Pride event to span over five days

Government interested in holding more Gay activities

Pride event to span over five days
Participants at a Monday event to announce the celebrations of Pride Month at a Bangkok guesthouse. ( Photo: Apichart Jinakul )

The government, along with the personal and civil sector, will sponsor a five- day Pride event in Bangkok to present Thailand’s readiness to become Asia’s “rainbow” capital.

The organizers stated at a press conference on Monday that this year’s Bangkok Pride Festival would take place with the design” Celebration of Love.”

According to Ann Chumaporn, founder and president of Bangkok Pride rally, this year’s festivities– which include a parade, different concerts, people activities and the Bangkok Pride Forum– may run from May 31 to June 4.

” The reason we’re hosting]the event ] over five times is to showcase Thailand’s capacity to host bigger activities, like the 2025 Inter Pride Conference and the 2030 World Pride parade”, she said, adding the function will also enjoy Thailand’s force to become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise same- sexual organizations while raising awareness of other problems affecting LGBTQ and other marginalised individuals and communities.

She stated that Srettha Thavisin, the prime minister, has confirmed his participation in the Pride Parade this year on June 1. The parade will be held from 3- 6pm.

Responding to an alert by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, which warned of a possible attack on LGBTQ individuals during Pride month celebrations, Ms Ann said the organisers have always placed a lot of emphasis on security, as LGBTQ individuals often become a target of hate, especially in Asia.

She added that the Royal Thai Police and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will work together to secure the occasion.

She said around 100, 000 people took part in the event last year. This year, she said, at least 200, 000 participants are expected to turn up at the event.

The parade will begin at the National Stadium and wrap up at the intersection of Ratchaprasong and Ratchaprasong.

Thapanee Kiatphaiboon, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand ( TAT ), said LGBTQ travellers contribute significantly to tourism revenue, noting they spend 40 times more than the general spender.

This year, there will be pride events in 30 cities across Thailand, including Chiang Mai and Koh Samui in Surat Thani.

” However, in order to be a Pride destination, all of the needs of LGBTQ individuals must be met. We’d like to be one of the supporters of the community”,

At a recent seminar, Tourism and Sports Minister Sermsak Pongpanich stated that improving access to public resources and services is a top priority for LGBTQ rights as well.

He claimed that the Pride celebration will help Thailand meet its goal of producing 3. 5 trillion baht in tourism-related revenue by 2024 and will help further cement its reputation as a fair, welcoming, and progressive nation.

He said,” Our government views LGBTQ people not as a burden but as an important force that could help Thailand advance in all areas of life.”

Mr Sermsak also confirmed the ministry’s officials will join the parade this year to show their support for the nation’s LGBTQ communities.

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Elon Musk made his first appearance on the Indonesian island of Bali on May 19 in preparation for the anticipated establish of SpaceX’s Starlink internet service, which the Indonesian government hopes may increase internet access and access to medical services in remote areas of the sprawling island. According to aContinue Reading

Golden Gate Ventures lands first close of inaugural US$100 mil MENA fund in Qatar

  • Second near of account backed by some of Qatar’s most important people
  • Oman was drawn to VC firms because of their track record in creating SEA startup ecosystem.

Michael Lints, Partner at Golden Gate Ventures and Hussain Abdulla, Senior Advisor at Golden Gate Ventures.

Golden Gate Ventures, a venture capital fund founded by Silicon Valley natives, announced its first US$ 100 million ( RM468 million ) MENA fund at the Qatar Economic Forum held from May 14 to 16 in Doha. The second close of US$ 20 million ( RM93.66 million ) is backed by anchor investor, the multiple- faceted Al Khor Holding with 60 years of history, the Al Attiya Group known frequently for its tremendous help for developing local organizations, and Sheikh Jassim Jabor Al Thani.

The news of the first tight supported by the arches of Qatar’s private business community is a significant step forward in Golden Gate Ventures ‘ efforts to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the MENA area. The bank combines Golden Gate Ventures ‘ extensive experience with developing startups ecosystems in Silicon Valley and Asia with the collective local effect of its owners.

Oman was drawn to the VC firm because of their track record in developing the SEA business ecosystem. The first global venture capital fund to be established and managed in Qatar is the Golden Gate Ventures MENA Fund I. Michael Lints, Partner at Golden Gate Ventures, has moved to Qatar to strengthen the firm’s MENA responsibility.

The US$ 100 million MENA fund may focus on powering startups in vital sectors such as alternate energy, clean technology, B2B Artificial Intelligence, and energy- related strong tech, on top of stalwarts like fintech, healthtech and edtech. In these areas, SEA has seen huge growth and has launched some well-known Investments in the last ten years. The relationship between MENA and SEA is expected to have a multiplier impact on their progress, and its direction is anticipated to follow that of SEA.

Qatar has been building up its financial prowess and startup ecosystem in recent years with a friendly government, a powerful push for financial diversification, a pro- business environment, and large investment into the startup space. These tactics closely resemble those used in Singapore, which helped the city-state’s startup ecosystem <a href="https://www.startupblink.com/startup-ecosystem/singapore”>rank first in the SEA and second globally.

Qatar is emerging as a growing hub for innovation, and MENA is emerging as a shining example of progress. I remember when Golden Gate Ventures established itself ahead of the other VCs that came after in Singapore in 2011. We see a real opportunity to help startups move from one region to the next by creating a golden corridor of growth between SEA and MENA. We connected Silicon Valley to SEA close to 15 years ago, and now we do so with a presence in all the major global startup hubs,” said Vinnie Lauria, founding partner at Golden Gate Ventures.

In fact, several high- profile startups on Golden Gate Ventures ‘ portfolio have expanded to the Gulf, among which are CodaPay, Stripe and Multiplier. The firm’s extensive CEO exploratory trips over the past 18 months, which have introduced SEA startups to the Gulf markets and helped them build their social capital, have given them this ability to scale to the Gulf from SEA and Singapore.

Golden Gate Ventures ‘ SEA-MENA partnership began with QInvest, a state fund with Qatar as an LP in its Asia fund, in the early days. As the SEA ecosystem matures and the MENA ecosystem grows as a potential global competitor, the firm anticipates more activity between the regions.

” Golden Gate Ventures has spent close to a decade curating our networks in the Middle East and developing our long-term strategy for the region with the aim of growing both SEA and MENA together synergistically. We have connected the startup ecosystems in MENA and the SEA and hope to expand this. There are opportunities for startups to scale between the regions and a number of complementary growth areas, such as climate tech, health tech, and edtech,” said Michael.

Golden Gate Ventures also announced the launch of its Qatar startup ecosystem primer,” Qatar Rising: Where ambition and capital converge,” at the company’s announcement of the MENA Fund I. It serves as an industry primer and provides an in-depth analysis of how various factors, including the Gulf state’s robust economic policy, investment climate, startup ecosystem, talent pool, and cultural influence, have all come together.

Golden Gate Ventures has seen remarkable growth over the past two years, expanding its footprint with the opening of its Vietnam operations in 2022 to capitalize on its position as a leading global economy, opening an office in Saudi Arabia in 2023 to exploit opportunities in the Middle East-Southeastern Asia corridor, and adding a New York presence recently to assist portfolio companies in raising funds from the region.

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IIB strengthens partnerships with GBS Malaysia, iTrain Asia and MDEC through GBS Iskandar @ Medini

  • Aims to achieve a specific funding of US$ 212 mil by 2030 in Medini
  • Programme has garnered US$ 552 mil in opportunities, created 6, 500 jobs in Medini since 2016

Idzham Mohd Hashim, President/CEO of IIB (4th from left) and GBS Iskandar growth partners strengthening the GBS ecosystem in Medini, Iskandar Puteri, Johor to reinforce IIB’s commitment to position Medini as the region’s first net zero carbon CBD 2030 focusing o

Through two important Memoranda of Understanding ( MOUs ) with GBS Malaysia and iTrain Asia, Iskandar Investment Berhad ( IIB ) has expanded its partnership with Global Business Services ( GBS ) Iskandar@Medini. Additionally, it collaborates with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation ( MDEC ) to enhance its GBS ecosystem in Medini, Iskandar Puteri. &nbsp,

This program reinforces IIB’s devotion to place Medini as the state’s second net zero carbon CBD by 2030 focusing on modernization, innovation, and GBS, the company said, in a statement. &nbsp,

It added that in line with this commitment, the firm aims to achieve a target investment of US$ 212 million ( RM1 billion ) by 2030 in Medini. According to the investment target, Medini’s position as Johor’s online and innovation hub will also be supported by the creation of at least 2,500 jobs in the modern economy sector.

Idzham Mohd Hashim, President/CEO of IIB, stated,” The GBS Iskandar programme has achieved US$ 552 million ( RM2.6 billion ) of investments and 6, 500 jobs in Medini since its inception in 2016. As we embark on the next chapter of the GBS Iskandar initiative, IIB reaffirms our commitment to fostering growth and innovation within Malaysia’s GBS sector” .&nbsp,

He added that Medini’s GBS Iskandar’s success is attributed to its strategic location, which serves as a gateway for multi-modal vehicles with smooth connection by property, air, and sea. &nbsp,

Medini, which is 40 minutes from Singapore and is situated between two major seaports and three international airports, offers unmatched availability and administrative advantages, making it an ideal location for GBS companies to prosper. By leveraging on mix collaborations within the double helix framework of industry, academia, government and civil society, we are poised to help tailored solutions spanning incentives, proper initiatives, talent development, and government liaison efforts, ensuring the GBS companies thrive in Medini’s attractive landscape”, Idzham said.

By leveraging Medini’s proper place and friendly ecosystem, the collaboration between IIB and GBS Malaysia aims to establish the region’s top regional hub for GBS procedures. This partnership demonstrates our shared responsibility to positioning Malaysia at the vanguard of the world’s modern business.

Additionally, the partnership between IIB and iTrain Asia focuses on empowering and mentoring initiatives designed to help businesses in the GBS industry advance the benefit chain through AI, automation, and sustainability initiatives, ensuring the workforce is equipped with the most recent knowledge that is necessary for success in the modern economy.

In order to make Medini a top destination for high-value jobs and sustainable growth, this collaboration will foster an environment conducive to continuous learning and innovation in order to meet the changing needs of GBS companies.

The upcoming partnership with MDEC, which aims to encourage foreign direct investments for the GBS industry, is anticipated. This partnership, slated to be announced in Q3 2024, aims to target new companies seeking a strategic and well- supported environment for expansion.

Mahadhir Aziz, CEO of MDEC said,” Our partnership with IIB underscores MDEC’s steadfast commitment to driving digital transformation, fostering talent development, and boosting economic growth in the GBS sector. This sets the stage for Johor to become a key destination for global investments” .&nbsp,

He added that this collaboration is in line with Malaysia’s national strategic initiative to advance Malaysia’s digital infrastructure, provide comprehensive business support, and strengthen Malaysia’s position as Asean’s digital hub.

Chairman of GBS Malaysia, Anthony Raja Devadoss, emphasised,” The strategic partnership with IIB marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts to grow the GBS industry in Malaysia. We are committed to unlocking Medini’s full potential and positioning Malaysia as a powerhouse in the global GBS landscape by leveraging strategic advantages and creating a dynamic ecosystem for growth and innovation.

In addition, due to its favorable environment for innovation and learning, Eric Ku, executive director of iTrain Asia, added that” Medini stands as the ideal location for talent development within the GBS sector.” With its strategic positioning as a hub for technology, innovation, and global business services, Medini offers a dynamic ecosystem that fosters collaboration and skill enhancement. It provides an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to upskill and reskill, preparing them to thrive in the digital economy, in combination with the robust support provided by initiatives like the GBS Iskandar. &nbsp, &nbsp,

We are appreciative of our partners and stakeholders for their unwavering support throughout this transformative journey, Idzham once more stated. Together, we are advancing our strategic goals for Medini and supporting the development of the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone. Let us all reaffirm our commitment to making Medini the preferred gateway to Southeast Asia, in the interests of Johor and the country as we move forward.

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Asian central banks to continue gold purchasing | FinanceAsia

Annual demand of gold in 2023 fell by 5 %, compared to that in 2022, to 4, 448 tonnes, excluding over the counter ( OTC ) transactions. According to data from the World Gold Council ( WGC), central banks contributed to 1, 037 tonnes of the gold demand last year, which is the second-highest on record.

In the first fourth of 2024, world gold demand, including OTC, was off 3 % year- on- year to accomplish 1, 238 tonnes, marking the strongest second quarter since 2016. Excluding OTC, first quarter’s demand fell by 5 % to 1, 102 tonnes.

China, India and Singapore were among the Asian markets that added the most to their golden getting during the first quarter, with an increase of 27.06, 18.51 and 6.57 kilograms both. These include both key banks and financial transactions.

The story is also about the skyrocketing metal price, which rose by as much as$ 2,300 per ounce in April and remained at its all-time high despite a minor decline at the beginning of May.

One of the main causes of a rising interest rate in gold is Shaokai Fan, mind of central bankers at WGC, who quoted Shaokai Fan as saying, is because of the confidence in the US Fed’s future rate cuts.

” Gold has reached a new all-time higher thanks to a number of different things. Although interest rate reduction anticipation are most definitely raising interest, he said there is a solid real demand for silver underlying this.

Fan claimed that the central banks that have purchased “historic levels” of silver over the past two centuries have remained significant customers this time. For instance, the curiosity in China is related to the landscape of investors ‘ attempts to expand in response to weak performance in other asset classes.

Retail traders now have greater access to the business. Using distributed ledger technology ( DLT), HSBC in Hong Kong has created the first bank-issued tokenized gold. It is supported by vaults in London that are owned by HSBC.

Flee for surety

At the end of next year, market was first expecting nearly six 25- basis- point cuts within a 12- month timeframe. Christian Scherrmann, US economist at DWS, expects two rate cuts by the US Fed by the end of the year. Curbing inflation in the world’s largest economy has proved to be slower than expected, with the consumer price index ( CPI ) for March seeing a 0.4 % month- over- month core inflation increase.

Lower interest rates generally benefit the gold market because they lower the opportunity cost of holding gold, according to Fan. In a more volatile environment, the team anticipates inflows into gold exchange-traded funds ( ETFs ).

In Q1 2024, the global gold ETF holdings dropped by 114 tonnes, primarily as a result of an outflow from European and North American funds.

Asian gold ETFs, on contrast, witnessed an increase in assets under management by 16 % to$ 11 billion, mainly generated by participants in China, due to a weakening yuan and other domestic assets.

Meanwhile, global geopolitical risks are rising: tensions between China and the US are stillrounding, and global supply chains and general market sentiment are being affected by ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Gold, as a’ safe have n’, has therefore attracted wide interest.

The People’s Bank of China purchased more gold from the central bank in Asia in 2023, according to Fan. The PBOC currently has 2, 262.45 tonnes of gold reserves, followed by Japan and India, which have each over 800 tonnes.

The PBOC has added gold for the first 18 months in a row, but the price increase has slowed as the price rises have slowed.

The Reserve Bank of India’s ( RBI ) gold reserves, as of March this year, saw a 34 % increase compared to that in March 2019, reaching a total holding of 822 tonnes of gold. In addition, the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s ( MAS ) gold reserves increased by 2 tons in the first quarter.

The shift in geopolitical attitudes following the Russian’s attempted invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions placed on Russia’s foreign exchange reserves have resulted in a significant increase in central bank gold buying, according to Fan.

” We anticipate that central banks will continue to be gold’s main sources of income this year,” he continued. The US Fed’s rate cuts decisions, however, will still have the biggest immediate impact on the price of gold.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.

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Indonesia's Prabowo reiterates 'Asian Way' to defuse tension: Al Jazeera interview

JAKARTA: As Indonesia’s president- choose Prabowo Subianto prepares to enter workplace in October, he looks set to take a more confrontational stance in international policy, saying that diplomacy, negotiations, and the” Eastern way” have helped to relieve tension. Prabowo, 72, won February’s public vote by a large percentage along withContinue Reading

'Burning furnace' purge stoking new faith in Vietnam - Asia Times

In the blistering oven of Vietnam’s anti- problem campaign, the flames have raged strongly, engulfing Communist Party officials like dried tinder. Some people were quickly sacked, while people saw their social occupations smoldering beneath the surface.

First, this circumstance appeared to convey a management problems with the termination of five out of 18 Politburo members, two presidents, one National Assembly chair and two prime ministers. However, Vietnam’s improved economic prospects are inevitably boosted by less corruption.

Nguyen Phu Trong, the 80- yr- old secretary- standard of Vietnam’s Communist Party, has relatively spared none in tackling the state’s widespread level of corruption.

The foreign investors who benefit from the reduced costs of conducting business, simplified administrative procedures, and the dissolution of ensnared, frequently crooked interest groups are among the beneficiaries of his “burning furnace” law to boost transparency and good governance.

In Vietnam’s political system, the principles of “democratic authoritarianism” and” shared leadership, personal duty” remain as important pillars governing the organization and functioning of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

The 13th National Congress passed a resolution outlining the nation’s developmental trajectory for the 2021- 2030 period. The high-ranking officials ‘ rotation neither alters the flow of business nor departs from Vietnam’s policy direction.

Instead, it advances the implementation of crucial policies that the Congress ratified and strengthens the political system.

After all, Vietnam’s dynamic economy, the envy of all of Southeast Asia, has been on a stable growth path, driven by robust domestic demand and export- oriented manufacturing for over two decades.

Many economists predict that Vietnam will join ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion in achieving rapid economic growth, making the acclaimed” Asian Tiger” the 20th-largest economy in the world by 2050.

Trong’s swift and defensible actions in the removal of discredited Party officials merit praise. The Party is well-known for its commitment to promoting a conducive and equitable business environment, including for international investors.

Vietnam recently vigorously pursued the property developer Van Thinh Phat Group. Although the US$ 12 billion fraud scandal has sparked some immediate and long-term effects and gained some attention in the public and abroad, it will ultimately encourage a more healthy financial system.

Truong My Lan, chairwoman of Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, was sentenced to death on April 11 by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court. Photo: X Screengrab

In response to the scandal, which saw the chairwoman of Van Thinh Phat Group receive a death sentence for her role in the massive banking fraud, the State Bank of Vietnam has taken action quickly to reassure depositors, improve control, and improve transparency in the banking system.

Building on earlier efforts to combat corruption, the burning furnace campaign builds on them. More than 800 corruption cases have been investigated and prosecuted by the Central Anti-Corruption Steering Committee ( CACSC), which was founded in 2013, according to a study.

That does not, however, mean that politically connected businesses gain more from the anti-corruption campaign than non-connected ones. However, recent analysis has revealed that the anti-corruption initiative is generally boosting investor efficiency in the public sector.

The problem, to be sure, is n’t new: the concept of corruption was recognized officially in the documents of the 6th National Congress in 1986. Then, corruption was viewed as a social evil that could be eradicated through strict inspection procedures.

Vietnam had signed the UNCAC by 2003. Although the nation had already ratified the Corruption Action Plan for Asia, the process was finished in 2009.

According to the 2021 Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) survey completed by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the rate of businesses paying unofficial fees or what is sometimes referred to as “red envelopes”, had dropped from 70 % in 2006 to 41.4 % in 2021.

The Communist Party’s standing both domestically and abroad has been strengthened by Trong’s most recent anti-corruption initiative, which builds on that success. And as the government continues to implement policies that promote the growth of the economy, capital markets, and banking sector, it is arguably had little to no effect on Vietnam’s commitment to liberalizing reforms.

Meanwhile, Vietnam continues to scale the value- added ladder. High-tech products are now the focus of Vietnam’s primary exports to the United States, with many Apple products now being produced in Vietnam.

The nation’s exports of high- tech goods increased from 13 % in 2010 to 42 % in 2020, according to Long S Le, a lecturer at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

The World Bank projects that Vietnam’s economy will continue to grow by 5.5 % in 2024 and 6.6 % in 2025 despite the conflict between Israel and Gaza and the global geopolitical strains caused by the war in Ukraine and the Gaza conflict.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s president at the time, issued a warning to citizens about greed in advance of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s establishment, warning that it might turn into a serious national issue.

Doi Moi“, or Renovation, the nation’s path toward creating a socialist- oriented market economy first initiated in 1986, created many new opportunities for bribery and fraud.

The public and private sectors ‘ salaries were significantly impacted by the transition from centralization to free trade and a market economy.

Now, bribery is still rampant across Vietnamese society, with payoffs often made to police, school admissions departments and for employment opportunities.

Among public officials, there’s one clear reason for corruption: stubbornly low salaries. For example, the basic monthly salary for a provincial judge is$ 253 while a school teacher earns only$ 100 a month. Researchers have highlighted how corruption is still a result of low wages.

Low wages contribute to Vietnamese corruption. Image: Facebook

The real estate sector and related industries, which make up at least 16 % of GDP, have now experienced a significant cooling effect as a result of Trong’s anti-corruption campaign. Real estate markets across Vietnam have been impacted significantly by the country’s unrestrained criminal justice system.

However, a boom in factory land demand has been caused by changes in the global supply chain that favor Vietnam, including the US’s decision to decouple from China.

Vietnam’s ambitious anti- corruption efforts have prompted top- level resignations, spurred renewal among Party officials and ultimately are building confidence in the Party and Vietnam’s broad business environment.

Effectively, the campaign has reassured the sclerotic bureaucracy that overarching authorities are closely monitoring their actions. The resultant unease among officials and the general public may help to encourage further political reform and end corruption’s long-standing root causes.

James Borton is the author of Dispatches from the South China Sea: Navigating to Common Ground and a non-resident senior fellow at Johns Hopkins/SAIS Foreign Policy Institute.

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