Thousands march against liquor firm listing

by PLOY CHITSOMBOON, Bangkok Post, July 21, 2005

Bangkok, Thailand -- About 10,000 Buddhist monks, nuns, students, and social activists yesterday took part in a mass protest, calling on the government not to allow listing of Thai Beverage Plc on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

The protest, led by 128 religious and social groups, including the Santi Asoke, Dhammakaya, and Dhamma Power Foundation sects, took place at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the SET and parliament. The protesters demanded regulators rescind an earlier decision to allow the company to list on the bourse.

Owned by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Thai Beverage is a holding company under which Chang Beer, Mekhong rum, Saeng Som, Hong Thong and other well-known brands of beer and liquor are produced.

The company filed its plans to list on the stock exchange with regulators last Thursday in what is expected to be Thailand's largest ever initial public offering (IPO).

But the proposed listing has generated a good deal of criticism due to the perception that the move represents state support for the consumption of alcohol.

Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, former leader of the Palang Dharma party, noted that Buddhist, Islamic and Christian teachings all offered cautions regarding the dangers of drinking alcohol, and questioned how the SEC could permit the company to list.

``There are efforts taking place quietly to allow the company to list on the SET. We know from past experience that the regulators would quietly try and move forward with the listing and that's why we are here protesting,'' he said.

Maj-Gen Chamlong cited studies by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that showed that Thailand already ranks fifth in terms of alcohol consumption worldwide, and warned that a public listing for Thai Beverage would only push the rate higher.

``It's a total disaster. By listing ... , the company can earn 100 billion baht. That money would be spent on all sorts of marketing campaigns to try and get the public to consume even more alcohol,'' he said.

Maj-Gen Chamlong says 63,942 people had signed a petition to call on parliament to pass a law preventing liquor-related businesses from listing on the local bourse.

Patareeya Benjapolchai, a SET executive vice-president, said after receiving a petition from Maj-Gen Chamlong that the final decision on the listing had yet to be made.

Thai Beverage had planned to list on the SET earlier this year, but was forced to postpone its plans in March following strong public opposition.

The company hopes to raise as much as 40 billion baht through the offering.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: