COLUMNS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Family Money

Snap Shot

Modern Medicine

Heart to Heart with Hillary

A Slice of Thai History

Personal Directions

Social Commentary by Khai Khem

Women’s World

Family Money: Trusts are for ordinary folk too! - Part 2

By Leslie Wright,
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.

Last week we started examining how the various types of trusts work and how they can mitigate taxes. The most familiar type of trust for most folk is the ‘Discretionary Trust’.

The Discretionary Trust

No beneficiary has any automatic right to income or capital: the trustees have discretion over both and may have power to accumulate trust income.

A settlor (the original owner of the assets) will usually leave a letter or memorandum of wishes to guide the trustees in the exercise of their discretion - however, a letter of wishes must be a non-binding document, as the settlor must be seen not to have any controlling interest in or disposal of the assets of the trust.

As the beneficiaries are not entitled to the income or capital, inheritance tax is not charged to the trust fund on the death of a discretionary beneficiary (in contrast, there may be an inheritance tax charge on the death of a life tenant, which was discussed last week). Discretionary trusts were used to keep assets within the family while avoiding inheritance tax charges on the death of a family member.

To combat this, UK inheritance tax legislation imposed tax charges on discretionary trusts. A transfer to a discretionary trust is a chargeable transfer that may be subject to 20% inheritance tax charge; discretionary trusts may also be subject to periodic and exit inheritance tax charges.

The inheritance tax charges on discretionary trusts make them unattractive in the typical UK family tax planning context. However, excluded property settlements (as discussed above) fall outside the UK inheritance tax net. An excluded property trust held on discretionary teฟrms is very attractive because it provides the flexibility of a discretionary trust without the punitive inheritance tax charges.

The Accumulation & Maintenance Trust

This is a type of discretionary trust. It has some of the flexibility of a pure discretionary trust with favourable tax treatment. A transfer to an accumulation and maintenance trust is not a chargeable transfer and so there is no 20% inheritance tax charge; further, there are no periodic or exit charges.

To attain accumulation and maintenance trust status the trust must comply with the requirements set out in the UK inheritance tax legislation. The basic requirement is that a person must not be a beneficiary of an accumulation and maintenance trust once they have reached the age of 25 (at which point they must acquire an interest in possession). This is the major distinction between an accumulation and maintenance trust and a pure discretions that apply they are often used by grandparents to provide for their grandchildren.

There is an unpleasant tax charge on accumulation and maintenance trusts intended to discourage them from being used for more than one generation. If the beneficiaries do not share a common grandparent, the trust will incur a 21% inheritance tax charge on its 25th anniversary.

So an accumulation and maintenance trust set up by Major Watkins for his children and grandchildren may be subject to a 21% inheritance tax charge on its 25th anniversary: the reason being that his children and grandchildren do not share a common grandparent.

Bare Trusts (Or Simple Trust)

The beneficiaries are absolutely entitled to the trust property; the legal title to the trust property is held in the name of the trustees (often called nominees). However, the trustees have no duties or powers as such (other than the duty to transfer the assets to the beneficiaries as directed).

In the family tax planning context bare trusts are likely to arise on the termination of an earlier trust. For example, Major Watkins leaves his assets on trust for his wife for life and thereafter for his children absolutely. On his wife’s death the trustees hold the shares on bare trust for the children.

As the children are absolutely entitled to the assets, the trust is transparent for tax purposes (this means that the tax authorities look through the trust and tax the beneficiaries on any income or capital gains rather then the trustees). Bare trusts are often used to hold assets for under-age children.

Offshore Trusts (Non-Resident Trusts)

The residence of the trust depends on where the trustees are resident. The test for residence of a trust under the UK tax legislation differs depending on whether income tax or capital gains tax applies.

Broadly speaking a trust is not UK resident (and therefore termed offshore) if the trustees are not resident in the UK. Offshore trusts are generally used for tax planning reasons. One would therefore expect an offshore trust to be located in a low-tax jurisdiction (particularly the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and certain Caribbean islands such as the Cayman Islands).

However, the residence of the trustees is not the only basis for taxing trusts. The domicile and residence of the settlor and the beneficiaries is also relevant. As a result of progressive changes to the UK tax legislation designed to narrow the benefits of offshore trusts, they are much less attractive in tax planning for the typical UK resident and domiciled family. However, they remain very attractive tax planning tools where the settlor and/or beneficiaries are not resident and/or domiciled in the UK

Protectors

Protectors are sometimes appointed with supervisory or consent powers. For example, the protector’s consent may be required by the trustees before exercising certain powers - such as the distribution of capital. Protectors are principally used in circumstances where the settlor wants a third party to retain some influence over the way the trust is run. The protector may either be the settlor or one or more persons who the settlor trusts to implement his/ her wishes.

Foundations

Foundations are used in civil law jurisdictions such as Liechtenstein and Panama. While foundations and trusts are similar and can be used to achieve similar objectives, they are different creatures. Importantly, they may be subject to different tax treatment.

The broad distinction is that a trust does not have a legal personality of its own: the trustees rather than the trust itself are the owners of the trust assets. In contrast a foundation is a corporate structure with a board of directors; like a company it has legal personality of its own.

More seriously, a foundation is not a recognised entity for UK tax purposes, so that the use of foundations in connection with UK tax planning may have unforeseen tax consequences. For this reason the use of the trust is generally preferred.


Snap Shot: Shoot the Bride (and the Groom)

by Harry Flashman

Shooting weddings is, in my humble opinion, a perfect pain. One very experienced wedding photographer even went so far as to call the craft, “Hours of controlled patience, punctuated by moments of sheer terror and intense bursts of creativity.” However, amateur or professional, you will get roped into photographing at least one wedding in your lifetime. You have been warned.

However, to make it less of a terror, here are some guides to photographing someone else’s ‘big day’. It is because it is someone’s big day that it becomes so important to get it right. Wedding photographers talk about the three P’s - preparation, photography and presentation. From the amateur photographer’s point of view, the first two P’s are the most important, although you should not forget the last one.

Preparation. This is very important and can make your job so much easier. This would include going to the church, temple, registry office or whatever before the great day to see just what you can use as backgrounds, and where you can position the happy couple, and their parents, and their bridesmaids, and their friends, and the neighbourhood dogs and everything else that seems to be in wedding photographs. Just by doing this, you at least will know ‘where’ you can take some photographs.

Preparation also covers talking to the couple and finding out just what they expect to be taken. As pointed out at the beginning, when you take on photographing a wedding, you are taking on a huge responsibility.

Also part of the preparation is to make sure your cameras are functioning properly, so put a roll of film through before the big day. Note too, that I said ‘cameras’ because there is nothing more soul destroying than having a camera fail during an event such as this. Preferably, the second camera will be the same as the first, so that your lenses will be interchangeable. Yes, lenses! You will need a wide angle (say 28 mm), a standard 50 mm and a short telephoto (say 135 mm). The wide angle is needed for the group shots and the standard for couples and the tele for “head hunting”, looking for those great candid shots.

Now comes the actual photography itself. You have already written down all the shots that the couple want, so you can cross them off your list as you go. One series of shots should be taken at the bride’s residence, and this includes the bridesmaids. Many of these will be indoor shots, so do take your flash and bounce the light off the ceiling to soften the effect of the flash burst.

Now you have to scoot to the church or wherever the actual ceremony will be, so you can get the bride outside, ready to walk down the aisle with her father, or whomever is giving the bride away.

With those shots out of the way, now you can go and get the ceremony and I do not recommend that you use the flash for these photographs. For some religions, this is a solemn time and flash bursts are very intrusive.

Cross off the rest of the shots as you cover them - the signing of the register, emerging arm in arm, confetti or rice and then the formal shots of the wedding groups.

After all this, everyone is dying for a beer and head for the reception. However, Mr. or Mrs. Photographer, you must wait a little while yet. There is the ceremony of cutting the cake to be done yet, and photographs of the guests enjoying themselves (other than you).

Having crossed every shot off the list, make for the drinks department. You’ve earned it. After all, you have probably taken around six rolls of film by now!

The final ‘P’ is presentation. Photograph albums are inexpensive, so put the best shots from each series into a couple of albums and present them to the couple as your gift. And as your final job, make the mental resolve to never photograph another wedding as long as you live!


Modern Medicine: Glaucoma - preventable blindness?

by Dr Iain Corness, Consultant

What is the similarity between high blood pressure leading to a stroke and the eye condition called “Glaucoma” which can lead to blindness? The answer is simple - both of these conditions are “silent” in the fact they do not produce symptoms on their own till very late in the piece, and secondly, both of these conditions can be detected by simple testing, and both respond well to treatment.

So what exactly is glaucoma? In simple terms it is a build up of pressure inside the eye, which eventually pressurizes the optic nerve and causes it to malfunction. The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibres that connect the retina, the light sensitive membrane in the back of your eye with the visual centres in the brain. If this pathway degenerates, so does your vision. Glaucoma is the cause of 10% of blindness in the USA.

The fluid pressure build-up in the eye comes from poor function in the ‘drain’ which is a mesh of tissue where the iris (the coloured part) and the cornea meet. If the ‘drain’ blocks for any reason, then the pressure can build, until it becomes so high it produces pressure symptoms on the functioning of the optic nerve.

There are various types of glaucoma, but the commonest by far is called Open Angle Glaucoma and covers about 80% of all cases of glaucoma. It is also more prevalent among the descendants of African races over the age of 40 years, or amongst people with a family history of glaucoma, or anyone over the age of 60. The condition affects both eyes and comes on very gradually, with little or no symptoms initially.

Narrow Angle Glaucoma accounts for around 10% of the cases, and this time, it is the Asians who have the greatest incidence, especially those of Chinese origin, with the Asian “short” eyeball. This generally comes on much quicker and often will only affect one eye. This condition is an ocular emergency.

The final 10% of cases comes from a condition we call Secondary Glaucoma. This happens after another condition, such as diabetes, tumours or infection can block up the ‘drain’ hole. Some cases arise when steroid eye drops are used, which shows again the dangers of ‘self-prescribing’.

In the majority of cases, and after a long period of time, the patient begins to notice that the edges of the visual fields are going, until it is like looking through a tube or tunnel. The deterioration continues from there and next up is the white stick and the Labrador.

Detection of the condition, before it gets to the stage of partial blindness, is the most important factor. The testing for the increased pressure in glaucoma is called tonometry and is painless and easily carried out by the eye specialist. Those at risk should have the test done every year after the age of 40, and for the rest of us, we can probably leave it till we get to 60 - but the choice is yours if you want to commence testing earlier.

The treatment includes special eye drops and surgery is also an option, to open up the ‘drain’ hole using a laser. However, the eye drops generally have to be continued as well.

So now you should add tonometry testing for glaucoma to your annual check-up list which includes blood pressure testing and cholesterol levels, mammograms (for the ladies) and prostate checks for the gents.


Heart to Heart with Hillary

Dear Hillary,

Utilities, utilities, utilities! I do not understand the systems here at all. We have had the water cut off from the house twice and the electricity once, all because I do not understand when and how the bills come. I am quite sure we did not receive at least two of them, but when I tried to explain this at the Water Department I got nowhere - and had to pay to get re-connected. The latest injustice is the telephone. We got a bill to show that we were 2,800 baht in credit and we owed nothing. The next day, the phone was cut off! A wasted half day at the telephone department ensued where they told me I had not paid a 300 baht bill the previous month. This left me trying to explain that if we were 2,800 baht in credit this month, how could we owe 300 baht at the same time? All to no avail again. The only way I was going to get the phone reconnected was to pay the 300 baht, plus a re-connection fee! What can we do?

Bills, bills, bills

Dear Bills, bills, bills,

Hillary feels for you. Really I do. The bills and accounts system is very difficult for a foreigner to understand, but if you just remember that last month’s bills are quite separate from this month’s and you have to square off each one individually, then life will become easier. I also suggest that you see your bank and get them to pay the utilities bills directly, then you do not have to waste time lurking at the letterbox, waiting for the utilities bills to come. Hillary was even caught out the other day, when a bill came for my mobile phone, to be paid on a Monday. On the Saturday, two days before, the phone was cut off. Yes, you guessed it - I hadn’t paid the previous month! And yes, I too had to pay for a re-connection.

Dear Hillary,

My Thai wife has started being very secretive about the housekeeping money. I am sure she is fiddling the grocery bills and I am also very sure she has started to sneak the odd thousand baht from my wallet when I am asleep. I also think that she seems to have less jewelry than before, but when I asked her where her bracelet is she gets very defensive and says she is having it cleaned or repaired. I am sure she is not having an affair, as she is always home at nights with me, so what can I do to check? Where is the money going? I need your help here, Hillary, as I do not like being suspicious. It’s not in my nature.

Suspicious Sam

Dear Suspicious Sam,

I’m afraid you have good reason to be suspicious, Petal. This will most likely be money that is being used to pay gambling debts. These can range from a few thousand baht lost at card games, to hundreds of thousands of baht to major gambling syndicates. Unfortunately a number of foreign husbands have suddenly found that the house that was put in his wife’s name has been lost to a gambling den owner. This is something you should be aware of and find out as soon as possible just where the money is going. Do not let this carry on. Gambling debts tend to accumulate very quickly. You are going to have to confront your wife on this one. Sorry.

Dear Hillary,

I am a single male, so I do get around town a bit. The other night I saw my boss’s wife, at a boys club. She was there with another woman and they seemed to be drunk. They bought a few rounds of drinks for some of the boys. They were laughing and having a good time and the boys looked as if they were having a good time too. I did go over and say hello, but she ignored me and went back to the boy she was sitting with. The problem for me is whether I should say anything to her, or to my boss? I see his wife every week as she comes in to supervise the pays. What do you think I should do, Hillary?

The Spy

Dear Spy,

You have been seeing a lot more than is good for you, Petal. Have you thought why you want to get involved in something that does not concern you? If the boss’ wife goes to bars, then this is something between the boss and his wife, and not you. All that you will do is put your job on the line, if something goes wrong. I wonder if your real reason for wanting to tell your boss is because you were rejected by the woman in question? If she doesn’t play games with you, then you will make life difficult for her and stop her little games too? Stay well clear of all this, Mr. Spy and try and pick up women in other bars that are safer for you. Getting between a man and his wife is dangerous. You have been warned.


A Slice of Thai History: The Thai ‘Alamo’: Defence of Bang Rajan, 1766

by Duncan Stearn

In the annals of Thai history, the defence of the camp at Bang Rajan against the invading Burmese army in 1766 stands alongside the equally folkloric efforts of the sisters Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon in Phuket in 1785 and, later, of Khunying Mo in the Laotian invasion of 1827-1828.

In July 1765, the Burmese launched yet another invasion of Thailand. Coming from the north, where they had earlier occupied the Laotian city of Luang Prabang, the Burmese swept through Lampang, Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, and Nakhon Sawan. Thai sources claim the Burmese army numbered around 100,000 men, although this is considered doubtful.

Similarly, in September, a second Burmese army (also claimed to be 100,000 troops, but almost certainly considerably less) left Tavoy and invaded Thailand from the west, taking Phetburi and Ratchaburi, arriving outside Ayutthaya almost unhindered about February 1766.

The northern Burmese army, approaching Ayutthaya via Angthong, 30 kilometres to the west of the Thai capital, set up camp at Viseschaicharn, an open area on a canal that led to the Chao Phraya River.

The Burmese troops, according to the Thais, proceeded to harass local villagers, demanding food, stealing valuables, and molesting the women. Unable to obtain aid from Ayutthaya itself, a band of six village chiefs decided to organise resistance to the invaders.

Four of the men came from a village in Singaburi, the other two were from Viseschaicharn. After killing a few Burmese soldiers, they fled to the village of Bang Rajan.

Bang Rajan was a natural defensive position. It was known for its fertile land and abundance of food, was flanked by a wide canal that gave it protection from the Burmese camp at Viseschaicharn, and could be reinforced from Suphanburi.

The six chiefs invited Phra Dhammachot, an abbot from Suphanburi, to join their cause. Revered as a man of learning, and, it was whispered, magic powers, the abbot travelled to Bang Rajan.

Within a short time the number of defenders ensconced in Bang Rajan had grown to 400 men, and a further five local chiefs had also entered the camp to join the original six. One of the chiefs was a renowned archer, another, named Nai Thongmend rode into battle atop a water buffalo.

The Burmese commander, Nemiew, got wind of the growth of the resistance and determined to nip it in the bud, ordered his heavily armed troops into action.

The first assault against Bang Rajan commenced around May 1766. Despite a superiority in numbers and armaments, the Burmese were repulsed. Over the next three months, the Burmese attacked six more times. On each occasion they were beaten back and every time more Thais arrived to bolster the defences.

As a counter, Nemiew brought up reinforcements and placed Sukee, a Mon-Thai, at the head of his forces. Sukee had lived for a long time in Thailand and was well aware of the Thai style of fighting.

After making certain that all possibility of communication between Bang Rajan and Ayutthaya was effectively halted, Sukee moved his forces closer to the Thai village and, rather than engage in frontal assaults, started skirmishing operations on the flanks.

The attacks continued for a number of days, inflicting a growing number of casualties on the defenders. In frustration, Nai Thongmend, allegedly drunk, gathered a small Thai force and ventured beyond the lines to attack a Burmese camp. Nai Thongmend rode his water buffalo deep into the Burmese lines, but a counter-attack saw him cut down along with a number of his troops. It was the first major reverse the Thai defenders had suffered.

The Burmese tightened their grip by shooting anyone who attempted to bring food and other supplies into Bang Rajan and increased their shelling of the encampment. Additionally, the Burmese started to dig a tunnel under the canal in an attempt to get behind the defenders. The Thais sent frantic pleas to Ayutthaya to come to their aid, but the capital was heavily invested and unable to raise a relief force.

Finally, after a siege lasting five months, the Burmese launched an all-out assault, breaching the defences and overrunning the camp. All 10 remaining chiefs were killed or executed, as were most of the defenders. Very few managed to escape and many other captives were made slaves. The abbot, Phra Dhammachot, disappeared. It is not known whether he was killed in the final assault or if he managed to escape.

The story of Bang Rajan has become to the Thais what the siege of the Alamo (1836) is to Texans and, by extension, the United States: a symbol of determination and heroism against overwhelming odds.


Personal Directions: Our ability to think is our greatest asset

by Christina Dodd

In my travels recently, I took a break and set myself a task to purchase some additional crockery items, something I had been meaning to do for some time. Whilst wandering through the store I was overwhelmed by the selection and variety of designs and colours. I had a picture in my mind of what I had to look for in order to have everything matching in my existing set. But the more I went up this aisle and the next aisle, I became increasingly indecisive. I was aware that this simple task was taking considerable time and it was creating more frustration than pleasure!

Finally I took a moment to step back and look at what I was trying to do – maybe this would help me out. Then it came to me. I was limiting my task by having everything matching as a set. Did I really need to do this? What would it matter if the set was not a perfect set? And what is a perfect set anyway! All I wanted was to have something functional and attractive. Did this mean that only a set could achieve this?

We are so conditioned in our way of thinking that it becomes a limiting factor to our creativity and productivity. Working within frameworks, to a degree, is desirable and is part of our existence and structure of life. But there is a danger in this if we allow it to suffocate our thinking.

So many activities we undertake every day in our daily lives become routine, dull and uninteresting, because we cause them to be that way. So many tasks and projects that we perform in our businesses or professional lives can also be seen in the same light. When we approach a task with a limited mindset and thinking, we become trapped in conformity and this, I truly believe, hinders the thought process and the end results.

My example of purchasing crockery items demonstrates this point so simply. And we are all experiencing this process in our lives every day in many different ways. Take a few moments to think about it and you will surprise yourself with just how many examples of this you can find.

The power of thought – thinking – is one of our greatest assets. We were born with a magnificent tool with which to carve the paths of our lives and that tool is our brain! But do we really appreciate the value of its ability? Do we ever stop and realize the immense power of this gift? We all walk around and live our lives taking for granted that the organ within our heads will always allow us to function. It will always be there, toiling away like a well-tuned engine enabling us to do the things we like to do. For a moment have you ever thought what it would be like without it? If you had no power of thought – what would life be like? Fairly dramatic answer isn’t it!

And what do we do to keep this magnificent asset in good condition? The moment we put on weight, we have to diet. The moment we cut our finger, we have to put a dressing on it. The moment we have raised cholesterol, we have to attend to it. But do we regard our mental health in the same way as our physical health? Do we give it the same amount of importance and attention?

We all have one brain. Not two. Just one. And there are no spare parts that can be easily plugged in and played. This “gift” inside each and every one of us gives us life. It is time that we understood this more seriously and not only the fact that it gives us life in the physical sense, but it allows us to be who we are!

Sometimes in my training programs I ask participants to try to get in touch with this situation. I ask them to close their eyes and try to imagine as hard as they can what it would be like without life. It can be very unsettling for some as suddenly they can see a very dark picture. It takes a bit of jolting for most of us to appreciate things of value. For more often than not, we value things mostly when they are gone. And then it is too late.

With the ability to think we can do and achieve so much more in our lives. And the way that we think can have a very powerful impact on everything.

What you think, you begin to feel

What you feel, you begin to do

What you do, you begin to have or become.

Try memorizing these words and saying them to yourself in a quiet moment of your day. Repeat them in a positive and firm voice several times so that you can take hold of the energy that they create and their significance. They have purpose and meaning and are extremely potent in their message. For many people I have trained, they have become a part of their daily regimen.

Just as we need nourishment for our bodies to function, our brains and mental/spiritual health also need nourishment. Without the right kind of sustenance and nourishment, our ability to think can be greatly affected. But when we talk about nourishment, to put it very plainly, there is physical food (for our bodies) and spiritual food (for our minds). We can very easily obtain the “physical food” that we need to exist and to live. What about the “spiritual food” that we need – can it be bought over the counter or found so easily?

In order to nourish our spiritual well-being which affects and influences our thinking, what do we need? What are the essentials? What would you say is the basic ingredient that we all need in order to have a sense of well-being, purpose and meaning, and happiness in life? Take some time and give it some thought and I’ll catch up on it in my column next week. Until then, have a great week!

For more details and information on corporate, specialist and personal growth training, please contact me at [email protected]


Social Commentary by Khai Khem

Will Bangkok’s mafia ‘snitch list’ actually have all the names on it?

Many readers must have had an experience of what is referred to as d้jเ vu. The phenomenon is akin to “having seen it all before”. In real life terms it most likely is a feeling that you know what is coming next because you can spot certain signs that signal a repeat performance of what has happened before. Recently I have been getting the feeling that Pattaya is going through another rough patch in terms of its unflattering reputation amongst non-residents, tourists and commercial visitors. Regrettably, no matter how many well-intentioned plans are on the drawing board and how high the pile grows of projects awaiting approval and budget which would raise our standards in the eyes of the international community, we seem to be stumbling on the slippery road to progress.

So are all our attempts to repair our city’s tawdry image ending up as futile? Not exactly. Our city is growing. That is, by most standards, a good thing. It means that Pattaya is attracting more people because it now offers more. Are we keeping up with the demands an increasing population requires? No way. Fast-growing cities around the world are all pretty much suffering from the same dilemma. Does that mean we should continue to offer excuses as to why we cannot keep up? Hey! - Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but guess what? Nobody cares about our lame explanations about why Pattaya is what it is.

We are suffering from what I call the “push me-pull me” syndrome. The hardworking and conscientious sector of our city’s residents is pushing for social and economic reforms. This group makes up more than just a handful of very committed residents in the private and public sector who are working their butts off to make Pattaya a better place to live and a more attractive venue for visitors to enjoy. This sector numbers in the thousands, whether or not their names appear in print or they receive the slightest publicity about their efforts. And they don’t just pay lip-service to this commitment; they invest their money, time and energy behind the scenes because they believe in our city’s future. This group is the vehicle which is pulling us into the future and is dedicated to the betterment of our society. But they cannot do it alone, and there are forces which are pushing them out of their sphere of positive accomplishments.

Not long ago, Bangkok’s central government implemented a campaign to wipe out corruption and its long entrenched destructive decimation of Thai society. The mafia ‘snitch list’ appeals to the general public to provide information about the bad guys who threaten, extort and murder innocent victims who are involved in businesses or occupations which are typically held hostage to ‘dark influences’.

Ordinary people are probably afraid to blow the whistle on gangsters who would just as soon shoot them dead as not. The honest citizens of our community have no assurance that they will be protected if and when they inform on ‘dark influences’. Even law enforcement officers are not immune to intimidation and assassination. So what chance do we mere mortals have against the threat of mayhem and/or death if we inform on what is euphemistically referred to as ‘influential people’ who undermine the best interests of Thai society with corruption and wield such power that they are untouchable and above the law?

The USA has a scheme called the ‘witness protection program’. Will Thailand implement something similar which protects informants against retaliation from powerful criminals? The program in the USA is not fool-proof, and to say it is devastatingly disruptive to the lives of those who bear witness against gangsters is an understatement - even when it works.

Thailand is a small country and to relocate people and give them new identities and set them up as wards of the federal government at the state’s expense is not a viable plan. So how do we protect those who ‘squeal’? Do we shave their heads and sequester them in monasteries, ship them off to live in neighboring counties, or just leave to their fate and the luck of the draw? Like the war on drugs, the war on corruption is going to produce a lot of blood-letting. We can’t ask individuals to step forward and risk their lives without a viable plan to protect them.


Woman's World: That golden glow Part 1

by Lesley Warner

This week I decided to give a little advice to those younger readers of my column. You may remember that I mentioned my daughters’ total disregard for their skin. I have since discovered that they can now go to the beauty parlour for a sun bed session that only takes 6 minutes using fluorescent lights that produce high intensity ultraviolet rays. When I used to go (yes I have done it too) years ago it was a chore, lying like the filling in a toasted sandwich maker for 20-30 minutes. I even know people that use a sunbed to get a perfectly even tan that live in Thailand!

Not very attractive but absolutely necessary.

What these golden beauties don’t realize is that the sun bed is even more dangerous than the sun. The ultraviolet rays from a sunbed are often much stronger than those of the sun, increasing the chances of blistering, premature ageing of the skin and skin cancer. Researchers maintain that twenty minutes on a sunbed equals approximately four hours in the sun.

Sunlight contains a mix of UVA and UVB radiation and some of this is filtered out by the ozone layer. Sunbeds produce mainly UVA radiation, which penetrates deeper into your skin, and they produce less UVB radiation.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the majority of people using sunbeds are less likely to use a suncream to protect their skin against UV radiation. Most reputable beauty parlours, or fitness centers that hire out sunbeds will supply goggles, but one needs to remember that they are absolutely essential. If you do not use goggles the combination of UVA and UVB can result in burning of the cornea in the eyes. Long-term exposure can result in irreversible damage and cataracts.

Sunbeds can also speed up thinning of the skin, the development of wrinkles and fine lines, and many other changes that we usually associate with ageing.

Some people will be more susceptible to skin damage than others. These are a few examples:

• Under 16s

• Fair, sensitive skin that burns easily or tans slowly

• Freckled skin or people with red hair

• Skin with a large number of moles

• Medication which may make the skin sensitive to sunlight

• A medical condition that is worsened by sunlight

• Relatives that have suffered with skin cancer

For the last 3 years I have been lecturing about the dangers of laying in the sun, well recently I have discovered some of the benefits of sunlight.

I am always a little confused with the constant changes in the advice given to us by scientists. They seem constantly to contradict themselves from one year to the next. Do they even really know? Now after years of being told never to expose yourself to too much sun it seems these oracles feel that sunlight may benefit us!

I found this contradictory paragraph rather difficult to swallow. “Scientists believe sunlight may reduce the risk of several types of cancer. Recent studies have found that sunlight can help protect you from cancer of the breast, colon, ovary, bladder, womb, stomach, and prostrate gland.

Confused? Yes, so am I, so I’ll still stick by my own rule “Everything in moderation,” and check with your doctor if in doubt.

I’ll give you some alternative ideas for tanning next week.