peter had the PM in stitches with a joke that we unfortunately can’t print here. Ken Lewis, a former Trade Commissioner at the Canadian embassy in Bangkok approached Peter about joining the Chamber. “I thought I could use my -building confidence, organizational skills, and hard work, to be of benefit to the Chamber,” he recalls, “but when I was first approached about running for president I was unsure about taking the position, so I talked to my old friend John Kortbeek, who echoing the Nike commercial said, ‘Just do it’ Q & A with then CanCham President Peter van Haren (portions published originally in the March 2013 issue of Voyageur) You have a gift for speaking Thai –how did you so good at it? “I can’t give you a specific answer to this. I did take private lessons near the beginning of my stay in Thailand. Although our Canadian superior on the project told me that I would be wasting my time, and learning the language wasn’t necessary or important, my usual stubborn self told me otherwise. I took weekly lessons for approximately six months, starting with a painful first set of lessons only focusing on what seemed like noises (tones, vowels & consonants) and how to hold my mouth and tongue. Not fun, but for anyone to learn to speak Thai, I highly recommend suffering the initial pain and get the tones right. I had a great teacher whose name was Khru Phet (teacher diamond). Initially I didn’t know what her name meant, but was told one day at work (with much laughter) that her name was “diamond” and not “duck” (bpet) as I had been pronouncing it. The point is, to learn a language you have to use it, but better yet have fun with it.” You have a radio program in Thai; please tell us a little about it. “I have been doing Thai language live radio on MCOT FM 96.5 for quite a few years now. I started when a friend of mine asked me if I’d take on the challenge of doing a weekly evening program called ‘The Stage for Thought’ where I’d be a call-in guest to discuss a foreigner’s view of Thailand and the world. I did that for a couple years until

an opening came up for the popular program CEO Vision, every Thursday morning. I jumped at the opportunity as CEO Vision has historically been one of the top radio talk shows in Thailand, and certainly more of a challenge (substance-wise). “The challenge has been a lot of fun, although sometimes a bit stressful. It seems that no matter how diplomatic or contributory we try to be, there’s always someone that doesn’t see things that way. Discussing political figures will always get me in trouble. I’ve also learned that even though the program is supposed to focus on the vision of management, the listeners always give more feedback on issues that touch them personally, regardless of the topic, or intention. “I’ve often been asked what the feedback is like. Simply put, I’ve received the full spectrum from ‘you are a foreigner and don’t have the right to say such things’ to ‘keep saying it straight, we need more of these types of comments’. Although, it might not in my nature I’ve learned that, perhaps unfortunately, as a guest to Thailand speaking on the radio, I should stay relatively neutral in my delivery. “Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to say what is really on your mind?” This is your second time around as CanCham president, what’s different this time? “Yes, this is my second time. I think the biggest difference this time is that I’ve gained a wealth of experience over the past 15 or so years since my first involvement with the Chamber. These include having been the Chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand for nine years, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trade of Thailand for seven years, Advisor to the International Chamber of Commerce, Advisor to the Ministry of Industry, Advisor to the Thai Trade Representative and Director of the Thai-Finnish Chamber of Commerce. All these official positions taught me a lot about working on issues relevant to CanCham. Throughout the time, I’ve also learned and been told about the things I didn’t do so well during my first stint as CanCham President; mistakes are great teachers if we accept that we are fallible.”

What are you most proud of about CanCham? “CanCham has been very active and visible lately and that is a very good thing! We are relatively small by member count, but are perhaps the most active Chamber in Thailand. We continually host nearly 40 events over a twelve-month period, that’s three per month! That makes me very proud of the hard work of our Executive Director, staff and of course the Board of Directors. “But lots of activity isn’t entirely what we are about. CanCham is actively involved in giving to Thailand socially. We concurrently worked on two philanthropic programs, one to help improve human lives in the tiny village of Ban Nong Phai and the other to restore eyesight to needy rural people in remote areas of Thailand. The Chamber is very proud that we can give and contribute in these ways though the generosity of our membership. “Reflecting on the organization name “Chamber of Commerce”, I’m proud to see that we can make a difference in the commercial lives of our members and business partners for the better. Whether it is active trade promotion through business-related activities such as trade fairs, a successful mission to Myanmar, or dedicated advocacy on regulatory issues, we should be proud that we, as Canadians, working closely with the Embassy, can improve trade relations for those around us.” How and where do you think CanCham needs to improve? “In my opinion, we need to modernize and perhaps shed some of our stodgy ways, while maintaining some of our more valuable traditions. Since my first day in the position for this term, I have stated that we need to have a fresh and young approach to what we do. We need to generate more opportunities for the younger members of the Board and membership to be able to express themselves. My observation is that there can be stagnation within chambers, perhaps ours included, and there is a need for our chamber to differentiate from the other 30+ chambers established in Thailand. “We also need to capitalize on being Canadians. Our image is admirable and respected, yet we are subdued in

exposing and promoting ourselves. As Canadians, we have a lot to be proud of and CanCham can be the perfect vehicle to highlight this. “I would also like to see more member involvement. If possible, we need to reach out to our general membership, inviting them to take a more active role in what we do. “I hope that the Chamber will grow and be more visible, and with that growth will come a desire of non-members to become members. This doesn’t mean clamoring to get our pictures taken for magazines or social media, nor does it mean speaking behind the microphone. It’s much more than that. If we can be active, positive and desirable then people will automatically want to become members of CanCham.” “Finally, I would like to see more participation from and activities for women, Thais and the younger generation. We need to have more activities of interest for them, while encouraging them to be involved in the Chamber management as well.” What is about Thailand that most intrigues you and keeps you here? “I still see Thailand as the land of opportunity. It’s a matter of knowing how to get things done. “Also, just like our members, I’ve had numerous chances to meet interesting and influential people while living here. This wouldn’t have happened living in my hometown of Sylvan Lake, Alberta. “I’ve often said that Thailand can be challenging, frustrating, or sometimes even discouraging, however I’ve never been bored here. Boredom is the bane to my mental well-being and so far, contrary to the opinion of some, I’m still ok on that front.” What do you miss most about Canada? “Perhaps, the beauty of Alberta, living by a lake and all the activities that go with the ‘laker’ community. Another thing that you won’t know you even miss is the seasons of the year until you live in a country like Thailand which basically only has one season, hot! There’s a lot to be said for seasonal change”

CanCham News

Lies damned lies…and tax cuts


Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump actually have something in common: they have both pledged to put more money in the majority of people’s pockets by making sweeping tax cuts, haven’t they? Well, no, not really. One of the rare instances of a policy proposal (as opposed to a soundbite or tweet) outlined by candidate Trump during the torturous two-year-long US presidential campaign – to reduce income tax – may actually succeed in getting the backing of Republicans in both houses. The new US president’s proposed tax cuts are not, however, aimed at increasing the disposable income of America’s lower-income earners. Instead, they are targeted at favouring the wealthiest individuals and the corporations they own. Of course, that’s nothing new. US political history is full of promises to haul in government spending and thus reduce tax. These announcements tend to meet with huge popularity; even if history shows that they scarcely come to full fruition and, even if they do, are usually aimed at the wealthiest sections of American society. Michael Moore may be the kind of journalist who starts with a conclusion and then works his way towards proving himself right; but he appears to be spot on when he says tax cuts for the rich are always popular among low-income Americans because they cling on to the largely illusory belief that they will one day be rich and benefit themselves. Notwithstanding the worst excesses of political influence on spending plans, the US government has generally been spending its funds in a vaguely equitable manner in recent years (just look at the 2014 record high of 46.7 million Americans on food stamps ). The new plan, however, is to put those funds into the accounts of the wealthy. This could devastate US economic growth while also creating even greater social division than there is today. This in a country which purports to be the



world’s richest; yet some people have to work two jobs and spend hours commuting by bus, in order to feed their children. The cynic in me wonders if this is a win-win for President Trump. As he buys favour from those with the most financial influence, he creates further division, while simultaneously staging himself as the hero of common man (not woman!). It may be easy – and somewhat gratifying – to sneer at ’Murica and its self-destruction. But there are two problems with this: a US economic malaise affects its neighbours and the global economy; and the Canadian government is hardly covering itself in tax glory right now, either. On coming to power in late 2015, Justin Trudeau’s government proposed – and is now implementing – restructured income tax brackets. The new plan reduces the second bracket ($45,917$91,831) from 22% to 20.5%, while creating a new upper bracket of 33% for income over $202,800. The idea sounds well-intentioned: a tax reduction which reaches the consuming middle classes, paid for by further taxing the richest Canadians. But, David Macdonald, an economist writing in Maclean’s, calculated using a Statistics Canada model, that the best savings will in fact be made by families whose incomes are between $124,000 and $166,000 (an average saving of $521) and those bringing in $166,000 and $211,000 (an $813 cut, on average). These people may not be in the same super-rich category as those who will benefit from Trump’s proposed cuts but they’re still in the wealthy minority. In contrast, Macdonald calculated that around 1.6 million families with an income of about $48,000 to $62,000 will, on average, have a tax reduction of just $51; while those making $62,000 to $78,000 will save $117. Plus, over 68% of Canadians won’t benefit at all because their income is under $45,917. And yet everyone will lose out

to varying degrees (but mainly the lower or no income earners) if government services, support and benefits are cut in order to fund this bonanza. If the federal government were indeed serious about boosting the economy, it would need to increase – or at least maintain – consumption levels, in an organic way. The organic point is an important one. In 2015, according to the World Bank, Canada’s level of consumption finally got back to its 2009 point (i.e. just before the GFC affected numbers). Yet, while the rest of the developed world has been deleveraging, Canadian households have increased their debt levels to a catastrophic level. Like the US, Canada’s economy desperately needs to reflate its private sector. It is currently deflated because of the high debt-to-income levels that have been accumulated by households and businesses over the last four decades. In fact, IDEA Economics Chief Economist, Prof. Steve Keen, has included Canada in his list of the 7 worst private-debt offenders. Genuine reflation requires reducing the value of the debts and boosting available net incomes, especially to those most severely affected. It may seem that the sensible way to reflate through consumption is to reduce the tax bills of those with a middleincome and above. After all, they can afford to buy stuff, right? The thing is, though, that they can also afford to save – and invariably do. Consequently, there is a greater propensity to keep that extra money in their accounts, taking it out of circulation to the detriment of the economy. Studies show consistently and reliably that just about the most effective way to stimulate an economy is to put money in the hands of those with the greatest propensity to spend, i.e. the poorest members. Any curb on economic activity further hurts those with lower incomes. As

CanCham News businesses make less money, wages stagnate and unemployment rises. In fact, the US National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has estimated that for every US$1 of typical tax cuts, around 50 US cents disappear from economic circulation. That’s bad enough, but the actual Canadian and proposed US tax cuts aren’t typical because they happen at a point in the economic cycle where they will have a far worse effect – a time when greater circulation is needed to get economies going again. Thus, the best way to go about boosting circulation is to give greater purchasing power to those people in the lower-income band. They will increase spending on the basics, which enriches the economy across the board. Not only that, but the wealth gap will start to narrow, reducing social division and its accompanying tensions. That may not be Mister Trump’s goal, but is it too much to hope that it could be that of Monsieur Trudeau?

Paul Gambles, co-founder of MBMG Group

MBMG Group is an advisory firm that assists expatriates and locals within the South-East Asia Region with services ranging from Investment Advisory, Personal Advisory, Tax Advisory, Corporate Advisory, Insurance Services, Accounting & Auditing Services, Legal Services, Estate Planning and Property Solutions. For more information: Tel: +66 2665 2536 e-mail: info@mbmg-group.com Linkedin: MBMG Group Twitter: @MBMG_GROUP Facebook: /MBMGGroup (Please Note: While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained herein is correct, I cannot be held responsible for any errors that may occur. My views may not necessarily reflect the house view of MBMG Group. Views and opinions expressed herein may change with market conditions and should not be used in isolation.)

“A better future starts with one person who cares about a better world.” Fran, Grade 10, designed a sustainable building for his personal project.

At KIS International School all students can shine. The midsize, caring community allows KIS students to be confident and to be appreciated as an individual, with unique dreams and strengths. The school is a full IB school, offering the International Baccalaureate Programmes for all age groups (IB Primary Years Programme, IB Middle Years Programme and IB Diploma), ensuring an academically rigorous curriculum that not only prepares students to be successful at university, but also teaches important life skills. KIS, it’s all about Knowledge, Inspiration and Spirit. Check out the students’ videos to learn more about their passion www.kis.ac.th

Tel: +66 (0) 2274 3444 Email: admissions@kis.ac.th

March - April 2017


CanCham News

Success Canada promotes

Canada’s Excellence in Education


Surachit “Art” Chanovan is the Managing Director of Success Canada.org, an educational office designed to offer advice and counseling about Canadian education services to Thai students, parents, and local school counselors. Its roots date back to the Canadian Education Centre (CEC), which Art ran. It was located in the Boonmitr Building on Silom, which then also housed the Canadian embassy. Art has continued to represent Canadian educational institutions in Thailand with integrity and dedication through consultation and seminars to help raise awareness of Canadian education, not only with the general public but also with education agents’. He organizes Canadian education fairs/forums twice a year in March and October and works in alliance with colleagues in other Southeast countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia to help promote Canadian education. Formed on Feb. 1, 2010, with the blessing of then Canadian Ambassador Ron Hoffman and then Trade Commissioner Greg Goldhawk (who went on to be Canada’s Ambassador to Mongolia), Success Canada has maintained the support and a strong collaboration with the embassy to the present day. This March, will be the sixteenth event organized by Success Canada.org since its establishment seven years ago. Success Canada.org also acts as representative of Canadian educational institutions in Thailand in order to help promote awareness and assist them in recruiting students in Thailand with school visits, agent visits, accommodation, transportation requirements, etc. Success Canada.org is a one-stop consulting service for the Thai public focusing on all aspects of studying in Canada, including help in organizing travel plans to get there. It regularly does outreach presentations and showcase events in both Bangkok and upcountry at international and local schools, colleges and universities. The organization’s normal and mobile website (www.successcanada.org) is



in Thai to help educate the Thai public about all the aspects of Canadian education with links to supporting Canadian institutions’ websites. The LINE address (SuccessCanada) is very popular and full of information— “It has a huge database. it’s just like reading a magazine and our Q&A is very popular,” Art says. It has been seven years since Success Canada.org was formed and it has grown and kept promoting Canadian education and its various promotional activities have paid off as the market

is growing and the brand is now wellestablished in the Thai market. Art says Success Canada.org and the market for Canadian education will grow stronger in the next five years because Canada is listed as one of the top five countries in the world as a best place to live, because of its safety, diverse environment, quality and highly-acclaimed academic programs (among the lowest in total costs of study – tuition & living costs), its multicultural society and friendly people, its neutral English accent and a chance to learn French, the opportunity to work

while studying on- and-off campus after graduation for three years. There are so much more than just these seven reasons to choose Canada as a study destination, but key factors include the four seasons (in summer it can be just like Thailand), the one and only native English speaking country where Thais won’t find any discrimination. Thais can also blend in easily in Canada, just as if they were walking in Siam Paragon or Central World as testified to by many Thai students who experienced Canada for the first time and have craved to go back for another visit. Due to lack of Canadian tourism offices in the region, Success Canada strives to help Thais understand Canada better. Comments based on evaluation forms on the education fair Success Canada staged last October show that most participants rated the fair very good to excellent in almost all categories

including overall experience and organization. Art was very appreciative of all the Canadian representatives from thirteen institutions (high schools, colleges and universities) who participated in this bi-annual forum, the 15th major event organized successfully by Success Canada. There was much positive feedback from visitors and participants who anonymously filled out the evaluation forms. These comments, included, “Very impressed! I did not think it was going to be this good. Fantastic atmosphere considering the circumstances, well done, Art!” Another: “Good size, steady inflow of visitors. Most visitors were serious. Good conversations. We are pleased with the format and turnout of the fair. The conversations that we

had were engaging and the supporting agent did a great job”. One more: “Conducive for speaking and interacting with families. Excellent job. Keep up the good work, Art.” Yet another: “Good and comfortable venue. Well organized and the facilities provided were excellent! Thank you for hosting this despite the passing of the king and this difficult time for the Thai people. The fair was conducted correctly and with the right decorum.” One last one: “The fair was very well organized and professionally arranged. Although it was difficult time for Thai people, the fair was much better than I expected. Will look forward to a conversion rate. I found that many students were looking for master’s programs. It probably helpful for visitors if more universities participate. Very positive.“ Art summed up his feelings by saying, “A heartfelt thank you to all the participants at the recent successful BKK SCF fair held during a most difficult time with the recent passing of our most revered and beloved H.M. the King Rama IX who did so much for our nation of 65 million people. Thanks for being dressed for the occasion, some even wore popular black ribbons. This was probably the one and only Canadian education fair in the world where everyone attending the fair wore black and that would be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion”. Summing up, Art says, “We have seen an increase in the number of inquiries in the last few years and have been invited to a lot of local recruitment activities. Though some have said Thailand is becoming an aging society and the number of students is diminishing, Thai parents see their children’s future education as an investment and many have worries about the state of Thailand’s public education system. The Thai market has many players from various countries, all trying to entice Thai students to study abroad, and they will keep coming, but the only place to be, as I have always said to parents when they are pondering which particular country is best to further their child’s education: ‘It’s “Canada, 100%’”. There’s no doubt that Khun Art and Success Canada have proved to be a successful conduit between the Thai people and the fine education services that Canada has to offer.

SUCCESS CANADA.org / CANADIAN EDUCATION OFFICE www.successcanada.org LINE: successcanada Email: successcanada77@gmail.com March - April 2017


CanCham News

Thailand’s new ice hockey league


There’s a new sports league in town and its rapidly gaining fame and popularity. The Siam Hockey League (SHL) started play in mid-November 2016 and its four member teams (Sport Corner/Titanium; Aware, the Sukhumvit Spitfires and Hooters Nana) will play until late April 2017. As word of the league grows there are plans to expand to five or six squads and maybe even add a second tier for less experienced players. Although the league is primarily composed of expats from countries including Canada, the USA, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, and Switzerland, the referees all are Thai and serve under the capable tutelage of IIHF certified Sakchai “Jeab” Chinanuvantana. The league came about after John Schachnovsky, Scott Murray and Christian Olofsson organized a charity game for the Thai Red Cross in late May featuring NHL defenseman Johnny Oduya. They raised Bt80,000 on the night, but sensing a synergy they decided to try and revive the expat hockey league, formerly known as the Thai World Hockey League (TWHL), which had lain dormant since April of 2015. The three took the titles of President, Vice-President and Secretary, respectively, eventually adding Alex Manton as Administrator; Alasdair Fawcett as Treasurer, Pratch Siridhara as Head of Marketing and Jeab as Referee-inChief. They decided to make it a non-profit league, setting out to secure four team sponsors putting any extra revenue they earned back into the league, thereby making it cheaper for players to join the league. They also set out to make sure that the talent was divided evenly on all squads; consisting of 13 skaters and 1 goalie per team, aged 16 and above. Another 20 skaters are listed as substitute players, filling in for those traveling, injured or in other ways unable to play on any given game night



The 20-game schedule sees matches primarily played on Sunday nights at 8:30 and 9:30pm but there is the occasional Monday and Thursday night game. All games are played at “The Rink” on the 7th floor or the Central Grand Rama 9 shopping mall; admission is free. A player of the game award is presented after each game, with the deserving winner getting a 400THB voucher for a meal at Rolling Stone Wood Fired Pizza. SHL players also participate in the Thairun Bangkok Ice Hockey League (BIHL), which operates when the SHL doesn’t – from May to September. The players also play weekly pick-up shinny hockey and form the Flying Farang teams that compete in local and regional tournaments held in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Manila and Hong Kong. Another commitment from the SHL League Committee is to be active on

social media and have an online presence throughout the course of the season. Efforts have been made to provide interesting content and quality infographics that will motivate players as well as attract fans and sponsorship. The SHL has even appointed Dom Dumais, a podcaster and vlogger residing in Bangkok, to be the official podcaster of the league. He has in return become a big supporter of the league and his podcasts and interviews with players are fun and very entertaining (http:// www.domdumais.com/shl-standing/).. The SHL Facebook page is packed with high quality photos of the games, its players and the people involved in the ice hockey community in Bangkok. Photo credit: Tadamasa Nagayama For more information http://www.siamhockeyleague.com/ https://www.facebook.com/ Siam-Hockey-LeagueSHL-710630512425060/

EARLY CHILDHOOD OPEN HOUSE March 21 International School Bangkok 10am - 12pm

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Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten - Starting Age 4 (by Sep 1) Information Session - New Learning Space Showcase Meet the Teachers - School Tour - Admissions Introduction

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Celebrating 60 years

of British international education

Every experience is a learning opportunity. Activities such as Residential visits, Model United Nations, the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award programme and access to an incredible variety of extra-curricular activities do more than just take our students out of the classroom. These enrich learning, bolster personal and social development and promote the important attributes of open-mindedness, inquiry and informed risk-taking in our students. 643 Lasalle Road Bangna, Bangkok 10260 BTS Bangna or Bearing www.patana.ac.th admissions@patana.ac.th +66 (0) 2785 2200

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Profile for CanCham Thailand

Voyageur march 2017 8 march  

Voyageur march 2017 8 march