Saturday, February 10, 2007

Health threats at work

''Some people sip coffee all day and that can result in too high a caffeine intake. Excessive caffeine increases the heart rate, forcing it to work harder and harder all day long,'' the dietician explained.

To Somsri, black coffee is actually better than white, but in case some people find it too bitter to drink, Somsri recommends artificial sweetener instead of sugar. Coffee aficionados are recommended to limit their coffee intake to no more than two cups per day.

Another problem that has become more common among office workers is skipping meals, especially breakfast.

''Skipping breakfast is the worst idea of all as breakfast has always been said to be the most important meal of the day,'' Somsri remarked. ''To prove it, let's take a closer look at our normal evening routine. For example, we have dinner at 6pm and go to bed at, say, 11pm. Then we wake up at 6am the following morning. We've already fasted 12 hours; if we then skip breakfast, it means that we aren't giving our brains and bodies enough food.''

Many people do not feel hungry after missing breakfast. This is because with no food the liver resorts to its stored reserves, since the central nervous system and the body have already started working. The later we have breakfast, the more the liver's supplies are depleted, which can lead to an overwhelming feeling of fatigue.

''Without breakfast, there is insufficient fuel to the brain and central nervous system. Thus, skipping breakfast is like destroying your own brain cells,'' she added.

Can eating a big dinner be the solution so that the body will store nutrition from dinner use the next morning? According to Somsri, having too much dinner forces the body to work harder, because after dinner, the body is less active than during the daytime. Moreover, vitamins and minerals that exceed the body's requirements will be expelled rather than stored, while fat and carbohydrates will be stored, resulting in obesity.

For those who are not habitual breakfast eaters, the nutritionist suggested that they start with something small each morning and gradually work their way up to a healthy breakfast. A good way to break the habit of skipping breakfast is to perhaps drink a glass of milk with a slice of whole-wheat bread and some fruit.

Snacking and nibbling all day is another cause of bad health among office workers. Snack foods, such as crisps, corn chips, crackers and cheese rings, are mostly too salty. Too many high-fat, salty snacks, Somsri said, means a high saturated fat diet. Even fat-free snacks, when eaten in sufficient quantity, can be harmful to the health, because it is easy to exceed recommended daily calorie requirements.

Managing between-meal snacks is therefore as important as managing our main meals, especially for overweight people. The easiest way to do this, the dietician advised, is not to eat too many snack foods. However, following this simple recommendation might be too difficult for snack lovers. Office workers addicted to between-meal nibbles should try to reduce the quantity they eat at meal times, to maintain the appropriate level of daily calorie intake. Eating fruit between meals is fine, but avoid dips that are too sweet or too salty. Diabetics should also keep away from eating too much fruit during the day.

To the dietician, dietary balance is the key in keeping oneself healthy.

''In each meal, try to eat not only fat, carbohydrate and protein, but also minerals and vitamins which come mainly from fruit and vegetables. Office workers should try to find time to cook their own meals at least once a day using natural flavourings such as pepper, ginger, garlic and five-spice powder instead of artificial flavour enhancers,'' she explained.

Proper dietary practice is just one step on the path to a healthy life. Regular exercise is also vital. The fundamental rule, Somsri noted, is that: Those who want to stay healthy should spare the time to look after themselves.

''Modern people always say that they are too busy to cook, too busy to take regular exercise. Being too busy and being too lazy, to me, are two different things. I think people these days are too lazy to mind take care of themselves. So being too 'busy' is no excuse. You say you don't have time to eat healthy food, or to exercise, but you always find time to talk to friends on the phone for hours. Ask yourself whether or not this is reasonable.''

This article is the first part of our 'Health Threats at Work' series, which explores aspects of health among office workers. The second part, next month, will focus on computer-related health problems and stress.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007
Mr P Be Happy bin (280 baht)

Toaster (2,500 baht)

Bumrungrad Hospital Health Screening Packages (from 2,600 to 15,300 baht)


Come Valentine's Day, words are rarely considered enough. Here's a few gift suggestions that will speak on your heart's behalf

It's that time of year again and the pressure is on to find your special someone a gift that will light up their eyes on Valentine's Day. But please, Valentine presents are not limited to red roses and chocolates. Those who are giving should bear in mind that their gift reflects how much they care about their lover _ or how much they don't. So make an effort and put some thought into choosing a gift that will be appreciated. However, if you're stuck for ideas, here are a few little somethings that can show your sweetheart how much he or she means to you. iPod Shuffle

Grab a colourful new iPod Shuffle and load it with up to 240 songs your lover will enjoy. Available in silver, pink, green, blue and orange, there is an iPod shuffle to suit all tastes. Give your significant other something to listen to when you're not around.

Charriol St Tropez Heart

Valentine's Day is about hearts, and hearts abound in this watch and bracelet set. Finely sculpted hearts adorn the band of the watch, which features mother-of-pearl numbering on a face of pink, black or blue, and hang as charms from the accompanying chain. The set even comes in a heart-shaped box and includes a bonus key ring _ with hearts on it.

Sirius Puma Watch

This simple yet stylish watch features a light-weight aluminium case attached to a white leather band. The dial is reflective glass with a digital display and the watch is waterproof to 30 metres.

Baby-G in Rose Gold

Pretty but tough, sweet but sophisticated, this new model Baby-G comes in a basic rose gold colour that is almost universally stylish. Available as a digital-analogue combination, this watch will cater to just about any fashion and taste.

Blue Pass

Experience the fascinating views of marine life at Siam Ocean World all year round with a one-year or even a lifetime membership card. Or, if you really want to add some excitement to your Valentine's Day, go diving together at the aquarium where you can share the water with sharks, rays and many other varieties of sea life.

Mr P Be Happy

With its green body and white teeth, a plastic desk bin from Propaganda will be sure to make your lover smile.


Planning on cooking breakfast for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day? Complete your effort with a cute toaster from Siam Discovery Centre. A simple but sweet gift that can be enjoyed again and again by both of you.

Health Screening Packages

On a more pragmatic note, show someone how much you love them by looking out for their health with a check-up voucher from Bumrungrad Hospital. Your significant other will be touched that you care about their health and well-being.

Remember, Valentine's Day is about love, romance and showing your appreciation for somebody. Your Valentine will be expecting something and it's up to you to show that you know what they like. Good luck, and enjoy the day.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007
Name that plant!

To make plants more attractive and saleable, nursery owners at Chatuchak have renamed them

I recently went to the plant market at Chatuchak to survey what plants are available for readers who don't have the time to do so. Though there are many other plant markets in and around Bangkok, at Chatuchak you can buy directly from nursery owners who sell their plants at wholesale prices even if you buy only a plant or two. I found the plant market bewildering, to say the least. Plants I used to know by another name are now called by a different name and I felt like an alien landing on a different planet, with the people speaking a different language. Now I know the predicament faced by some readers who go to the market asking for certain plants but can't find them because the vendors have different names for the said plants.

Plumeria or frangipani used to be called lantom in Thai; now vendors call it leelavadi.

Cordylines, which used to be locally known as makpu-makmia, are now pet puang thong (the variegated variety) and tabtim siam (the red variety).

Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen or keo muen pi in Thai, literally meaning ''green for decades of years''), has been renamed kaew kanchana following the production of a mind-boggling array of crossbreeds and cultivars in a variety of bright colours that all but obliterated the green colour that gave the plant its name keo muen pi.

The names for the cultivars range from the descriptive to the melodramatic: Pramote Hybrid 1, Pramote Hybrid 2, Lai Nam Thong, Morakot Prakai Ngoen, Mangkorn Yok, Treasure of Siam, Mona Lisa, Mongkon Siam, Mongkon Mani, and Mani Maha Mongkon, to name just a few.

Mongkon in Thai means ''auspicious'', and many plants have ''mongkon'' added to their names to make them sell better. Several varieties of citrus, including what used to be known as somjeed (Citrofortunella microcarpa), are now being sold under the name Som Sri Mongkon.

''People are an amazing lot,'' a friend who owns a plant nursery commented. ''For a long time no one was interested in this philodendron and I thought I'd never be able to sell it. After I changed its name to make it sound auspicious, it sold like hot cakes and now I cannot propagate it fast enough to meet demand. It was the same plant, and people knew it, yet they bought it after it was given a new name.''

Another example is lantom, which used to be planted only on hills and in cemeteries and temple grounds, away from people's homes. With new hybrids and a new name, leelavadi, it is now everywhere _ along streets and road islands, parks, and in people's gardens. With its new name and popularity, prices also went up accordingly.

Plants at Chatuchak are priced according to their size, of course. And an old, common variety is much cheaper than a rare plant or a new cultivar. Chuan-chom (Adenium obesum), for example, are selling from 50 baht for a small, common variety, to between 500 and 3,000 baht for big, well-established specimens with lots of flowers and up to 10,000 baht for new cultivars of the same size.

A Prachin Buri nursery owner, meanwhile, was willing to part with his 3m-tall Cuban palm, Coccothrinax crinita, for 95,000 baht. A perfect specimen which he grew from seed, the palm took 20 years to reach that size.

If you are not going for new cultivars and rare specimens, however, plants at Chatuchak are generally cheaper than in other places. If all you want is greenery for your terrace or living room, there are several species of sizeable palms, ficus, ferns and crotons as well as flowering orchids which will set you back only a few hundred baht each or even less.

Meanwhile, Teng Wong wants to know what plants to put on his balcony and living room. The answers will be in next Sunday's Green Fingers.

Green Fingers may be reached at normita.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007
SCB Chairman

Dr Chirayu Israngkun

Na Ayuthaya welcomes Thanpuying Pensri and Keokhwan Vajarodhaya.


Khunying Jada Wattanasiritham, Chanya Sawangjitr, Dr Chirayu,

Dr Vichit Suraphongchai and Kannikar Chalitaporn.

Bantoon Lamsam, Anand Panyarachun, Escap Executive Secretary Kim Hak-Su and Chatri Sophonpanich.

Paiboon Wattanasiritham and Charnchai Charnvirakul.

Busaba Chirathivat and Kobkarn Wattanawarangkul.

Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayothin (centre) and his wife with Assoc Prof Preecha Charoongkijanan.

'Our Joy and Our Pride' modern dance performance.

Thongchai 'Bird' McIntyre leads singers in the song 'Phalang Baimai'.

Pracha Hetrakul and MR Pridiyathorn Devakula.

IN THELimelight


Two memorable celebrations marked the centenary of Siam Commercial Bank

His Majesty the King graciously appointed Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as his representative to preside over celebrations marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) at the bank's headquarters in Ratchayothin. As part of the celebrations, Her Royal Highness presided over a religious ceremony to enshrine Buddha relics within a Buddha image specially created for SCB's centenary. Her Royal Highness also opened and viewed an exhibition entitled ''100 Years of Thai and World Economy'' at the Thai Bank Museum located at SCB's head office, and presented a trophy to the winner of Kla Mai Fai Roo, a youth development project set up in celebration of the bank's birthday.

On hand to welcome Her Royal Highness were SCB executives led by Chairman Dr Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, Dr Vichit Suraphongchai, Khunying Jada Wattanasiritham and Kannikar Chalitaporn.

A grand reception was also held at the bank's headquarters on a separate evening, providing an occasion for the bank to thank some of its loyal customers for their support over the years. The event was attended by privy councillors, cabinet ministers, business people and distinguished guests from various fields. Among the guests were Keokwan and Thanphuying Pensri Vajarodhaya, Pol Gen Phao Sarasin, Gen Pichitr Kullavanijaya, MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, Vijit Supinit, Chadathip Chutrakul, Busaba Chirathivat, Songkran Isara and Sanan and Khunying Natthika Angubolkul.

Thousands of guests attended in all, making the large venue appear decidedly small and crowded. They mingled and moved between three different stages where various forms of entertainment were presented.

The evening was fun-filled and colourful with activities including King Bho Thong and Nang Abasara traditional Thai dances, an ''Our Joy and Our Pride'' modern dance, Golden Land singing performances and a video presentation entitled ''Bank of Five Reigns''. Guests were also treated to a sensational performance by pop superstar Thongchai ''Bird'' McIntyre, who opened with Khong Khwan Chak Kon Din (Gift from Earth) then entertained guests with A Hundred Love Songs and Phalang Bai Mai (Green Power), a song specially composed for the grand birthday celebration.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Dulko, Bammer gunning for first title : Argentine sixth seed denies Indian sensation Mirza in thrilling semi-final battle.

By Tor Chittinand

Argentina's Gisela Dulko and Austrian Sybille Bammer will battle it out in today's final of the WTA Pattaya Women's Open at Dusit Resort after winning their semi-final outings yesterday. Dulko defeated Indian sensation Sania Mirza in two thrilling sets while Bammer needed just 89 minutes to dispose of China's Shuai Peng.

Both Dulko and Bammer will be chasing their first major title, with Dulko having contested the 2005 Hobart final and Bammer's previous best career result coming when she reached the semi-finals here last year.

Dulko said she was delighted to have made it through.

''It was a very tough match because Sania is a very good player,'' she said.

''I try to focus on each point and I did it.

''Sania hits hard with her whole body but I got the right result and it is very good to be in the final.

''I will try my best to win.''

Dulko took the first set 6-4 then had to battle hard to win the second 7-5.

Unseeded Bammer overcame the Chinese world number 42 and tournament fourth seeded Shuai 6-4, 6-2.

After the match Bammer said she had worked hard to make it into today's showdown with Dulko.

'' I fought for everything and made her run for every shot,'' she said.

''At times, my serve was really good and I played much better than in the earlier rounds.

''I just tried to make all the first serves in so she wasn't pushing me in the return.

''I did that, and hit an ace on 30-0 so I felt really relieved at that time.

''She is a good player, and it was a tough match, but I am delighted to win.''

In the doubles semi-final yesterday, second seeded pair of Nicole Pratt of Australia and Mara Santangelo of Italy beat Slovakia's Jarmila Gajdosova and Jelena Kostanic Tosic of Croatia 7-5, 3-6, 10-4 to advance to the final against top seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung of Taiwan.

Today's first match will start at 3pm and will be shown live on iTV.


(Prefix number denotes seedings)

Singles semi-finals: Sybille Bammer (AUT) beat 4-Shuai Peng (CHN) 6-4, 6-2; 6-Gisela Dulko (ARG) beat 5-Sania Mirza (IND) 6-4, 7-5

Doubles semi-final: 2-Nicole Pratt (AUS) and Mara Santangelo (ITA) beat 4-Jarmila Gajdosova (SVK) and Jelena Kostanic Tosic (CRO) 7-5, 3-6, 10-4

Safarova sees off Henin to reach final

In Paris _ Lucie Safarova's brilliant run at the Paris Open continued when the Czech knocked out top seed Justine Henin 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 yesterday to reach the final.

Unseeded Safarova, who beat compatriot Nicole Vaidisova and world number five Svetlana Kuznetsova in the previous rounds, now meets either holder Amelie Mauresmo of France or Russian Nadia Petrova in today's final.

The 20-year-old Czech broke into the limelight at last month's Australian Open when she knocked out then champion Mauresmo in the fourth round before falling to Vaidisova in the quarter-finals.

''It's like in a dream, I am so happy,'' a smiling Safarova said in a court interview. ''The crowd was fantastic. I do not fear anyone, I now have to stay focused for the final.''

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Fans and players are desperate to beat rivals to secure bragging rights of local area

Story by RAY KING

As I sat in comfort like thousands of television football enthusiasts watching Liverpool and Everton last Saturday, it was fascinating to witness the sheer intensity portrayed by both teams. This is a fixture like no other. Winning the championship, promotion and relegation issues are thrown aside when teams from the same city or town are pitched against each other in a local derby. I have been involved in such games when Newcastle Utd took on Sunderland and Port Vale faced Stoke City.

Even today I still feel the emotion between players and the intense hatred of opposing supporters.

The big ones are Manchester Utd v City, Arsenal v Spurs, Villa v Birmingham and Sheffield Utd v Wednesday but there are plenty more across the divisions.

Players only have one target in mind _ to knock hell out of the opposition, then shake hands at the end!

A few years ago when Newcastle lost to Sunderland at St James Park, United supporters wept in the streets!

Even in lower leagues these issues also prevail. In 1964 I was trainer-coach with Oxford Utd where I was fortunate enough to enjoy a great deal of success. When I took over the team were hovering near the bottom of the old Fourth Division but we went 13 games without defeat and reached the 6th round of the FA Cup, beating Blackburn Rovers 3-0 who were top of the old First Division (now the Premiership).

In the 6th round we lost 2-1 to Preston North End (who went on to win the Cup) because we were badly prepared.

Fifteen minutes before kick-off, team captain Ron Atkinson was still outside the ground 'flogging' tickets.

The manager Arthur Turner ignored my request to get Ron stripped ready to take the field, saying: ''Don't worry, Ray, he'll be out in time!''

How right he was, clutching the ball in his hands, boot laces undone as the ref's whistle sounded. What a way to approach such an important Cup tie.

Because of Oxford's success, several league clubs asked about my availability and I received a direct offer from Cambridge City, arguably the richest non-league club in the country at that time.

The chairman and vice chairman were multi-millionaire brothers and their astounding offer remains entrenched in my memory. It was a three-year contract, treble the salary I was receiving at Oxford, a beautiful four-bedroom house plus the latest range in luxury cars.

Of course there are always hidden agendas to such financial inducements.

They weren't concerned whether the team won the league or had a good run in the FA Cup. My main project as manager was to beat Cambridge Utd in the local derby game!

When I reporting back to Oxford to inform them of the offer, the chairman and manager almost went on their hands and knees to beg me to stay.

They said I had a great future with Oxford and my salary would be substantially increased.

In hindsight, I made the wrong decision to bow to their wishes.

The crunch came some weeks later when Cardiff City of the First Division invited me to interview for the manager's position. When Oxford heard of this they sacked me forthwith. From being a sought after figure I was out of a job thank goodness I had a sense of humour.

* Ray King is a former Newcastle United, Port Vale and England 'B' goalkeeper.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007
ASIA FOCUS : Unlocking the door


Taking a plunge in markets that are immature and raw can yield rewards although investors have to be more cautious and patient, not rushing out as soon as signs of turbulence start to appear.

"It is like opening up the door, you keep trying until you figure out which is the best key to unlock the door. If you are going to a foreign country you got to be prepared to stay there for a while to understand it, to feel it and to make your business work," said Allan Zeman, the businessman who moved to Hong Kong three decades ago after having dealt with companies in the then British territory for his apparel business.

Mr Zeman, who started working at the age of 10 and had made his first $1 million by 19, says taxes in Canada, his home at the time, cost him about 60% of the $1 million in various forms while in Hong Kong the rate was a flat 15%, making the territory more attractive for the young entrepreneur.

But figuring out the best tax break was not this young man's ultimate goal. Instead it was to move into countries that were still lagging and offered higher returns. Among the options was to use China as the production base and for that he moved to Shaoshan, the birthplace of China's leader Mao Zedong.

"Even in those days, I took the risk of entering the Chinese market. That was some 28 years ago, but I can say that moving into unknown countries such as China is not everybody's cup of tea - you have to work 48 hours a day.

"You have to be committed and you have to make your business work as rarely will it work on its own."

Mr Zeman says that although it was his good fortune that helped him during his years in China, when shipments were taken off the trains in favour of shipments of people with close connections with railway station masters, in the long haul he says the efforts were worth it.

Today, the man who set up Hong Kong's first trendy restaurant, California, in Lan Kwai Fong, a narrow street in Central Hong Kong, has business interests in Singapore, Macau, Thailand, Singapore and other countries.

Mr Zeman, who is also called "the father of Lan Kwai Fong" after helping the area to become one of the most important bar and nightlife districts in Hong Kong, is the chairman of Ocean Park in Hong Kong and has one of the largest houses in Thailand with total space of more than 6,000 square metres.

Mr Zeman, who started his first job as a dishwasher to supplement his pocket money after his father died, says that making moves into a country is all about having the courage to take the first step.

"If you do not have the guts then stay and do what you are doing, as you will not succeed. The ones who succeed are the ones who are not afraid of doing what they want to do," he says.

He added that fears of intense competition in countries such as China should not prevent people from entering foreign markets.

"Thai people need to have confidence and adapt the various know-how to the local operations and make it unique before selling it to the outside world."

Citing the example of the agricultural giant, Charoen Pokphand Group, Mr Zeman says the group has been successful in beating farmers at their own game, with quick thinking and efficient systems in place.

As part of the strategy to move across borders, Mr Zeman says that people should always think ahead, think about tomorrow and think about the downside not just the upside.

Citing the example of Thailand where capital controls and the amendment to the Foreign Business Act have spooked investors, he says that such moves are not positive to foreign direct investments and are a good example of what could happen if investors take a plunge in countries about which they have less knowledge.

Thailand, he says, has great potential, like that of Hong Kong which serves as a gateway to China, but the country needs to open itself more to foreign investment.

Citing the need for clarity in various investments, he says that countries with clearer policies always win the race.

"A country is as good as its leaders. If the leaders are good then things will happen fast. That is the good point of China. China today is very international despite holding on to its identity and it is opening up more and more."

Mr Zeman, who has interests in property, hospitality, clothing and movie production, says that Thailand's strength lies in its hospitality sector and that is where the country could tap into global markets.

Citing the example of Anantara, the hotel chain that is based on Thai hospitality, he says that such products can be sold in the international market.

"China does not need another hotel as they have enough but a hotel with a twist such as those that offer Thai hospitality is something that will sell well. Why do people come to Thailand? It is because of the whole new experience of Thai hospitality," he says.

Such concepts with minimal added value, he says, can still work for other businesses that are looking to enter countries such as China.

China, he says, currently has every product that is there on the face of the planet but products with differentiation is something that could do well there.

"The product has to be something that the other guys do not offer. This is what I call as forced sale, meaning giving people the reason to buy your product or service over those that are being offered in the market," he says.

"Offer more than your competitor, as by doing that you are forcing people to come and it becomes advertising by word of mouth, and the business will flourish," he concluded.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Recipe for success

Two highly successful businessmen share their views on how to go international

Entrepreneurs looking for success from cross-border opportunities should not expect overnight results, or an easy entry into the markets they are pursuing, since only hard work and the courage to continue could lead them to greater prosperity.

"There is no easy market, nor is there any overnight success," says Bill Heinecke, the founder and chairman of Minor International Plc, one of the highly successful Thai companies that have ventured outside Thai borders.

"If something was easy then everybody would be there," said Allan Zeman, founder and chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Holdings, one of Hong Kong's leading diversified conglomerates with interests in property, apparel and movies.

The entrepreneurs made the comments at a seminar entitled "Go Beyond your Borders", organised by the Thammasat Moot Corp 2007 Forum.

Mr Zeman, who started his first job when he was 10 years old in Canada, says that one of the most attractive markets that Thai entrepreneurs could go into is China as the vast potential that the country offers continues to hold riches for those who dare to venture.

"China today is changing the world and if I was 21 years old, I would want to live there," says Mr Zeman, 57.

"To be an entrepreneur you need guts and some money, and I think sometimes not necessarily too many brains, only a small percentage would do," he adds.

The two entrepreneurs, who have made it big in their own right after starting from scratch a few decades ago, say that the best way to make a business successful is to have the passion to drive it.

"If you are passionate and have a good promotion method you can make it happen, always remember that it is people who build brands and not brands that build people," said Mr Heinecke, who built The Pizza Company after a dispute with Pizza Hut's parent company Yum.

Mr Heinecke says that businessmen looking to enter the more lucrative markets such as China and India need to have a longer-term perspective and investors have to remain focused.

"There are few things that I have learned from the experience from shifting our focus outside Thailand: 1) no overnight success, be prepared for the long haul; 2) make sure that the market is worth the investment, that means go to countries such as China, India or Indonesia, not Nepal, Laos or Cambodia; 3) remain focused on what you do; 4) enjoy the market and meet the challenges that come across; and 5) build the brand to be recognised in that market," he says.

He added that The Pizza Company, which controls more than 70% of the pizza market in Thailand against Yum's Pizza Hut, is fighting it out in China where he has to compete with the multinationals to grab a piece of the pie.

He says that the best way is to offer the customers something that is unique and for people living in Thailand it is the service quality that can be the best niche they can offer.

Thailand, which is world-renowned for its hospitality, can use this as a launch pad for expanding operations beyond its borders. As such, Minor International has already started to move in the resort and spa businesses in countries such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates (Dubai) with plans to open more in the near future.

"Consumers across the world have more in common than differences, so it is not that difficult to move into international markets," he said to young students who were inspired by the bearded man who had started his business some four decades ago with a mere $1,000 borrowed from his father.

"In the end, it all boils down to how much disposable income each market has and how we can tap that income."

Mr Zeman, who started his working life washing dishes in restaurants, had similar views, saying that the only thing that differs in each country is the culture and once that is overcome it is easier for companies to move forward. "You have to adapt to the cultures and think ahead, especially if you are in fashion or other trendy businesses," he said.

"Think out of the box and you will be able to do things, but always aim for the top class as it will help you achieve more."

Both entrepreneurs were of the same view that doing market research and other chores is not always the best way to get ahead. Instead, investors should go by their instinct.

"If I had done market research 25 years ago about pizzas in Thailand, I would have not reached anywhere as during those days not many Thais loved to eat such types of food," Mr Heinecke says, recalling his first pizza outlet that he opened in the resort town of Pattaya.

In another example, Mr Zeman talks about the coffee chain Starbucks, which has become the hottest offering among the tea-drinking Chinese.

In doing business, entrepreneurs also need to have local partners - ones who understand the market and are reliable.

"If I have to choose a local partner what I am looking for the most is passion. If it's there then the business will be successful. Second is some experience and lastly it is the financial resources, as financial resources can be found if the other things match," Mr Heinecke says.

Financial resources are also the last thing that Mr Zeman says he's looking for in a partner.

"For me it's like a marriage, so what I'm looking for is compatibility, creativity in terms of what the new partner can bring to the table - if they are strong in what I'm weak in then it is perfect - and then I think about financial strength."

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

The plight of the office worker

In comfortable, air-conditioned offices, occupational injuries and illnesses are discussed less often than conference minutes. These days office workers spend more time tapping keyboards than taking care of themselves. From the computers we use to the coffee we drink, it seems that anything can be considered an occupational risk.

According to dietician Somsri Tachavarakul, many office workers nowadays have heavy workloads and pay less attention than ever to their physical and mental well-being.

From her experience working as a nutritionist for over 20 years, Somsri has noticed that there is an increasing number of middle-aged office workers suffering from medical problems related to their diets, especially high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and obesity.

''A large number of office employees have high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and are obese, which are all the consequence of bad diet and a lack of exercise. Many concentrate solely on their work and feel they have no time to eat healthily. Some think that just grabbing anything edible is good enough, but they don't realise that what they eat may be slowly killing them,'' Somsri commented.

High blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and obesity, if left unattended, can lead to other life-threatening problems such as heart disease, diabetes or a stroke, the nutritionist noted.

According to the dietician, office workers visiting her with dietary complaints are mostly aged between 35 and 50. As a result of too much work in the office, they end up eating fast food for lunch or frozen food for dinner instead of home-cooked meals.

Junk food has become more popular with consumers _ it is easy to buy and requires little or no preparation. However, fast food normally contains too much saturated fat and salt and, most importantly, has only limited nutritional content. Eating fast food occasionally, Somsri said, does not have any serious effects, but frequent consumption of such food is detrimental to a person's health.

To avoid fast food, some office workers choose to eat in fine restaurants instead, supposing that high-priced food equates to good quality.

''Expensive food does not necessarily mean food with good nutritional value,'' Somsri remarked. ''In most five-star Chinese restaurants, they normally use animal fat to make food taste more delicious, and this is claimed to be unhealthy, due to its association with high cholesterol.''

Apart from fast food chains, in most easy-to-find hot pot-style restaurants, seasoning and dipping sauces make food tasty but they are, according to the dietician, also high in salt.

In addition to problems associated with food, other aspects of a person's diet such as too much coffee can be another big, yet much-neglected health-related issue. During the daytime, many office workers consider cups of cappuccino or shots of espresso as fuel for their body and brain. Coffee, if consumed in appropriate quantities, offers plenty of benefits. The caffeine in coffee is a mild stimulant that affects the central nervous system and the metabolism. It helps keeps drowsy people alert and wards off fatigue. It also contains anti-oxidants that can help prevent fatal diseases including heart disorders and cancer.

Nonetheless, office workers tend to drink coffee in a way that creates a bad impact on their health. Too much sugar, sweetened condensed milk and whipping cream are usually added. These leave the body with high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which, in the long run, can cause coronary artery disease.


Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Gonzalez and Higley lead way

Chinarat tumbles down the leaderboard but Prom makes his move

By Chuah Choo Chiang

Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina and Marcus Higley of England survived a gruelling day at the office to end the third round of the Maybank Malaysian Open tied for the lead yesterday. Gonzalez battled to a three-under-par 69 for a seven-under-par 209 total at a sun-baked Saujana Golf and Country Club and was matched by Higley, who brilliantly produced two closing birdies for a 70.

Trailing two strokes back in the US$1.29m Championship co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour are Angelo Que of the Philippines, who forced his way into today's final group with a superb 68, Thailand's Prom Meesawat (70) and American left-hander Edward Loar (72).

Halfway leader Chinarat Phandungsil of Thailand slipped back to tied 18th place following a 77 while the tournament's big guns, England's Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland and big Dane Thomas Bjorn failed to move into the title hunt.

Westwood and Clarke, both stalwarts in Europe's victorious Ryder Cup team, fired their week's best of 71 but trails by seven and eight shots respectively. Bjorn was further back following a 74 while 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand withdrew from the tournament with a shoulder injury after a 78.

Gonzalez sank four birdies and dropped a lone bogey to give himself a shot at a fourth European Tour victory. ''I played last Friday in Dubai and made 65, so I came in here with some good confidence. Tomorrow, I'll try to play like today and make some putts.

''I think another three under could be a good chance to win the tournament. The course is not looking easy,'' said Gonzalez, who enjoyed five top-10s last season.

Higley continues to surprise even himself in his rookie season after graduating from the Challenge Tour. The Englishman started disastrously with two opening bogeys but fought back with five birdies against another dropped shot, closing with some wonderful approach shots that left him with easy birdie conversions.

''It feels good. Obviously it is new territory and Im sure Ill be nervous, like I was today. But Im just going to keep doing the same things I have been doing the last few days and hopefully I will get the same results,'' said Higley.

Asia's hopes will rest squarely on the shoulders of Que, who charged up the leaderboard with two stunning eagles on his inward nine of 32. He holed a 50-footer on the par five 13th and then spun a wedge shot for a two at the par four 17th.

While Chinarat tumbled down the leaderboard with a mixed bag that included two double bogeys, four bogeys and three birdies, compatriot Prom, third on last year's Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit, rose to the challenge with a battling display to shoot four birdies and two bogeys, which were a result of three-putts.

''If you make fewer mistakes than the others, you can win. But you need to hole a lot of putts. If you miss on the wrong side, you can make three putts easily,'' said the burly Prom, nicknamed the ''Big Dolphin'' due to his hefty physique and the fact that he lives I the coastal town of Hua Hin.

''I've been trying hard to keep the ball on the fairway this week as if you miss, you have to hit a good shot out,'' he added.

England's Simon Dyson, who has won four times in Asia, stayed in contention despite a 73 that left him three back alongside Thai-based Scotsman Simon Yates (70), Australian David Bransdon (70) and Sweden's Peter Hedblom (68).


209 _ Ricardo Gonzalez (ARG) 69-71-69, Marcus Higley (ENG) 72-67-70

211 _ Angelo Que (PHI) 70-73-68, Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-69-70, Edward Loar (USA) 68-71-72

212 _ Peter Hedblom (SWE) 73-71-68, Simon Yates (SCO) 73-69-70, David Bransdon (AUS) 70-72-70, Simon Dyson (ENG) 71-68-73

213 _ Gary Lockerbie (ENG) 72-71-70, Graeme Storm (ENG) 72-72-69, Robert-Jan Derksen (NLD) 70-73-70, Andrew Coltart (SCO) 74-69-70, Ignacio Garrido (ESP) 76-69-68, Damien Mcgrane (IRL) 70-73-70, Frankie Minoza (PHI) 72-70-71, Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 69-70-74

214 _ Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 72-74-68, Gavin Flint (AUS) 71-71-72, Jean-Francois Lucquin (FRA) 72-68-74, Chinarat Phadungsil (THA) 70-67-77

215 _ Amandeep Johl (IND) 73-71-71, Andrew Marshall (ENG) 75-69-71, Anton Haig (RSA) 74-69-72, Kyron Sullivan (WAL) 73-70-72, S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND) 67-77-71, Sam Walker (ENG) 72-71-72, Alastair Forsyth (SCO) 69-73-73, Gerald Rosales (PHI) 70-75-70

216 _ Gary Simpson (AUS) 71-72-73, Marcus Both (AUS) 71-72-73, Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 73-71-72, Stephen Gallacher (SCO) 71-73-72, Lee Westwood (ENG) 75-70-71, Alessandro Tadini (ITA) 70-72-74, David Drysdale (SCO) 73-73-70, Rafael Echenique (ARG) 68-71-77

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Navy sail past British Club for title

By Edward Thangarajah

The first Nakhonpathom Rugby 10s tournament took place at the Royal Sanam Chant ground yesterday.

The tough-tackling, fast-moving Navy Communications 10 won the competition by defeating the British Club 33-10. They beat Technology N.Bangkok 19-0 in the semis.

The Britishers had beaten Ramkhamhaeng 10-5 in the semi-finals and they too enjoyed tremendous exposure with their attacking rugger.

Wins over Thonburi A and Technology N.Bangkok stamped their class and ability.

In the Division Two competition the honours went to Ratnabandit, who beat Mahidol 26-12 in an exciting encounter. Ratnabandit's speedy, flawless play earned them success. They had a tough match against Old Ratchavith whom they beat 7-5.

Mahidol had eliminated Thonburi A 14-0.

Though Chulalongkorn and Kasetsat Universities didn't play in the tournament, the organisers accommodated British Club and Srinakarinwirote in the four group competition.

Group A had four teams with Groups B, C and D having three each.

Group A top seeds Navy Communications got off to a flying start by registering a runaway 29-0 win over Old Chulapornvitayalai, Chonburi in the curtain-raiser.

Third seeded Ratanabandit out-paced all first round teams with a totally one-sided performance against Old Chulaporn, chalking up a 41-0 victory.

Three first round matches ended scoreless. Group B top seeds Ramkhamhaeng were held to a draw by Old Ratchavith, with no team crossing each other's goallines nor did they succeed in putting over penalties. Navy Communication had to face the same fate in their match against Ratanabandit and British Club were kept at bay and stalled from scoring by a tough-tackling Technology N.Bangkok team.

The most exciting match in the round turned out to be between Silpakaron University and Srinakarinwirote which ended in a thrilling 7-7 draw with both teams enjoying the honour of scoring a goal each.

Fifteen matches were played in the first round and Navy Communication enjoyed the honour of winning two matches with ease. After their warm-up win over Old Chulaporn. They beat PT Samutsakhon 12-0 in their second outing .

In the second round Ratanabandit enjoyed the honour of registering three good wins. They beat Old Chulaporn by a try then thrashed Mahidol 33-0 and Thonburi B 17-0.

The British Club scored an impressive 14-7 win over the tough Technology North Bangkok and beat Silpakorn University 12-0.

The most exciting match was unfolded by Old Chulaporn which held Thonburi B to a 12-12 draw.

Navy Communications the ultimate winners of the Division One, British Club the runners-up, Ramkhamhaeng third and Technology North Bangkok fourth.

In Division Two the champions were Ratanabandit who beat Mahidol while Old Ratchavith finished third.

Dr.Ram Wongprasert of the Silpakorn University was chief guest.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

R&D outsourcing

Manufacturing companies in Asia have access to local networks, which helps them integrate technologies and add more value for their outsourced customers.

Multinational companies (MNCs) are operating in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Rapid shifts in consumer preferences, the high rate of technical obsolescence and short product life cycles have forced them to cut costs, improve quality and shorten product development time.

These competitive pressures have transformed the R&D function into one of primary strategic importance. As a result, R&D management has become a key driver of business success.

- ollowing on the heels of the offshoring trend in manufacturing and assembly, MNCs over the past few years have outsourced progressively more strategic components of their operations, including design and R&D.

This has allowed them to focus their expertise and staff deployment on their core activities in sales and marketing. Issues relevant to this trend include:

- Why is there demand for outsourced R&D from Asia?

- What aspects of product development are being outsourced to Asia?

- How has supplying outsourced R&D helped Asian companies build competence?

The competitive advantages that have been associated with the recent trend of R&D outsourcing include improved time to market and time to volume (with product development times reduced by up to 30% to 40%), superior product differentiation and reduced product development costs and risks.

Recently, these trends have been increasingly manifested in the global high-tech industry. Benefits that are specific to this industry include cost savings coupled with high-quality outputs from the emerging markets' highly educated and skilled workforces. Furthermore, R&D outsourcing has enabled leaders in information technology to strengthen their process development expertise and develop new infrastructure, as well as supplier networks.

According to a survey by R&D Magazine in the United States, since 2002, multinationals have primarily outsourced the following aspects of product design and innovation:

- materials innovations;

- new product innovations;

- new process innovations;

- electronic design;

- component innovations;

- software design/development.

R&D rising. The trend to outsource R&D to lower-cost locales has been further magnified with the emergence of MNCs' global sourcing strategies, which have led to companies' establishing innovation and sourcing operations in multiple countries to serve multiple markets.

The world's leading technology vendors, such as Intel and Alcatel, have been assiduously increasing their R&D investments in emerging markets and leveraging these new product development bases to design new generations of high-tech components and infrastructure. Intel, for instance, has set up platform definition centres in India, China, Brazil and Egypt.

Leading technology companies have also recognised that markets in Asia need local developers that can produce specialised design for domestic users.

A new catch phrase, "the next billion customers", referring to the combined size of the emerging middle-class consumer segments in China and India, has been reverberating strongly across the global IT vendor community.

Indeed, the past few years have seen robust growth in the region's design and R&D capabilities. According to the Unesco Institute for Statistics 2005 Science Report, Asia's gross expenditure on R&D grew by about 4% between 1997 and 2002. During the same period, R&D expenditure in Europe and the US fell by approximately 1%.

In 2005, Asian R&D reached 38.7% of the global total, compared to North America's 37.5% and Europe's 23.8%. Increasingly, many western manufacturers - in product categories ranging from mobile handsets to digital cameras, MP3 players, laptops and high-definition TVs - are outsourcing the entire product design and manufacture to Asian R&D partners.

As illustrated in the previous chapter on building competence in product design, many local Asian companies that partnered with leading multinationals have managed to move up the value chain within the multinationals' ecosystems.

The alliances have enabled Asia's high-growth companies to further develop their expertise in custom design and manufacturing, customer service and project co-ordination.

Entering the R&D innovation cycle, their growing manufacturing competence produced process innovation, which in turn resulted in product innovation.

Furthermore, manufacturing companies in Asia have access to emerging indigenous R&D networks, such as local developers of peripheral technologies.

This helps them integrate technologies and therefore add more value to the customer of outsourced R&D.

Best practices emulated. As the global outsourcing trend in high-technology R&D intensifies, it is playing out not only in the advanced high-tech hubs such as Taiwan and South Korea, but increasingly in Asia's emerging manufacturing hot spots such as Vietnam.

In the near future, many new players in these countries' high-tech segments are likely to embark on a similar capability-building process for original design manufacturing (ODM).

In this globalised design and manufacturing landscape, where products can be defined everywhere and manufactured everywhere, what are some of the best practices that Asian companies can emulate among their peers?

Several of the high-growth Asian players interviewed by INSEAD have succeeded in creating and leveraging product platforms that they had established and proved, and on which they own the intellectual property.

The platforms have enabled Asian ODMs to scale up rapidly, thanks to supporting the definition and design of multiple products for different customers. At the same time, customers in effect share the cost of development with competition.

In addition, the proliferation of common platforms and design methodologies has been a powerful stimulus to the adoption of collaborative practices and process standardisation in global manufacturing.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Uninspiring England dispose of Italy

Robinson scores only try for home side as Wilkinson makes big contribution with 15 points

England made it two wins out of two in this season's Six Nations with a lacklustre 20-7 victory over Italy at Twickenham yesterday. Record-breaking Jonny Wilkinson kicked 15 points and Jason Robinson scored a try as the world champions followed up last week's 42-20 win against Scotland with a stuttering performance where they were frequently frustrated by a combative Italian pack.

Italy, for whom this was a second successive defeat after last week's 39-3 thrashing by France, got on the scoreboard thanks to a converted try from outside-half Andrea Scanavacca.

But this defeat meant they'd lost all 13 of their Tests against England and left the Azzurri still searching for a first Six Nations away win.

Wilkinson, who started the day level on 406 Six Nations points with former Wales stand-off Neil Jenkins, set a new tournament aggregate record when, from just inside the Italian half, he kicked a 47 metre penalty.

Scanavacca then missed a chance to equalise when he pulled a penalty.

The Azzurri, showing six changes from the beaten in Rome owed much to recalled scrum-half Alessandro Troncon and their forwards were making life tough for England.

Another Wilkinson penalty took England to 9-0 before Italy suffered a setback when wing Denis Dallan was carried off with what appeared to be an ankle injury following a collision with No 8 Sergio Parisse as he chased a high kick.

England did then manage to make ground deep into Italian territory when, following a break by No 8 Martin Corry, Wilkinson's long cut-out pass found Iain Balshaw who in turn passed to Mike Tindall before the centre was well-tackled by Italy full-back Roland de Marigny.

Soon afterwards, from a lineout, England formed a driving maul with flanker Nick Easter, making his debut in place of the injured Joe Worsley, involved.

Italy then saw captain and lock Marco Bortolami yellow-carded for pulling down the maul while the injury-prone Balshaw, who'd missed the Scotland match with a groin problem, was replaced by Newcastle back Mathew Tait.

England opted to kick for a lineout and duly won possession.

The ball was worked along the backs and Josh Lewsey's clever, but possibly forward, flick-pass created space for left wing Robinson, who slid in for a try at the corner.

Wilkinson, who last week marked his return to England after an injury-induced absence of more than three years with 27 points, missed the conversion but the hosts were 14-0 ahead at half-time.

Carelessness then cost Italy's forwards a couple of promising positions and their cause was not helped when Scanavacca fell just short with a long-range penalty.

And when Italy flanker Josh Sole was penalised for being in front of the kicker, Wilkinson's fourth successful kick from five attempts put England 17-0 in front with 25 minutes left.

Troncon injected a rare moment of purpose when he burst forward. Italy were then encamped on the England line but could not find a way through.

However, they did score the try they deserved in the 65th minute when, after a fine move involving several pairs of hands, Sole charged downfield to set up a ruck where a lack of an England guard allowed Scanavacca to go through for a try under the posts which he converted.

Such was Italy's forward power England brought on three replacement forwards with 10 minutes left.

A frustrated home crowd then booed when England gave Wilkinson another shot at goal rather than run a penalty. But the noise made no difference to the No 10, whose effort made it 20-17.

England's Six Nations campaign continues away to Ireland on February 24 while, on the same day, Italy face Scotland at Murrayfield.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

England's win a big relief for cricket lovers

The glorious uncertainties of cricket were once again beautifully demonstrated in the first of the tri-nation finals played on Friday in Melbourne. A sensational collapse after Australia were 170 for two and a fabulous recovery by England after they had lost three wickets for 15 runs, were outstanding performances for a one-day encounter.

And to top it all underdogs England, who had scraped through into the final with an exciting win over New Zealand, turned the tables on powerful Australia.

What a day of sensations it was. Everyone who follows cricket must have enjoyed the match. I received a call from an English supporter from Surrey, when England had lost three wickets and the scoreboard was reading only 36 at that stage.

But the caller was optimistic that England would recover. He didn't call me up later. Perhaps, he was celebrating England's win.

There were many pessimistic reports written about England's chances in the three-match final. Even the always optimistic English coach, Duncan Fletcher wasn't happy when skipper Michael Vaughan was ruled out of the final series because of a hamstring injury.

To me, it was a blessing in disguise for England because it kept out a player who wasn't doing well with the bat, and was dismissed for no score in his last appearance against New Zealand.

I wondered on what grounds Vaughan would have earned his selection if he had been fit.

If it was only as skipper it would seem ludicrous because it was only a one-dayer.

Of course there have been instances in the past when India's outstanding batsman, Sachin Tendulkar was relieved of the burden of captaincy, because it affected his batting and that helped the prodigy of Indian cricket to flourish with the bat.

With the pressure of captaincy removed from Tendulkar's shoulders, he batted magnificently well.

England's Ian Botham, the first man to complete a Test double of more than 5,000 runs and 300 wickets, shone once he was relieved of the burden of captaining England.

Perhaps coach Fletcher thought captaining the side well would have been too much for Andrew Flintoff to shoulder. But as I said earlier, this is only a one-dayer. Where every side will benefit by playing eleven fully fit players than have someone play only because of his captaincy.

England's victory has done a lot for the game of cricket. At least followers of the sport, and there are many in Thailand, will take a keen interest in the other two matches.

I was talking to the Sri Lankan ambassador Mr.J.D.A Wijewardena last Sunday and he told me that he follows cricket very closely. There are many others who follow this 'king of sports'.

It should also build up keen interest for the upcoming World Cup series. Many countries are aiming to beat Australia and have issued strong challenges.

With cricket-loving West Indies preparing for the World Cup to be played March-April, I am sure England's exciting win will open the doors for more nations to bid strongly for honours.

I was shocked to hear of the brawl the Chinese Under-23 Olympic soccer team was involved with during a friendly with Queen's Park Rangers. Of course, it could not have been a friendly when the game ended in a mass brawl involving some 30 players and members of the coaching staff.

For a country which has always spoken about friendship first and competition second, especially when lifting the mythical 'bamboo curtain' to open the doors to the world, the behaviour of their soccer players in that match, came as a shock.

Moreover, with the Beijing Olympic Games only 18 months away, China doesn't deserve such negative publicity. The Chinese Football Association was right in condemning the behaviour of their team and should ask their players, who are on a tour of England and France to make amends by being on their best of behaviour on the rest of their tour.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Government support for the up and coming

Manufacturing companies in Southeast Asia have enjoyed a cost advantage for decades. But this advantage has begun to erode steadily with the recent surge of emerging economies, including those of China and India, and increasingly fierce competition among companies in Southeast, South and North Asia.

To survive, companies in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia have begun to build new capabilities and are positioning themselves as sources of design, product development and innovation rather than sources of cheap production.

In their bid to stay competitive, these companies have found support from their governments and from manufacturing associations.

In Singapore, for instance, the government has supported the move by local manufacturing companies up the industry value chain in a number of ways.

The Singapore government has provided financial assistance to local small and medium-sized enterprises seeking to invest in infrastructure and upgrade employees' skills.

For example, the Product and Process Development Assistance Scheme is a grant from the Singapore Economic Development Board to help local companies build capabilities in design and development of new products or processes.

Another programme, called the Local Enterprise Technical Assistance Scheme, provides a government grant to companies that wish to hire external consultants to improve management and operations. Government grants have also funded the mechanisation and automation of manufacturing companies in Singapore.

In addition, Singapore-based businesses have benefited from the government's drive to attract multinational companies to set up regional headquarters in the city-state.

Multinationals bring with them investment and opportunities for local companies to increase their efficiency, capabilities and international competitiveness.

Government initiatives such as the Local Industry Upgrading Programme aim to develop partnerships between the multinationals and local SME suppliers of technologies and services. Local manufacturers, some of whom were interviewed in an INSEAD survey, have tapped these ties to upgrade their capabilities and enhance managerial expertise, but also to diversify their service portfolios and enter new markets.

Other Asian governments have put in place similar initiatives to encourage local companies to build new competence. The Human Resource Development Fund in Malaysia offers financial assistance to SMEs seeking to upgrade their employees' skills.

Local companies have also enjoyed access to government grants that finance improvements and innovation in products and processes, adoption of information and communication technologies, acquisition of new technologies, and commercialisation of R&D output.

Other initiatives from the Malaysian government aim to link SMEs with large local companies and multinationals. In Malaysia as in Singapore, such supplier-customer partnerships have enabled local suppliers to learn from the expertise of large multinationals.

Government initiatives in Malaysia also encourage local companies to build marketing expertise and venture into new markets abroad.

The move by manufacturing companies up the value chain in Southeast Asia has both drawn from and contributed to changes in the mindsets in these countries.

These economies are increasingly focused on generating knowledge, encouraging creativity and pursuing innovation in product development, processes and marketing.

Governments in Southeast Asia are encouraging this trend as part of their efforts to sustain the competitiveness of local companies.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007
COACHINGPointsDICK THORNTON : Superb Colts offence deserves credit

Bears should keep QB options open

Agood time was had by all who attended our Super Bowl Party at Shenanigans in Pattaya last Monday morning...although the game failed in many respects to live up to the continuous media hype. With the exception of a few spectacular plays, there were no screen passes, flanker reverses, flea-flickers, halfback passes or any other trick that could have broken the game wide open like last year. It was all about taking advantage of turnovers and the Indianapolis Colts proved worthy champions in that department. Anyhow, next year's Party will be even better, since Shenanigans moves to a new location in the Mall currently being constructed across the road and with more and better seating arrangements plus the latest in audio/video technology.

What follows are my thoughts on the Big Game.


Indianapolis was down seven points just 14 seconds after the opening kick-off, bungled an extra point attempt, shanked a field goal at the end of the half, committed three turnovers (interception and two fumbles) and yet, still won the game handily. How did this happen? The Colts simply didn't panic and were persistent in sticking to their game plan of taking whatever the Bears gave them defensively. Those were the short passes underneath the linebackers (ten to RB Joseph Addai for 66 yards) and in the seams (five to Dallas Clark for 64 yards) plus a power ground attack. They also created takeaways of their own (two picks and two fumbles) with tremendous speed, athleticism and ferocious hitting on the other side of the ball.

Bad omen:

History has a way of repeating itself because just four weeks earlier, undefeated Ohio State took on the Florida Gators for the NCAA College Championship. On the opening kickoff, OSU's Ted Ginn Jr found a small opening and sprinted 93 yards for a quick touchdown. Aha, a rout by the Buckeyes is on. Wrong! Final: Florida 41 Ohio State 14. In Super Bowl XLI, the Bears' Devon Hester took the opening kick-off, cut back to his right going full speed and was gone _ a 92-yard TD romp. Aha, an upset of the favoured Colts in the making? Wrong! There were still 59 minutes and 46 seconds left to play and wrote in my notebook, ''don't celebrate too soon, Chicago.''

The luck factor:

When Bear QB Rex Grossman threw a floater off his back foot that was picked off by DB Kelvin Hayden and returned 58 yards for an insurance touchdown, Coach Hook looked over at me and said: ''You still need a lot of luck to win the Super Bowl with a great quarterback, but bad luck always comes into play with a bad quarterback.'' Other than the kick-off return by Hester and a sparkling 52-yard run off right tackle by Jones, the Chicago offence went nowhere all night. Grossman completed 20 passes, but most were meaningless, with the exception of his touchdown strike to Muhammhad. He had a total of 165 yards through the air but 82 of those came playing catch up in the 4th quarter when Indy was in a 'bend, don't break' alignment. However, the latest word out of the Chicago camp is Rex will start next season as the #1 man behind centre. Help!

The turning point:

The Bears were on the move with 7:21 to go in the 3rd quarter trailing 19-14. Grossman hit Jones with a short pass over the middle for 14 yards and came right back with a strike to Muhammad for a 9 yard gain to the Colt 45. Surely, you run the ball and get that extra yard to get another set of downs. Instead, Grossman drops back to pass and gets sacked for an 11 yard loss. Now, it's 3rd and 12. Rex then stumbles, falls down, fumbles and eventually crashes to the turf for another big loss. Now its 4th and 23, forcing Brad Maynard to punt from his own 18 yard line. Chicago never threatened after that.


We all know that QB Peyton Manning received the Most Valuable Player Award (the 15th signal caller to get this honour) and it was well deserved _ to a point. He did a superb job of managing the game (the Colts controlled the ball for some 38 minutes and ran 33 more plays) but the Bears helped considerably at critical junctures. My choice for the MVP Award would be the Indianapolis offensive line. Glenn, Lilja, Scott, Diem and Saturday did an outstanding job the entire 60 minutes of protecting Manning (25-38 for 247 yards) while only allowing one sack. They also continually opened up creases in the lanes for RB's Addai and Rhodes who rushed for a combined total of 191 yards against a defense that was considered my many to be vastly superior. It will never happen (giving the top honor to five guys) but they would have gotten my vote...if I had one.

Thank you, Tony:

It didn't seem very significant when the Colts had the ball 4th and 6 on the Bear 17 yard line with a 1:49 remaining and a comfortable 12 point lead. Yet, the betting public were having nervous tremors because the line on the Over/Under total was 48.5 and the score stood at 29-17 or 46 combined points. Under ordinary circumstances, the head coach would probably call for a field goal, making it theoretically at least _ an insurmountable 32-17 lead. But it would also turn the Under to an Over in a heartbeat. I zeroed in on the Under in my column as well, rain or no rain and when HC Tony Dungy elected to simply run the ball up the middle for a one yard gain with special thanks to Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher for making the stop. Indy had to turn the ball over on downs and when time expired shortly thereafter _ the scoreline remained the same and lots of folks were very happy, myself included.

The Pro Bowl: AFC All-Stars (-4) against NFC All-Stars in Honolulu, Hawaii

If you're reading this column with your morning coffee, the game might still be on ESPN as almost 70 million votes were cast via Internet/Mobile Phone technology and named 48 players from each Conference to participate in this year's Pro Bowl. Like the SB week before, it was surrounded by celebrity parties, a golf tournament, local festivals and a big tailgate affair just prior to the game. For the record, I took the AFC (-4) here. In my opinion, they have better proven performers on both sides of the ball. Just before kickoff, if it's raining, I'll jump on the UNDER 65, but if not...taking the OVER. _ 6am This Morning on True Visions Channels 61, 65

London , England:

It was announced on February 2nd that the first 'NFL regular season' game to be held outside the continental United States _ will be played in Wembley Stadium on October 28 between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins. In the first week alone, there have been requests for more than 500,000 tickets in a stadium that holds 90,000 people. Who said American football is not popular on a global basis?

Last slot filled:

After interviewing a myriad of candidates, Jerry Jones, the enigmatic owner of the Cowboys officially announced last Friday that San Diego Charger DC Wade Phillips will be the new head coach. Thus, Philips becomes the 5th lead horse in the Dallas parade over the past 11 years. His previous head coaching record with four other teams is a paltry 48-42 and he's 0-3 in play-off games, so it will be interesting to see how this move plays out next season. Hopefully, WR Terrell Owens will give his blessing because otherwise, it will be a rocky road ahead.

Sincere appreciation:

Just a short note to say thanks to all my readers for their continuous support and the many kind words sent in person and via e-mail throughout my 5th season doing Coaching Points. Ended up at a 51.6% winning percentage and I'll take that any time. It seems to get tougher every year, but that's why we play the game. I'll be back in late April with my thoughts on the 2007 College Draft. See ya then!

Coach Dick Thornton is a regional marketing consultant and free lance journalist and can be reached at coachdt.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Design and R&D to meet customer needs

A Malaysian company has successfully developed capabilities in design and R&D, while its product innovation has also affected customer relationships

Cass Technology is a Malaysian company specialising in the design and development of security systems. It was set up in 1995 by a distributor of door access systems for the local Malaysian market.

Now a leading maker of security systems in Asia, the company has used its design and R&D capabilities to tailor its products to customer needs and to differentiate itself from the competition.

After tapping the collective industry experience of senior consultants and business partners, the company chose security systems as its core business and began building competence in design and R&D.

It built a manufacturing plant, acquired and developed infrastructure and talent to facilitate R&D, and invested in information technology to enable efficient product design and to implement quality and cost control.

The company has also used IT extensively to improve communication among employees and interact with current and prospective customers.

To find the right people to implement this move up the value chain, Cass Technology has tapped its networks, as well as used headhunters. The company headhunts entry-level engineers and relies on its network's recommendations for senior management candidates with proven R&D and business development expertise.

Cass Technology has achieved low rates of turnover even at entry-level positions, thanks in part to the training and professional development provided to all employees, as well as clearly defined career paths.

Drawing on its competence in design and R&D, the company has developed a wide range of security systems, including patent pending weapon control systems, biometric access-control systems and an alarm-monitoring system.

A recent innovation is a fingerprint-based identification system that scans a lower skin layer, enabling use with injured, contaminated or aged skin.

To ensure that its innovative products truly meet customers' requirements, Cass Technology emphasises frequent interaction with its dealers and distributors, through whom its products reach end users. The company conducts training sessions for its distributors every month and provides after-sales and technical site support.

Beyond channelling a monthly sales incentive to all dealers and distributors, the company rewards high-performing customers with attractive margins.

Having established strong relationships with dealers and distributors in more than 20 countries, Cass Technology now adopts a "pull" strategy for marketing its products. The company seeks to raise its profile by participating in awards and competitions, trade shows and seminars, and by working with local government authorities.

Cass Technology aims to draw on its design and R&D capabilities to become the world leader in the design and manufacture of security systems in the next 10 years.

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Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007
IN Brief

PTTEP issue popular

DEBT MARKET : PTT Exploration and Production's three-year issue of 3.5 billion baht worth of unsubordinated, unsecured debentures was 3.3 times oversubscribed, according to underwriters.

The coupon was set at 4.88% and the bonds carry an AAA rating from Tris Ratings. Standard Chartered Bank was the lead underwriter with Bank of Ayudhya, Krung Thai Bank and Thanachart Securities co-underwriters. The issue is the first corporate debenture issue in the market this year, and the first baht debenture by PTTEP in four years.

PTTEP shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 98.50 baht, down 50 satang, in trade worth 423.37 million baht.

Registrations up

PROPERTY :A total of 72,723 new housing units were registered in Greater Bangkok in the first 11 months of last year, according to the Real Estate Information Centre.

The number was greater than the total registrations of 72,072 new units in 2005, and the centre expected the full-year figure for 2006 would be 78,000 to 79,000 units, or a gain of around 9%, said director Samma Kitsin.

From the 11 months of data, about 55% of the total or 40,059 units were single houses, 1% or 855 units were semi-detached houses, 22% or 15,966 units were townhouses and commercial units and 22% or 15,843 units were condominiums.

While single-house registrations were down, the proportion of condominiums has risen steadily from 12.2% of the total in 2004 to 15.1% in 2005 and 22% in 2006.

Mr Samma said average registrations of new units per year stood at 72,000 from 1996 to 2005 but the number rose to 81,500 during the 12-year period between 1995 and 2006. The market peaked at 178,853 units in 1995 and 176,616 in 1996.

"Although total registrations of new units are high, they are still less than prior to the 1997 crisis. We should carefully watch the the growth in condominiums," he said.

Rice bids on Tuesday

COMMODITIES :The Foreign Trade Department will open bids on Tuesday to sell a total 283,000 tonnes of rice from the state stockpile.

The amount consists of 183,000 tonnes of fragrant Hom Mali rice from the 2004-05 crop season and 100,000 tonnes of white rice from the 2005-06 harvest.

Apiradi Tantraporn, the department's director-general, said the sale would not only clear out the government's huge stockpile but would ease the current supply shortage in the market.

Winning bidders will have 30 days to take the rice from state warehouses if they win fewer than 20,000 tonnes, and 60 days for larger amounts.

Thailand's rice exports in January totalled 598,000 tonnes and the country expects to ship about 8.5 million tonnes this year, about one million tonnes higher than the amount last year.

Credit ratings on agenda

INVESTING :The Thai Bond Market Association and Nomura Research Institute will hold a seminar titled "Usage of Credit Ratings for Cross-border Investment" on Feb 23 at the Landmark Hotel.

The free seminar will focus on the importance of credit rating agencies in cross-border investment, and will include presentations by Tris, Fitch Ratings, Pimco Singapore and the ThaiBMA. For more information, contact the ThaiBMA at 0-2252-3336 ext 110, 119, 311.

Anti-ageing conference

HEALTH CARE :Bumrungrad International and the Vitallife Wellness Center, in co-operation with the Thai Anti-Ageing Medicine Association, will holding the Bangkok 2007 Conference on Anti-Ageing for medical professionals from Feb 15-16 at Bumrungrad Hospital.

The conference, to be held in English, will feature briefings by world experts on new anti-ageing developments. For more information, contact 0-2667-1282 or e-mail

14-day bills yield 4.74%

DEBT MARKET :The Bank of Thailand yesterday auctioned 25 billion baht worth of 14-day bills for a weighted average accepted yield of 4.74607%. Accepted bid yields ranged from 4.737% to 4.75%, with the bid coverage ratio 2.59 times.

Reserves up $800m

FINANCIAL DATA :International reserves totalled $66.5 billion as of Feb 2, compared with $65.7 billion the week before, the Bank of Thailand said yesterday.

The net forward position was $7.9 billion as of Feb 2, compared with $8.2 billion the week before. Net claims on government were 62.5 billion baht, compared with 61.4 billion. Net claims on financial institutions were -935.6 billion baht, compared with -924.4 billion. Reserve money was 827 billion baht, compared with 815.8 billion the week before.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Seminar shines spotlight on 'stylish SMEs'

Thailand-based small and medium-sized industries looking for ways to expand their horizons need to distinguish their products and market them well. These winning strategies will be discussed by leading panelists on Wednesday, Feb 14 at a seminar titled "Stylish SMEs - Getting Ready to Go Global: Secrets of Success from Thailand's Most Stylish Competitors".

Organised by Kenan Institute Asia, the Commerce and Industry ministries and the Office of SMEs Promotion, the event will take place at the Siam City Hotel.

Thai SMEs have made great strides over the past five years, notably in access to funding. But even with good financing, many new Thai SMEs do not survive. Successful companies need distinctive styles that are effectively communicated and delivered to global customers.

Studies around the world have shown that the greatest growth in jobs and income does not come from giant companies, but from the smaller, more agile companies with the style and skills to expand quickly.

With low-cost competitors looming all around Thailand, Thai companies must delight customers with innovation, quality and distinctive design. New technologies and techniques offer even small companies the means to attract global customers and deliver cost effectively.

These issues will be covered at the seminar, where participants will also have a chance to meet successful entrepreneurs, learn the secrets of their success and hear how the government plans to help Thai SMEs succeed in the future.

For more information, call 0-2229-3131

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

SGA looks for niche in flying to smaller airports


Having recently upgraded itself from a charter provider to an airline with scheduled flights, SGA Airlines is looking at flying to all of Thailand's small airports not served by larger airlines.

The country's first commuter carrier is establishing an operating alliance with the no-frills airline Nok Air, owned partly by Thai Airways International, to offer an integrated network that allows both airlines to feed passengers to each other.

It means that SGA will offer flights from larger airports served by Nok Air to small and remote airfields in locations not well served by roads.

''We hope to operate alongside Nok Air to wherever it flies to,'' said Jain Charnnarong, president of Siam General Aviation Co (SGA).

''Both of us will complement each other. Nok Air operates trunk routes while SGA offers connections to small towns where large airlines find it impossible to operate to,'' he explained.

He said the two companies would soon set up a code-share agreement as part of the wider co-operation plan including co-branding, though he denied that there had been talk about Nok Air acquiring shares in SGA.

SGA's flight timetables have been synchronised with those of Nok Air to ensure minimum connection times, while SGA aircraft now carry in Nok Air's bird livery.

SGA on Feb 1 launched its second and third routes, Chiang Mai-Phrae and Chiang Mai-Pai, in addition to Bangkok-Hua Hin, which the airline has been offering for two years. It offers one flight a day on the two new routes, adding to the three daily flights on the Hua Hin sector.

SGA plans to launch its fourth route, Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai, on April 1, and will explore other opportunities in the northern region, said Dr Jain.

SGA operates two Cessna 208B Grand Caravan propeller planes, each capable of carrying 12 passengers for 1,600 km at a cruising speed of 340 km/hour.

SGA plans to add a third aircraft of a similar model, valued at around $2 million, in November to support its growing network.

While initial network expansion would be in the northern region, SGA would soon move to southern Thailand to tap traffic potential, he said.

The majority of SGA's passengers are expected to be local people, both tourists and business travellers. To ensure viability, the airline needs to fill 55-60% of the seats on each flight.

The all-inclusive one-way introductory fare for Chiang Mai-Pai, which takes about 20 minutes, is 1,450 baht, and 1,600 baht for Chiang Mai-Phrae (around 30 minutes). The fare for the planned Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai route will be around 1,900 baht.

Established in 2001, SGA received a permit to non-scheduled flights in October 2002 before being licensed to offer scheduled flights in August last year.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

Dabur acquires oncology unit from Biosciences in Thailand


New Delhi - India's Dabur Pharma Ltd has acquired the entire oncology (anti-cancer) sales and distribution business from its longtime partner Biosciences Company Ltd in Thailand.

The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, is part of the company's plan to increase its hold on the oncology market.

Dabur Pharma has also announced the sale of its entire domestic non-oncology formulation business to Vadodara-based Alembic for 1.59 billion rupees (1.29 billion baht), plus the actual net working capital on the closing date. The non-oncology formulation business mainly comprises high-growth lifestyle segments such as cardiovascular, diabetic and gastrointestinal, gynaecology and other areas.

Dabur Pharma is now looking for more oncology acquisitions in Europe, the United States and less regulated markets such as Brazil and Russia. "We are also looking at strengthening our presence in markets such as Philippines and Malaysia," said chief operating officer Ajay Vij.

The company wants a presence in China as well, he added. The Thai acquisition, completed through its wholly owned subsidiary in the country, greatly strengthens Dabur's presence in the Thai oncology generics market, where it is already the leader. It also gives Dabur Pharma access to all of Thailand's cancer hospitals.

The deal was funded from internal accruals. The marketing network of Biosciences will now be completely utilised to promote Dabur's oncology products.

Dabur, a market leader in generic oncology drugs, has about 30 cancer medicines in the Thai market.

"The oncology market in Thailand is estimated to be growing at the rate of 25% [a year]," said Mr Vij. "Dabur, which entered the market in 1999, is currently growing at 29% and has a market share of approximately 17% among the generic companies."

Biosciences primarily handles Dabur's business in Thailand as 90% of its products come from the India-based firm.

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007

The truth about growth and value stocks

Bin Jiang and Timothy Koller

What's in a name? In the vernacular of equity markets, the words "growth" and "value" convey the specific characteristics of stock categories that are deeply embedded in the investment strategies of investors and fund managers. Leading US market indices, such as the S&P 500, the Russell 1000, and the the Dow Jones Wilshire 2500, all divide themselves into growth- and value-style indices. Academics also use these categories as shorthand, arguing at length over which investment approach creates more value - a value strategy or a growth strategy.

These names explicitly convey the expectation that growth stocks will have higher revenue growth prospects than value stocks. And investors, even large institutional ones, often make decisions based largely on those expectations.

It's not illogical that executives would often draw from this reality an assumption that having the label growth or value attached to a company's shares can actually drive prices up or push them lower. In our experience, many executives have expended considerable effort plotting to attract more growth investors, believing that an influx of growth investors leads to higher valuations of a stock. Some executives even turn this assumption into a rationale for using a high share price to defend risky acquisition programmes - for example, in deference to presumed shareholder expectations of growth.

The trouble is that such thinking is wrong in both cases. Evidence comes from a recent McKinsey analysis of the S&P/Barra indices of S&P 500 companies. Although growth stocks are indeed valued at a higher level than value stocks on average, as measured by market-to-book ratios (M/Bs), their revenue growth rates are virtually indistinguishable from those of value stocks. The growth index's 10.1% median compounded revenue growth rate for 2002 to 2005 is not statistically different from the 8.7% median of the value index. Thus, the probability that a company designated as a growth stock will deliver a given growth rate is virtually indistinguishable from the probability that a value company will do so.

What does distinguish companies on growth indices from those on value indices is return on invested capital, or ROIC. For the value index, the median ROIC, averaged over three years, and excluding goodwill, is only 15%, compared with 35% for the growth index. In other words, the average growth stock is likely to deliver twice the average value stock's book return on capital. In fact, the correlation of M/Bs with ROIC in 2005 was 20%, versus 1% for growth rates.

The point is not that ROIC is a better filter for separating growth stocks from value stocks; it is that the concepts of growth versus value are just not meaningful. Companies can have high price-to-earnings ratios (P/Es) and M/Bs because they have high growth and moderate ROICs, low growth and high ROICs, or high growth and high ROICs. Branded consumer products companies, for example, have high ROICs but modest growth, while hot retail companies have high growth and modest ROICs. This point may seem counterintuitive, but it is actually consistent with the conceptual drivers of value.

Both a company's ability to grow and its ability to earn returns greater than its cost of capital generate higher cash flows - and hence higher valuations. Therefore, a high M/B or P/E for a company that is not growing fast is hardly surprising. At such companies, higher returns simply make up for slower growth.

Consider two otherwise similar companies, one with a higher ROIC. For these companies to generate the same growth in future cash flows, the higher-ROIC company needs to invest less capital back into its business than the lower-ROIC company. The excess cash at the higher-ROIC company can then be ploughed into higher-return projects or given back to shareholders.

Naturally, a company with a higher ROIC is valued at a higher level. In fact, any growth index includes many familiar names that enjoy high ROICs but actually have delivered limited growth relative to their industries from 2002 to 2005. Examples include Boeing (0.5%), Heinz (1.6%), Anheuser-Busch (3.5%), Altria (3.5%), DuPont (4.5%), Kimberly-Clark (5.4%), Hershey (5.5%), Coca-Cola (5.7%) - compared with a median growth rate of 9.6% for S&P 500 companies.

Furthermore, executives who believe that attracting more growth investors will improve the value of businesses are bound to be disappointed. Our analysis of companies whose stocks have been newly designated as growth stocks clearly shows that growth investors don't precipitate a change in valuation levels. Rather, they respond to it, moving into a stock only after the share price has already moved to a higher M/B or P/E. And while the number of growth investors does sometimes increase up to three months before a sustained increase in the M/B, it often takes them as long as 12 months after an increase in valuation.

Stocks downgraded from growth to value show a more striking pattern: when these stocks changed to value status, their M/Bs peaked and then headed into a sustained decline. Here again, growth investors hold onto a stock until they regard its revaluation as a trend. Sometimes they reach that conclusion fairly quickly, divesting within the first quarter after the stock's revaluation. Often they take much longer - as long as two-and-a-half years.

Simple attempts to discriminate between companies by a dimension or two will always fail to capture the variety of their characteristics, particularly in cyclical industries, where a company's ROIC may change radically from year to year. Even worse, simple classification attempts may mislead investors. Many so-called value companies are distressed and in need of a turnaround. Companies and investors would be better off focusing on a company's fundamental performance and valuation rather than making arbitrary style comparisons. That's what the best investors do.

Bin Jiang is a consultant in McKinsey's New York office, where Tim Koller is a partner. This article is adapted from one originally published in The McKinsey Quarterly, 2006. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission. For additional Quarterly articles related to this topic, see

Bangkok Post
Sunday February 11, 2007