Stickman's Weekly Column October 10th, 2010

The Unsolvable Equation



He was young, bored of life in the US and addicted to Thailand. He sold his business, turned his back on the States and retired to Bangkok in his late 30s. He had what he thought was plenty of money, enough to last a lifetime, but just a couple of years later it had run out and early retirement had come to an abrupt end. What went wrong?

My best guess is that he arrived in Thailand with around a quarter of a million dollars, at the time about 11 million baht. He lived the high life, residing in a flash condo, dining in the best restaurants and partying with a new girlfriend every night. There were regular trips around the region to the likes of Angeles, Phnom Penh and Batam as well as gambling trips and cruises. He lived like a rock star.

Conventional expat wisdom has it that when you retire in Thailand you're best advised to keep your finances in the West and draw on funds only as you need them. Banks in the West are (were?) considered stable and there are bank deposit guarantees in place. And with the biggest stock market with investors from all around the world, a US stock portfolio would seem to be the way to go. It didn't quite work out that way…

As he was enjoying long sunny days in various locales across South-East Asia, little did he know that dark clouds were forming over the US tech sector. He was heavily invested in the NASDAQ which went on to plummet, and by the time he realised that it wasn't merely a minor correction, it was too late. He'd already burned through a big chunk of cash and his 6-figure nest egg was now getting perilously close to 4. He bailed out and returned to the States with plenty of memories, but found himself back at square one. In his early 40s he would have to start all over again.

Many dream of retiring in Thailand. For some their existence revolves around the countdown to a few weeks in Thailand every year and dreaming of the day they can escape the rat race once and for all and live the rest of their days in paradise.

Retirement in Thailand today is not quite as easy as it used to be.

Thailand is nothing like the bargain it used to be. With just a few exceptions – wine, cars and imported products – most everything in Thailand used to be cheap. Not any more. A decent burger costs as much in Bangkok as it does in New York. A quality steak costs more. Price increases in central Bangkok have seen inflation in farang areas running 10% per annum over the past 5 years or so.

Exchange rate fluctuations have seen the baht gain in value against most major Western currencies, particularly the pound Sterling and the US dollar which are down 30% or more against the baht over the past 5 years.

Interest rates in the West have come right down and fixed term deposit rates are much lower than they once were. New Zealand has traditionally had the highest term deposit rates in the developed world and as recently as 2008 you could get 9%. Today you get a bit over 5%. In the home of financial services, the UK, bank term deposit rates hover above 1% and don't even keep up with inflation.

Western stock markets are well down over the past couple of years, some by 30 – 35%.

The net effect is a nightmare for a retiree. They may have less capital than they once did, which earns them less and gets them less baht which buys less because prices for many things in Thailand have shot up. It's the perfect storm!

Some who have dreamed of retiring in Thailand are delaying the move. Worse still, some who had retired have been forced to return to the West, perhaps to re-enter the workforce, or perhaps with hat in hand at the mercy of the social welfare system.

Some retirees become bored after a while, particularly younger guys. With no reason to get up early and no schedule to stick to, boredom, temptation and perhaps a lack of discipline see many turn to the bottle. What else is there to do? Being in the bars every night probably wasn't part of the original budget. But it's not only those who spend so much time in the (ever more expensive) bars who are finding it difficult.

One friend was ultra conservative in his planning, budgeting just half of what he thought he would need for a comfortable retirement in Thailand. With hefty price rises over the past several years and the dollar tanking, he is now right at the edge of his budget and finds himself re-evaluating what is best for his family. To stay in Thailand, or to go?

Another friend a decade into retirement, and much too old to return to work, told me of the financial pain he felt when the dollar fell below 40 baht. Now at 30 I cannot imagine how he feels!

It's not just a challenge financially. The fabric of Thai society is changing as different forces vie to push the country in different directions. The old money, the so-called traditional elite, wants to go one way. The rural poor another. The class wars that are the undercurrent of many of the problems the country faces are far from being resolved. The events of the next few years will form Thailand's shape in the future. Anything is possible.

Western faces in Thailand are changing. The stereotypical Western retiree has been the ageing lech. As more and more young guys flock to the country, the mix is changing, especially in Bangkok. Attracted by the warm weather, perceived low cost of living and importantly, adequate technology infrastructure – read internet, Thailand's expat community is getting younger and, frankly, more wholesome. Will the daily scenes on Pattaya's Beach Road and Bangkok's Sukhumvit soi 4 of retirees seeking solace from working girls be such a common sight in the future?

In the case of the young American I mentioned at the start of the story, conventional wisdom had it all wrong. Had he exchanged all of his money into baht and put it all into the Thai stock exchange, and had those stocks followed the market average he could have partied for the last decade and still had plenty left. He may even have had more in baht terms today than when he first arrived, given that the Thai Stock Exchange index has tripled in value over the last decade.

You'd think that keeping your money in US dollars and in US stocks would be the way to go, but history has proven conventional wisdom to be wrong. When putting your money into baht and the SET proves to be much more profitable than keeping it in dollars in the largest stock market, you know the world is going crazy!

No-one wants the indignity of being a retiree ending up on the street, their life's possessions in a suitcase, preying on the kindness of the working girls they once gave money to for a 30 baht plate of rice.

Knowing how much you need to retire, a major factor in deciding when you wish to retire, is hard enough, without all of the other challenges one faces in Thailand. All we need next is for the Thai authorities to change the retirement visa rules to throw a real curve ball!

Most retirees in Thailand are very happy and enjoy their life very much. The thought of going home to many is abhorrent! But with all the crap going on in the world today, and all of the political and financial uncertainty, knowing how much you need to retire in Thailand is rapidly becoming an unsolvable equation!

Last week's photo

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken outside the Dollhouse in Soi Cowboy. If you looked closely, you could see the 80 baht all night long special sign behind the lady with the food cart. The first person to email me with the correct location of the photo wins a 500 baht credit at Oh My Cod, the British fish and chips restaurant. The second person to get it correct wins a 500 baht voucher from one of the best farang food venues in Bangkok, and the home of Bangkok's best burger, in my humble opinion, Duke's Express. Duke's is conveniently located in the Emporium shopping centre in central Bangkok. The third person to get the photo right wins a 700 baht gift certificate from Lolita's in Pattaya.

Terms and conditions: The Oh My Cod prize MUST be claimed within 14 days. The Duke's prize must be utilised by March 2011. You have 90 days to claim the Lolita's prize. Prizes are only available to readers in Thailand at the time of entering and are not transferable. Prize winners cannot claim more than one prize per calendar month. You only have one guess per week! If you wish to claim a prize, you must state a preference for the prize you prefer, or list the prizes you would like in order of preference – fail to do so and I will award the prize to the next person to get the photo right.

FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Patpong, an experiment in appalling customer service.

I read your comments on Patpong with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it's sad to see the demise of what was once a vibrant area where fun could be had. On the other hand, though, I relish that this happened because it shows what happens when businesses ignore the first lesson in being successful – the objective is to provide customers with a good experience so that they will return. The rallies in May undoubtedly hastened Patpong's fall, but it had been coming for a long time because of the way the area (collectively) treated its customers. The scams in second floor bars were ignored. The obnoxious touts were tolerated. Bar interiors were allowed to deteriorate. Taxis were allowed to extort money. All of these (plus more) added up to the area providing a highly undesirable evening out. The reputable establishments apparently didn't care – or weren't powerful enough to put a lid on these practices – and you know what floated to the top. Patpong bars have abused customers for long enough and now they aren't returning. No big surprise when looked at in retrospect. It didn't happen overnight, but took several years of cumulative ill will formation, and now they will have to make a herculean, long term effort if they ever want to come close to being competitive again. Hopefully, the other areas will take note and learn a lesson from this. Nana provides a case in point. They finally seem to be doing something, but not nearly enough to resurrect the area. Not yet at least. Much more could be done to improve the environment of the area (not just the plaza itself) and turn it into a premiere nightlife section. This would take collective action, and a long-term plan, both of which are rare here. But Cowboy provides a great example of what can be done and the results seem to more than justify the effort.

In favour of members only clubs.

Bars would do well to openly invoke racist policies and keep cheap customers and other third world types out of their bars. If I walked into a bar and saw it full of these types, myself and my cash would turn right around and leave and find another venue. I would venture to guess other customers would do the same. I know these cultures quite well and the girls, if they could see past tomorrow, would benefit by refusing these guys and their cash. If the industry is perceived as being taken over by third-worlders, traditional punters will find other places to monger. The girls will literally have little chance of finding their white knight in shining armour.

Once you've had black….you'll be straight back to Thai!

I don't know why anyone would avail themselves of the Africans on Sukhumvit. In Dubai, they certainly had a bad rep. Not that I'm prejudiced, it's just that I don't find most attractive, and, statistically speaking, a greater risk of any number of various problems, the least of which is poor service (lots of PROMISES, but few "deliveries"). Reading some of the better known forums, more often than not, there are punters bemoaning the experience. In Dubai, most bars were "private" clubs for non-whites, requiring a membership fee. While it might be discrimination, I certainly could see the wisdom – without it, the bars would be jammed with "lookie-lous" which is bad for business in oh-so-many ways.

No longer a bargain.

Having returned to Bangkok this past February for the first time in 3 years, the shock of the falling dollar (40+ to 30+) was offset by being able to see family and old haunts again. I was contemplating a return next month, but the continued slide of the dollar has put me off. Like you said, there is something of a psychological barrier at 30. It might not sound like much, but the change from 32+ to 29+ is a 10% fall and I don't think venues will be lowering their prices 10%. I don't see the exchange rate improving any time soon, given the disaster the US economy is, especially the unemployment numbers. It hits me every month as I send money to maintain family and a house there. Talk about unwelcome déjà vu – the early 90's of a pegged 25 baht to the USD. It just drives the point home that Thailand is no longer the cheap pleasure palace it was.

How many Stickman readers are like the old boys from the Muppet Show?

Last week you wrote "Most weeks someone has a gripe about something and often the people tell me how terrible the column is and how I have my head up my backside and various other less than complimentary smart arse remarks." This reminds me of Statler and Waldorf on the Muppet Show. Two men who do nothing but complain about everything – and they even look like they would be at home in a Pattaya bar! But gripe as they may, they buy tickets for the best seats in the house and they never miss a show. Keep up the good work!

The Nana experience.

Is it just me or has the Nana area degenerated into something otherworldly? I was there last night for the first time in about 8 months. I did my usual thing of parking my car for free at Bumrungrad and sauntering down little Mecca, Soi 3, to Sukhumvit Road and crossing over into Nana Plaza. While it's never been the greatest area, the amount of riff raff and whores on the street, particularly on the odd numbered soi side, is frankly overwhelming. Now the whores stand on Soi 3 in the street, in the lane closest to the sidewalk, shoulder to shoulder, blocking traffic and putting themselves on display as horny Arabs stand with their buddies deciding which one to choose from the line-up of skanks. That was new, while Africans on the other side of the street peddle drugs. Whereas before I used to feel neutral about walking in the area, this time I was terribly uncomfortable and even more so later as I navigated my way down Sukhumvit past all the makeshift outside bars with ladyboys and African whores grabbing at me. Two of them smelled like they hadn't showered for a week. At the gogos in Nana the standard beer price has shot up to 145 baht and lady drinks 160! And the mamasan pressure at the bars has escalated immensely. I went for a 2-hour jaunt to catch some hot chicks, but left thinking I should have stayed home and watched TV! Nana is forever off my list after last night.


Someone in authority was quick to act after the scandalous story in last Sunday's edition of the Bangkok Post rocked Thailand's reputation. The lead item on the front page article claimed child pornography was not only available for purchase on the streets of Bangkok, but that it was openly on display! I don't like to dispute what the author wrote, but I have to admit that while I am often in the area, I have *never* seen that worst variety of pornography ever on display – in fact I have never seen it anywhere in Thailand at any time. I don't even know if it really is available, even if one were to specifically ask about it. Strolling up and down the area highlighted in the article the next day, that is the busiest stretch of Sukhumvit, from Nana to Asoke, I did not see one vendor with porn on display nor did there appear to be any of the "porno", "xxx" or "sex movies" signs. While pornographic movies may have disappeared, dildos and other sex toys were available and openly displayed for all to see. These items have been openly available for sale in the area for about a year or so whereas what I will term "mainstream" porn has always even available although it seems to be promoted much more now than in the past. Things changed again on Thursday when there seemed to be an about turn and porn is now again widely available from the DVD sellers on Sukhumvit Road, with the covers openly on display, many showing full sex and penetration! It should be remembered that this stretch of Sukhumvit Road includes 5-star hotels and many other tourist class hotels. Only a couple of decades ago it was said that if you entered Thailand with any sort of pornographic movies or sex toys you'd be in big trouble. Now there's no need to bring in your own because it's readily available. How things have changed!

Wandering through Patpong last night, I note that adult sex toys are openly displayed at a couple of stalls and while porno movies are also available, none are on display. Different police districts, different rules!

No-one wants to end up in the monkey house in Thailand but perhaps in Pattaya it wouldn't be so bad? A new prison themed gogo is set to open on Walking Street around the middle of the month called Alcatraz A Gogo. Building is underway across from King's Seafood on Walking Street and it sounds like it will be rather impressive. It will be the first gogo bar in Thailand to be spread over 3 floors and the prison theme will feature cells with girls in them. Great concept!

The Covent Garden area in Pattaya has had some popular gogo bars over the years but in recent years it hasn't had the same sort of success it once did, which seems to be more about its location than the bars themselves. Bar goers just don't seem to make it that far down Walking Street – and of those who do make it that far down, few seem to make the short 20 metre stroll off the main Walking Street itself. A great shame because in the complex is Toyz, a favourite bar of mine. However, it looks as though there could be a change in flavour to the bar complex with the appropriately named Sin City now closed and mooted to be converted into a disco which will target an ethnic group known to hang out in that part of town. One can't help but feel that it's not going to do anything for trade in the few remaining gogo bars in the complex. Good bars feed off each other and the best thing that can happen for one bar is for a great bar to open or be operating next door.

Dollhouse is one of the best bars in Cowboy and has overtaken Tilac as my personal favourite. How much of that is due to #8, I wonder?! Uncommonly attractive by bargirl standards, she is tramp stamp free, has no map of the world, possesses a fabulous smile and a natural chest that defies gravity. It is quite simply unfathomable that she ever goes a night without being barfined. Completely unimaginable! I can't see her remain in the industry for very long. Who will snap her up?

The Crown Group has erected a string barrier around the central section of the bricked ground floor of Nana Plaza and hired goons keep an eye on it day and night. The vigilance with which they carry out their duties, even trying to repel those who merely want to take a snap of the area, makes you think that they're guarding a national treasure!

Mark of Tony's Bar fame is working on his next project, the shophouse next door to Melodies Bar in Sukhumvit soi 4. What was an internet cafe until recently will soon be Soi Nana's newest beer bar.

Speaking of bars in soi 4, Bus Stop has opened up its front which is a big improvement – you can now see inside making it much more inviting than it was. That said, the classic Singapore Airlines hostess uniforms that the welcome girls wear are even more inviting! Bus Stop is a pleasant spot and a great place to start the evening. The Aussie-owned venue has been running for years, features plenty of Aussie sport and has decent Western food at very decent prices and for my money, the best sub-100 baht burger in town.

I recently wrote that Dollhouse had the latest happy hour in Cowboy but I got that wrong. Walking past Shadow Bar, I note that theirs runs all the way through until 10 PM.

There's little happening in Nana with no progress on the ground floor construction, the new coyote venue Club Bunnies has yet to open and the rumour mill is going into overdrive about Czech Peter, the owner of Hollywood upstairs with construction stopped on Hollywood upstairs weeks and weeks ago. According to his staff, he has not been seen in over a month.

The Y Not bar complex on Sukhumvit soi 3 has reopened after a complete renovation and now features a more modern look.

Poor old soi 33 really is hurting. Not only are most bars in the soi dead, when it rains heavily parts of the soi go half a metre under water!

In certain bars the girls engage in price fixing, more often than not due to pressure exerted on them by a mamasan who clips the ticket, pocketing 500 baht of the girl's fee. I spent a couple of nights in Gulliver's this week, one of the popular freelancer hangouts on Sukhumvit, and a number of the girls I chatted with told me that "Gulliver's girls" will not go for less than 2,000 baht short time – and expect a good deal more long-time. I thought they were joking, but personally witnessed a young, handsome Brit who offered 1,500 to a wench turned down.

In the same venue, I was just sitting there minding my own business when two girls next to me started chatting away – and I couldn't catch a word. It wasn't Thai and I was pretty sure it wasn't Lao. Neither did it sound like Khmer which is quite distinctive. I asked one of the girls where she came from and in very confident English she said that she was from Myanmar. Shortly afterwards they were joined by two more girls, making four Myanmar nationals. We got chatting and they revealed that there are quite a few more girls from Myanmar who frequent Gulliver's. I would have thought their Thai would be ok but it was terrible, so bad in fact that when they ordered drinks they did so in English! There are tens of thousands of Myanmar nationals working in Thailand, often in low-paid jobs in provinces near the border such as Tak in the north and Ranong in the south. I bet there are plenty floating around Bangkok too but I haven't come across many and unlike girls from Laos and Cambodia, they seem to be a rarity in the bars, at least in bars for Westerners. Apparently quite a few of them end up in bars for Thai men where their white skin commands a pretty penny.

Police continue to stop taxis and hassle farang passengers at the intersection of Sukhumvit and Asoke late at night. A mate who often goes out late on Sukhumvit and finds himself heading home by cab around 4 AM or so is sick and tired of being asked to step out of a cab while the police conduct an unauthorised and therefore illegal search of his person. The checkpoint is usually just around the corner from Sukhumvit, just after they have made the left turn. You'd think the cops would have more important things to work on. It's the fear of something untoward being planted on your person which is the greatest concern for those being searched at that time of night. Anyone going home that late has probably had a few and as such may not be 100% aware of what's going on.

More misery was felt by American retirees in Thailand, as well as those on American dollar denominated salaries for whom the exchange rate on the last day of the month determines exactly how much they will be paid in baht for that month. The US dollar fell further against the baht this week, continuing what seems to be an irreversible downwards trend, before finally arresting its descent and coming back about 1% on Friday. It's still the hot topic for many American retirees.

If you find yourself at the Pattaya Immigration office, you might spot former Australian bar manager / owner TJ whose mug shot is flashed on large, flat panel TV suspended from the ceiling. Images are displayed of foreigners who have been arrested in the area over the past few years. TJ was hardly the most popular guy in town but by unnecessarily displaying his photo there surely they are sullying his character? TJ was arrested, but not convicted! He died under mysterious circumstances while out on bail, before his case was heard. He had been arrested on charges relating to running a venue with underage girls and there was much rumour of pressure being put on him to come up with a good chunk of baht to make the problem go away. Surely if they must display people's mug shots, they should only display those who were actually convicted, rather than just those who were merely arrested?

Bully's has a really great deal on Monday nights with an all you can eat spaghetti and meatballs deal. For just 169 baht, a small bowl of salad is followed a monstrous bowl of spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce and meatballs. If you manage to finish the first bowl, you'll be offered another at no extra cost. I have heard that the odd customer can manage 3 – I found 1 bowl to be plenty! Oh yeah, it comes with garlic bread too.

Bully's currently has two of the prettiest beer promotion girls I have seen in some time. In recent years the breweries seem to have been happy to take on anyone and there have been some real barkers don the breweries colours.

I have yet to try it but the Halal buffet at the A One Hotel on the Beach Road in Pattaya sounds fantastic. 299 baht gets you all of this here.

What is it with middlemen and agents in Thailand? More and more often, I find that when you go to get something done, the person you are dealing with is not the person you should be dealing with, but someone who purports to know what they're doing who is merely a middleman making out they're there to help you when all they are doing is adding a percentage to the cost of the product or service while actually adding very little, or quite possibly no value. There used to be a lot of Thais doing this, often Thais with good English, but now there are foreigners in on it too. The only advice I can give is to ascertain who it is you need to do business with and find them and avoid middlemen wherever possible.



Quote of the week comes from the head of the No Name Group, "With Thai women, it's like with a phone book – you throw it against a wall and it always falls a different way."

Reader's story of the week comes from Farang Dave and is called, "The Long Farewell: Part 2".

A Thai court stalls Victor Bout's extradition.

Another Thai woman slices off her husband's manhood!

CNNGo highlights some of the top drinking spots on Khao San Road.

A tourist is hit by a jet ski in Pattaya and killed.

A Dane is killed by two Brits in Pattaya.

The Thai Prime Minister talks about the Thai baht exchange rate with the Wall Street Journal.

Did someone at Mandarin A Gogo in Pattaya's soi 6 forget to pay a bill this week?

Ask Sunbelt Legal

Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.

Question 1: I have been residing here on a Non-Immigrant O visa (I qualify by having a legal Thai wife) for quite a few years. Two years ago I changed it to a retirement visa (my mistake). The coming year we have a lot going on and if I continue with the retirement visa I am going to get hit really hard by taxes on my 401K withdrawal due to the drop in the USD when I transfer money to Thailand. Can I change my visa *back* to Thai wife and if so, what is the nesting period for the 400,000 baht. Not having to bring an added 400,000 baht ($13,000+) keeps me in a lower tax bracket. Thank you in advance for your help.

Sunbelt Legal responds: You may convert your current extension of stay based on retirement into an extension of stay based on marriage so long as you have at least 2 – 4 weeks before your current extension of stay expires. As for the financial requirement, you may choose either 1) a certified letter of income from your embassy amounting to baht 40,000 per month or; 2) a deposit of baht 400,000 in a Thai bank account. For the latter, it must be in the account no less than the prescribed amount for the previous 3 months. The 400,000 baht in you Thai bank account is only required to have been in the account for the previous 2 months if it's for the first extension. The same procedures will then apply: the Immigration officer will stamp 30 days on your passport as consideration period and they will later stamp another 11 months extension on your passport upon hearing the result. Other required documentation for an extension of stay based upon marriage may include, but is not limited to: your marriage certificate, photos of you and your wife, a map of your residence and a copy of your wife's Thai ID.


Question 2: We stay in Thailand on a tourist visa and recently had a newborn baby. Right now the baby has a visa and I know he needs a visa to enter the country but do they charge a fee when the baby overstays? We got told that it is not common to charge kids and the parents don't get in any trouble but is this the norm or would you always recommend having a valid visa for the kid?

Sunbelt Legal responds: While the likelihood of a baby being fined for overstaying is very small it is always best for you and any of your children to have a valid visa while in the Kingdom. Thai Passport Control responds that children under 7 years of age are not subject to overstay fines (though on other occasions, even signs at passport control have stated that children under 14 are not subject to overstay fines) but the Thai Immigration Act’s Section 81 provides:

Any alien who stay in the Kingdom without permission or with permission expired or revoked shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding 20,000 baht or both.

The overstay fine is 500 baht / day with a maximum fine of 20,000 baht. Considering the letter of the law and the fact that there are numerous reports of a more strict enforcement of overstays in Thailand, the safest course of action is to have a proper visa for your baby while you travel in Thailand.

The other concern is if your child tries to re-enter Thailand with a return ticket longer then 30 days, the airline may not allow your child on the plane without a visa or exit ticket shorter then the time allowed for a tourist visa exemption stamp.

Question 3: Essentially I am on a non-B visa and have a work permit. I have accepted employment with an NGO. I finish with my current employer at the end of the month and will probably start at the NGO a week later.

Is it possible to stay on the current visa and transfer to the new employer on my current work permit? The work permit seems to allow space for a new employer. If not, or if the work permit gets cancelled regardless can I advise
the Immigration Department I am taking up another position and remain on the current non-B pending the NGO's application for a new work permit? If so what documents do I need from the NGO to get this?

The NGO (presuming my non B will also be cancelled) has suggested I transfer to a non-O while they go through the process of getting the necessary approval for my employment but I don't want to do this as:

1. I see no advantage – I have an APEC card which gives me the same 90 days entry.
2. I don't have 400,000 baht in the bank here.
3. I want to maintain my current visa as I understand this is vital for a future permanent residence application.

Any comment advice about this?

Sunbelt Legal responds: It is legally allowed to register 2 companies in the same work permit booklet. Your current employer must approve of this arrangement with you. Doing so will enable you to continue your new employment without having to cancel the existing extension of stay. However, there must be a transition period of 2 months before you may take out the old employer in the work permit. Furthermore, being declared in 2 companies at the same time means that you are declared with salaries for the 2 companies and therefore subject to withholding tax respectively.

If by any chance your current employer disapproves on this arrangement, the work permit has to be cancelled along with your current extension of stay since it is applied for in the name of your current company. You may try to negotiate with the officer, but the rules and requirements regarding this are absolute. You will have to obtain a new 3 month visa and consequently apply for a work permit under the new company.

Your new employer most likely had advice as such mainly because 1) the non-immigrant O type visa and extension of stay based on marriage to a Thai national are independent from the work permit; it cannot be cancelled if the work permit is cancelled; 2) the financial requirement is a 40,000 baht per month (as another alternative to THB 400,000 bank deposit for the extension of stay based on marriage) for permanent residency as opposed to 80,000 baht per month under extension of stay based on business and; 3) your APEC card will not enable you for a work permit and for future permanent residency application, it is required to have 3 consecutive unbroken yearly extension of stay in Thailand.

* This does not constitute legal advice or serve as a substitute for direct legal consultation with a licensed attorney. The information is provided for educational purposes only and it may not account for the specific facts and up-to-date laws that may be applicable to each individual's situation. It does not take the place of consultations with a licensed lawyer and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between readers of the information and Sunbelt Asia, Co. Ltd. or any of its employees.




I was recently asked by a long-term reader why I write so much about the bar industry. He questioned whether I would write so much about the bar industry if this column was based elsewhere, say Sydney or London. I responded that this column is Bangkok-based and with the bar industry playing a big part of the expat lifestyle, so the industry gets more coverage here than it would if the column was based elsewhere. To shirk the bar industry would be failing to cover a large slice of the expat lifestyle. Admittedly things are rapidly changing and where once, perhaps as recent as several years ago, most expats had some sort of connection to the bar industry, these days not nearly as many do. There are more and more Westerners becoming expats in Bangkok who have little or even zero interest in the bar industry. But that does not mean that I will reduce coverage of the industry. It has become the mainstay of the column for a lot of readers – and also happens to be the easiest part of the column to research. So long as the bar industry continues to play a significant part of the Bangkok expat lifestyle, so I will continue to cover it. If it disappeared or became insignificant, then coverage of it would diminish. This column is NOT a column about sex, but a column about expat life in Bangkok.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick