It’s an inconvenient truth that doesn’t bode well for the future. But let’s face reality in an honest way. The Global Wealth Report 2018 published by the Credit Suisse Research Institute showed Thailand scoring 90.2 on the Gini coefficient (also the Gini index), making it a country with the widest income inequality in the ASEAN, and one of four worst performers on the world chart, which include Ukraine (95.5), Kazakhstan (95.2), and Egypt (90.9).
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The Gini coefficient, named after Italian demographer Corrado Gini, is a statistic measure of the degree of inequality represented by a set of values from zero to 1, or 100 depending, zero being perfect equality in either income or wealth. Hence, the higher the values, the greater the wealth is being more unevenly distributed.
The Credit Suisse report visualizes the global wealth distribution in the form of a wealth pyramid, which places adults in one of four wealth bands: under-10,000 USD, between 10,000 and 100,000 USD, between 100,000 and 1 million USD, and over-1 million USD.
In Thailand, the distribution of adults by wealth range is heavily concentrated at the bottom end of the wealth spectrum. Precisely, 91.7% of adults belong in the under-10,000 USD wealth band, 7.5% in the between 10,000 and 100,000 USD band, and 0.7% in the between 100,000 and 1 million USD band. Only 0.1% are members of the over-1 million USD wealth range. This translates into a high income inequality value of 90.2 on the Gini coefficient.
As for Asia, there is a substantial degree of polarization between high-income countries (Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore) and the low-income countries (including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Vietnam). On average the Asia-Pacific region (excluding India and China) has a high income inequality value of 90.1 on the Gini index.
Across the ASEAN membership, Indonesia comes in second at 84.0, followed by the Philippines at 82.6 on the Gini index. Like in Thailand, only 0.1% of Indonesian and Philippine adult populations are members of the over-1 million USD wealth range.
Myanmar has a Gini index value of 58.2, making it a country with the narrowest income gap in the ASEAN. Interestingly, 98.9% of its adult population belongs in the low-income wealth band with 0% in the 100,000 USD range and beyond.
In Singapore, only 13.8% of its adult population are members of the under-10,000 USD wealth range, while 38.2% belong in the between 10,000 and 100,000 USD range, and the majority 44% in the between 100,000 and 1 million USD wealth band. Its income inequality value on the Gini index is 75.8.
The Gini coefficient shows the statistical dispersion of income or wealth among the citizens of a country. It’s the most common method of measuring inequality. The scale ranges from zero to 1, or 100 depending. A Gini coefficient of zero refers to perfect equality in the data being analyzed, while 1 (or 100) means there’s a maximum inequality. Gini values are key to understanding a wealth pattern that gives us an idea where to start to tackle the problem.
Despite the omnipresence of the Internet in society today, there seems to be a disconnect between the impact of pollution and access to the information needed to protect public health. Strange as it may sound. According to a 2017 estimate by the environmental tech company Plume Labs, only 0.246% of the earth has access to that vital information.
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As air pollution levels rise from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok to Yangon, and Phnom Penh to Jakarta, it’s wise to stay abreast of the latest developments. There are many websites and apps that measure the concentrations of both PM2.5 and PM10 and other pollutants. Here are three useful apps to check air quality wherever you are.
– Air Quality: Real-time AQI App –
The Real-time AQI app for Android and iOS shows air quality information from more than 10,000 monitoring stations in over 60 countries, including mainland China, Korea, Japan and countries across Southeast Asia. It provides, among other things, data about the concentrations of smaller airborne pollutants (PM2.5) and larger particulates (PM10). The former refers to extremely small particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter or about 3% the diameter of human hair.
Updated hourly, the same information is linked to the developer website http://aqicn.org along with data on harmful gases and other readings such as temperatures, pressures, and humidity. The site also publishes visualized maps and protective mask recommendations from the global independent campaign organization Greenpeace. Get to know three types of masks to protect you from PM2.5 that ordinary surgical masks cannot. Whether it’s on the mobile app or the website, good infographics are worth a thousand words and a good place to start researching.
– Plume Air Report App –
Plume Air Report on the iPhone is a reporting and forecasting app that tracks real-time air pollution levels for every city in the world. The environmental tech company (website https://plumelabs.com) is the maker of “Flow,” a mobile personal air tracker that measures harmful pollutants indoors and outdoors. Real-time data including air quality indices, temperatures, UV levels, winds, and humidity are updated hourly along with pollution forecasts for the next 24 hours and statistics for the past 7 days. Flow makes it possible to track harmful air pollutants even in cities without AQI monitoring stations. The device is open for pre-order. Check the website for availability.
– Air Quality: AirVisual App –
AirVisual is a real-time and forecast air quality app that provides AQI indices for over 70 countries worldwide. Available on both Android and iOS, the free app gathers information from more than 9,000 locations via global networks of government monitoring stations and AirVisual’s own sensors. By giving historical, real-time, and forecast air pollution data, AirVisual is a pocket guide to avoiding harmful airborne particles. The AirVisual Earth Map is a good place to start tracking pollution levels and weather conditions with hourly updates.
In Southeast Asia, notably Bangkok, Chiangmai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Jakarta, thick haze of air pollution isn’t going away any time soon. As the fight for clean air continues, it pays to be in the know and avoid places with high concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10. The mobile apps mentioned above are three of many technologies designed to get the message across in the interest of public health and safety.
Air pollution is just one aspect of the wider environmental and health problems in major cities around the ASEAN. It’s a wake-up call among city dwellers from Bangkok to Jakarta to Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.
The crux of the matter is the high concentrations of small airborne particles (known as PM2.5) that enter the body through the nose and mouth. They pose greater health risks than larger particles (known as PM10), which the body is capable of eliminating through coughing, sneezing, and swallowing.
Technically speaking, PM2.5 refers to particulate matters with a mass aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micrometers. They are capable of traveling deep into the body causing anything from mild symptoms such as nose and throat irritation to more serious conditions like lung and heart problems, even lung cancer.
To get the information across to the public, a monitoring system was devised. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a number used to communicate how polluted the air is in real time, and how bad it is forecast to become. AQI readings above 150 are considered to have direct impacts on the health conditions of sensitive groups of people.
While industrial pollution left cities across China and India in the smog, countries in Southeast Asia have become alert to the man-made problem and begun taking action to reduce PM2.5 levels. Let’s hope that it’s not too late.
A few weeks into the new year 2018, it was a terrible shock to find thick haze of air pollution blanketing the entire landscape of Bangkok Metropolis. The spike in PM2.5 concentrations that cut down visibility and posed a threat to public health was blamed on a mix of humidity and seasonal inactivity in the air flow.
The same also happened to Chiangmai in the northern part of the country, and the haze hasn’t fully lifted. While local governments called on farmers not to burn their fields in preparation for the new planting season in Chiangmai, Bangkok authorities were looking for ways to free up traffic snarls and reduce air pollutants from industrial plants.
In Jakarta, where traffic jams were just as bad, the need to reduce air pollution has been a hot topic for quite some time. Jakarta’s problems stemmed from rapid increases in vehicular emissions in the city and industrial pollution in the northern part of the city. A recent study showed that over 60% of the population of the Indonesian capital were facing increased risks in respiratory and pulmonary disease.
Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City were no exception when it came to air pollution from vehicular emissions. Motorbikes remained the most popular means of transportation nationwide. The country with a population of 92 million had over 45 million registered motorcycles. A 2013 study showed that high PM2.5 levels were linked to about 40,000 deaths, equivalent in seriousness to a 5% economic loss.
Here’s an update on Southeast Asia’s automotive markets at the close of 2017. Used cars made up the largest sector in the car markets of Myanmar, and Cambodia. Thailand ranked number 12 among the world’s top motor vehicle producers. Indonesia was the largest car market in Southeast Asia. Region-wide, Toyota reigned supreme as the bestseller except in Malaysia, which was happy to stick with homegrown brands.
The ASEAN car market represents a diverse assortment of brands and a great deal of variety in the way member countries respond to their specific needs. The mix includes thriving homegrown brands, world-class motor vehicle producers, as well as heavens for new and pre-owned cars and trucks.
– Thailand and Indonesia –
Thailand and Indonesia are major regional economic players. Indonesia boasted the largest automotive market, while Thailand ranked number 12 among the world’s leading motor vehicle producers. In 2017, its total production was expected to top two million units, of which more than half were exported. A slight decrease in 2017 export volumes was more than offset by a 12-percent increase in the internal car market.
The Thai automotive industry has been a success story since 2000. The country produced a little over 400,000 motor vehicles in that year. Toyota Hilux has long been the bestselling model especially in the provinces throughout Thailand. Apart from carrying goods and agricultural products, the truck was used in various forms of human transportation. But for people living in or near the city, Toyota and Honda cars were the preferred choices.
Indonesia, the ASEAN’s largest automotive market, ranked number 17 among the world’s top motor vehicle producers. Its 2017 production was expected to far exceed 1.2 million units, up from 1,177,389 in 2016, during which 1,048,134 new units were sold on the domestic market. Sport utility vehicles (SUV), all purpose vehicles (APV), and larger trucks were the favorites, considering Indonesia had the largest population in the ASEAN.
The two countries are grappling with the same problem – traffic congestions. A TomTom traffic index ranked Bangkok, and Jakarta number 2, and 3, respectively, among the cities with the worst midtown traffic snarl-ups. It was a high price to pay since it was the automotive industry that generated incomes from exports, employment, and tax revenues. As technology advanced, both countries were hoping to count on electric cars and new urban public transport to improve traffic flow.
– Myanmar and Cambodia –
It was a different situation in Myanmar and Cambodia. Strong economic growth in recent years has seen sharp increases in demands for pre-owned motor vehicles. In both countries, new cars accounted for less than 10 percent of total sales in 2016, during which Myanmar imported as many as 120,000 secondhand vehicles from Japan. Here Toyota Probox was the favorite. Trouble was the all-purpose vehicle from Japan was designed for driving on the left side of the road (the steering wheel being on the right-hand side). After independence, Myanmar had changed to move traffic in the right side of the path. If you are front seat passengers, watch out for passing and oncoming vehicles when you get out of the car in Myanmar. Judge the space available when getting off the bus, because you could find yourself in the middle of the road.
To solve the problem, the Myanmar Government has enacted a law banning the importation of secondhand automobiles designed for driving on the left side of the road. But it would take a long time to see any results. To meet an increasing demand for new automobiles, Suzuki has recently opened a factory in Myanmar. In 2017, it produced 2,700 Suzuki Carry trucks, of which about 1,000 units were sold in the domestic market. In big cities like Yangon and Mandalay, more new cars from Europe and Japan continued to make their presence felt, albeit very slowly.
Meanwhile in Cambodia, secondhand Toyota Camry and Lexus SUV’s were the favorites among people in urban areas. The country imported pre-owned automobiles mostly from the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In the small new-car market, the Cambodians generally preferred the Toyota brand with pick-up trucks being the all-time bestsellers. The same was true in nearby Thailand and Laos, where the light-duty trucks were used to carry both farm products and human passengers.
– Malaysia –
The only ASEAN country with successful homegrown brands, Malaysia boasted the third largest automobile market in the Region. Here, new car sales exceeded 580,000 units per year with the Perodua taking the largest portion of the market. (UMW Corporation held 38 percent of shares in the Malaysian car manufacturer.) Perodua sold about 200,000 cars per year, far outranking Honda which sold a little over half that number. Proton, another homegrown Malaysian brand, came in third place, while Toyota in fourth.
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Keep an eye on the Philippines, whose automobile market grew by a whopping 20 percent in 2016. The same was expected in 2017, during which new car sales were expected to be about 450,000 units. Singapore was an entirely different story. It was government policy to keep new car sales growth below 0.25 percent. Meantime, it was focusing on proper maintenance of existing automobiles and developing urban public transit, for which Singapore has already invested US$22.9 billion.
Bangkok was at the highest place on the chart of Top Ten Global Destination Cities attracting 19.41 million visitors in 2016, outranking London, Paris, Dubai, and Singapore. A Mastercard index released recently showed the Thai capital benefited the most from international travel, while further growth in visitor arrivals were in the forecast for 2017.
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The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index predicted that Bangkok’s visitor arrivals would increase by 4.0 percent in the 2017 calendar year, while Singapore was forecast to move up one notch growing by 2.6 percent and outranking New York (at minus 2.4 percent). Meantime, Kuala Lumpur was likely to post a strong 7.2 percent gain in visitor arrivals for 2017, enabling it to keep its eighth place on the chart.
From 2009 to 2016, two ASEAN cities also saw strong growth in visitor arrivals, namely: Jakarta up 18.2 percent, and Hanoi up 16.4 percent. Of all 132 destinations across the globe, Osaka was at the top with a whopping 24.0 percent growth in overnight visitor arrivals during the 8-year period.
Overall, international visitors to leading global destination cities increased in the 2016 calendar year. As for 2017, Tokyo’s visitor numbers were forecast to increase by as much as 12.2 percent, making it the strongest growth in visitors among the top ten.
The Mastercard index was more than just a ranking of top destination cities across the globe. Apart from international visitor volume, it also looked into tourist spending that contributed to furthering economic growth of countries. For the 2016 calendar year, Dubai was at the top with overnight visitors spending $28.50 billion, followed by New York ($17.02 billion), London ($16.09 billion), Singapore ($15.69 billion), and Bangkok ($14.08 billion), all in USD. Destination cities benefited greatly from tourism. Shopping accounted for 22.9 percent of tourist spending, local service 21.5 percent, and food and beverages 20.6 percent).
Situated near the MRT Kampaengpet Station, Jatujak Plaza is open on weekdays, too, except either Monday or Tuesday depending. It’s a popular marketplace for not only furniture, home furnishings and decorating items, and souvenirs, but also plenty of pet animals from dogs to cats to fishes. And the list goes on.
The Plaza at Jatujak Park sits right next to a vast built-up area set aside for the weekend market. Furniture, home décor items, and a plethora of lifestyle goods combine to give the Plaza its distinctive character. The marketplace had been the hub of pet lovers before it was transformed into rental spaces for businesses, notably art and craft retailers.
As time went by, Jatujak Plaza continued to attract more and more business people from makers of furniture and home décor items to architects, interior designers, and fashion stylists. Over the years it has become a popular rendezvous for homeowners as well as hotel and hospitality business entrepreneurs who are in the market for cool furniture and décor supplies. Some furniture makers have retail businesses here, while others import decorating goods from regional sources, notably Indonesia and the Philippines.
The plaza’s advantage lies in its proximity to an MRT station and business hours on weekdays. The marketplace is open from 10 AM to 6 PM daily, but you have to pick the right day to shop. Most retail businesses here are closed on Monday, while others choose to stay closed on Tuesday, too. Some shops don’t open exactly on the hour. For your convenience, it is recommended that you be there around 11 AM. There is a pet zone located at the further end.
Four ASEAN countries are listed in the 2017 Global Climate Risk Index Report as among the 10 countries most strongly affected by world climate change between 1996 and 2015.
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“Who Suffers Most From Extreme Weather Events? Weather-Related Loss Events in 2015 and 1996 to 2015 In Order To Report Effects of Climate Change in Various Countries Around The World,” a 2017 Global Climate Risk Index report released by Germanwatch, shows that climate change caused more than 528,000 people to lose their lives between 1996 and 2015, with financial losses amounting to US$3.08 trillion. UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) estimates suggest that by 2030, total losses will be two to three times greater, and by 2050, four to five times these amounts.
Loss of life, economic loss, and number of catastrophic events summarized in this data table show that the harshest effects have fallen on “developing countries” not rich in resources. In the the top ten are four ASEAN nations. Myanmar is in second place on the worldwide list; most of us probably remember the beating it took from Cyclone Nargis in 2008. An island nation, fifth-place Philippines is listed with the highest number of natural disasters. Vietnam takes the number 8 spot, with number 10 Thailand right behind, its economic losses – $7,574,620,000 US – greater than any of the others. 13th place Cambodia nearly makes the cut to join its ASEAN friends.
The Climate Risk Index gives clear indications of the huge effects climate change will have on development, as well as on personal property, quality of life, and national GDP in these countries. A secure future depends on each country having a solid plan for cooperating with nature and with each other. Sitting back and doing nothing as before isn’t an option.
It’s fun going on the hunt for art galleries featuring works that will excite the imagination. They can be anything from small art scenes to full-sized museums of fine arts, classics, and the avant-garde that goes above and beyond what is expected. Here are five galleries in the ASEAN that you should visit at least once.
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– National Gallery Singapore –
The National Gallery Singapore is a new visual arts institute. It oversees the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asia art. In 2016, it won several prestigious awards for its roles in enhancing the vibrancy of Singapore’s tourism landscape, including “Best Attraction Experience,” “Breakthrough Contribution to Tourism,” and “Best Customer Service (Attractions).” Featuring the island country’s unique heritage and geographical location, the National Gallery collaborates with leading museums worldwide to present Southeast Asian art in a wider context, thereby positioning Singapore as regional and international hub for the visual arts.
Officially opened in July 2016, the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum has four exhibition halls, a screening room and indoor/outdoor spaces for show openings and live performances. It was founded by Jean Michel Beurdeley, his late wife Patsri Bunnag and his son Eric Bunnag Booth. MAIIAM sits in a 3,000-square-meter converted warehouse in Chiang Mai’s historic crafts district of Sankampang. It was designed by “allzone,” an architectural firm known for the contextual approach. The museum has the Bunnag-Beurdeley family’s collections on permanent display, which includes seminal works by the masters of Thai contemporary art.
A public art gallery, ILHAM is committed to supporting the development and understanding of, as well as pleasure in Malaysian modern and contemporary art in both regional and international contexts. The gallery engages a diverse range of audiences through exhibitions and education as well as public programs that seek to bring society closer to the art and the artists behind them.
Formerly known as Mon Decor Gallery, ART:1 was founded in 1983 and later grew to become a pioneer in the art gallery business in Jakarta. It won the Favorite Art Gallery of the Year Award in 2010. Over the years, the then Mon Décor Gallery has earned numerous recognitions, including the Favorite Art Gallery in Indonesia Award, and the Purwakalaghra Museum Award for Best Facility. In 2011 Mon Décor reinvented its initial fine art gallery concept and expanded into a private museum, art spaces, and an art institute supporting the art infrastructure of Indonesia. This shift in concept resulted in its moving into a bigger exhibition space in Kemayoran, a sub-district of central Jakarta. Art:1 now has 4,000 square meters featuring original works of art by old and modern masters, as well as contemporary artists, curated over the past 30 years.
Albeit rather small, the Kult Gallery features a bewildering array of works of art that will arouse your curiosity and interest. Founded in 2009, Kult is Singapore’s first street art gallery in a lowbrow urban style located at Emily Hill. It showcases interesting works by both local and international artists. Kult aims to promote young street artists and illustrators, shining a spotlight on future talents. It features autographed editions, original works, and other obscure pieces which defy the conventional and challenge the norm.
Singapore Changi Airport ranks first on a worldwide airport ranking for 2017. Jakarta International (Soekarno-Hatta) and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International are almost at the bottom ranking Nos. 62 and 68, respectively. That’s out of a total of 76.
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A recent survey conducted on Twitter by Airhelp compared 76 airports around the world using three criteria. It presented a picture of how well they performed on a scale of 1 to 10 based on statistics of the quality of service, on-time performance, and passenger experience at the airports listed.
Singapore Changi Airport ranked first on the world chart scoring 9.07. Munich Franz Josef Strauss International came in second scoring 8.66, and third-place Hong Kong International at 8.22. The top three airports received a perfect score of 10 in the quality of service.
The survey showed Kuala Lumpur International at No.18 scoring 7.5 on the world chart. That’s No. 2 in the ASEAN Region. Jakarta International (Soekarno-Hatta) and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International took distant third and fourth places in the Region scoring 6.54 and 6.30, respectively.
Kuwait International came in at the bottom of the world chart scoring 5.02. The survey has no information the airports of Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, or the Philippines for this year.
Public parks are the “lungs of the city.” They are part of a natural ecosystem that sustains clear air and provides benefits vital to the quality of life in an urban environment. Here are the largest public parks in six ASEAN capitals by total area.
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– The East Coast Park, Singapore – 457 acres
The East Coast Park is the largest public park in Singapore at 457 acres (1,155 Rai). Located along the southeastern shoreline, the beach park offers plentiful recreation benefits and opportunities for leisure. It’s one of Singapore’s natural life support systems, thanks to its rich and diverse tropical trees and other plant species. The public park contains a 10-km-long paved track, which has become a prime site for joggers, walkers, cyclists and inline-skaters. Other free-of-charge sports and exercise amenities located in this park include a skateboard area, beach volleyball court and several outdoor fitness stations.
– Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 227 acres
At 227 acres (571 Rai), Lake Gardens, or Taman Tasek Perdana is the most popular public park in Kuala Lumpur. Its major attractions include a deer park, butterfly park, and orchid garden, as well as picturesque scenes of the lake itself. That’s not all. Lake Gardens also has a zoo and interesting collections of rare birds. It offers ample opportunities to discover the hibiscus or bunga raya, Malaysia’s national flower. Due to its popularity, Lake Gardens can get mobbed by admiring visitors on weekends, but during the week it is a peaceful spot and one of the few places in KL, where you escape from traffic noise. It has numerous shady places, too, for a pleasant picnic.
– Rama IX Park, Bangkok,Thailand – 200 acres
The 200-acre (505-Rai) Rama IX Park is the largest green space in Bangkok. It’s home to beautiful botanical gardens, a large lake, and many attractions inspired by countries around the world. The park was built to celebrate King Bhumibol’s 60th birthday anniversary in 1987. The expansive green space on the outskirts of Bangkok is set apart for recreation and aesthetic purposes away from the city center. Despite all the interesting things to see, the park remains surprisingly free of tourists and for locals, that’s plenty of opportunities for leisure.