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Jatuporn rails against TV ban

Posted by pakin On April - 29 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The leader of the red shirt movement hit out Tuesday at plans to take his pro-democracy television network off the air in the latest strike against freedom of expression in the military-ruled kingdom.

The broadcasting committee under the the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has said it plans to revoke the broadcasting licence for Peace TV, which features daily programmes by Jatuporn Prompan and Nattawut Saikuar, the two key leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

Regulators accuse Peace TV of failing to abide by an agreement with junta officials that it stay clear of politics.

On Monday, committee chief Natee Sukonrat said Peace TV would be banned because the network is “still airing content that leads to conflicts”.

The move came as the red-shirt movement prepares to mark a 2010 military crackdown on protesters that left more than 90 dead, most of whom were demonstrators.

Pro-democracy campaigners are also likely to try to mark the anniversary of last year’s coup on May 22.

Speaking on the channel, Mr Jatuporn, who is the UDD chairman, denied causing divisions and threatened to take the media regulators to court if his station was unplugged.

“There was no message causing division in the entire programme. I keep telling people to be patient and not to leave this theatre until the movie ends,” he said.

“I will fight until the end… At the end of the day, it’s difficult to be a good boy in this country,” he added.

Mr Nattawut, the UDD secretary-general, also used his programme to strongly oppose the threat and said the decision to revoke the licence could not deter him from making political comments. “If it’s shut down, we will find other venues to speak out,’’ he said, adding the closure of the station could not silence people with different opinions from those in power.

Executives and staff of Peace Television Co who runs the channel submitted a letter to NBTC secretary-general Thakorn Tanthasit, urging a reconsideration of the licence revocation.

Peace Television Co director Anankasak Khamkao said the station had no chance to defend the case and warned that the company could petition the Administrative Court or His Majesty the King for justice.

Mr Thakorn said the decision was not politically driven. The letter will be forwarded to the NBTC chief, he said, but did not guarantee that the issue would be in on the next meeting’s agenda.

Thai Broadcasting Journalists Association vice-president Supan Rukchuea also urged the committee to reconsider the licence revocation, saying the decision was too harsh.

“But Peace TV should realise that press freedom also comes with responsibility, especially when Thai society is undergoing reform and reconciliation,’’ he said.

Under junta rules, Peace TV had toned down its tirades against the Bangkok-based elite but in recent months Mr Jatuporn has spoken more directly against the ruling regime.

In early April, Peace TV, formerly UDD channel, was taken off the air for seven days following a spat with the military over its content.

Google Thailand to go the extra mile

Posted by pakin On April - 27 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Pete Nuchanatanon, the new head of marketing at Google Thailand, has set a goal to help people, businesses and consumers get the most out of going online by using Google’s products and services.

Pete, 34, who assumed his position in January, is the second person to be in charge of marketing, following Pornthip Kongchun. He oversees and manages Google’s national marketing efforts across all products and brand campaigns.

He promotes all Google products and services to businesses and people so that they will use them to enhance their business’ competitiveness and their quality of life.

Pete has four main focuses: helping one-third of people to surf the Internet, helping people to benefit from Google’s innovations, increasing local contents and helping more local businesses to build a presence online.

Google offers 45 services here, but this year, he will emphasise two: Google Search and YouTube. He will also focus on Google Maps, Google Translate and Google Mobile.

“The four main tasks are correlated. Our role is to get the rest of Thais to go online and to recognise the benefit of the Internet, while getting Thai businesses to have an online presence.

“Especially, only 10 per cent of Thai small and medium enterprises are online. Our task is to help 90 per cent of them to be online and benefit from being online. How good it will be if 100 per cent of companies can reach 100 per cent of customers who are searching for their products and services,” he said.

Google Search will help people benefit more from Google AdWords, Google AdSense and Google Trends. About 20 per cent of searches are for new information for which people are looking.

Google’s services can help businesses and people learn the exact trends in information in which people are interested, what they are looking for and what they are talking about.

“Our teams are increasing. Our teams expanded 2.5 times in only three months. We have a head taking care of each of my four focuses.

“For example, Google Trends is an important tool for businesses to know exactly the online trends with in-depth information. Businesses can use this information for free to analyse data for serving their business.

“Google has dedicated teams and partners to provide assistance, help and consulting. Google’s partners have tripled,” he said.

Two trends are expected: Internet penetration is going to reach 100 per cent and advertising spending is continuing to grow from 5.5 per cent last year to nearly the same as China and the United Kingdom, where digital advertising spending is 20 per cent and 50 per cent of total advertising spending, respectively.

“We see the positive trends. Also, the government’s digital economy is accelerating this trend,” he said.

This year, Google will roll out a lot more marketing campaigns and activities to promote both focused products and services, and new services. Next month, it will hold marketing activities for YouTube to celebrate its first anniversary here.

Pete’s knowledge of Thai consumers may be the critical point in his selection as Google’s head of marketing in the Thai market. He said he went through six interviews in three months to get this job.

“They asked me what the opportunities for Google in Thailand are and what Thais need,” he said.

Pete has never been in the technology field before. His 12 years of work experience have been in the consumer business. He started his career in advertising and consulting for six years before joining P&G as the country marketing manager for all brands and categories for hair, skin, fabric and home, and grooming, for Thailand and Asean. Pete has also worked with Lowe and Brandscape and has a deep understanding of brands with over 10 years of leadership experience.

LERTRAT RATTANAWANIT from the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) yesterday denied that there was any behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by special interest groups for them to be included among those eligible to run for the Senate under the new constitution.

“I insist there was no lobbying as many claimed. The CDC chairman and his members do not have personal interests in drafting the charter to benefit anyone,” he said.

Some provincial members of the National Reform Council (NRC) had reportedly met with CDC chairman Borwornsak Uwanno to ask that they be given the opportunity to participate further in politics, particularly to be candidates for the Senate.

Lertrat pointed out that in the drafting meetings for every article in the charter, there were members who agreed and disagreed with the contents, especially when it came to the sources of senators.

The requirement for 77 senators to come from elections in all provinces came after proposals were gathered from many sides including people attending the hearings held by the CDC around the country.

Tiwar Karnkrasang, an NRC member from Buri Ram, insisted that the rumours that the NRC had asked for favours from the CDC regarding their political future were untrue.

“I insist that I have never negotiated with the CDC chairman to benefit my fellow NRC provincial representatives about being candidates for the Senate.

“Personally, I do not intend to be a candidate, but being a candidate is a right under the constitution,” he said.

Senators must come from an election, if not, it would greatly affect the country’s democracy, he said.

The NRC’s meeting on the draft charter mainly covered national reform and reconciliation. Many NRC members showed enthusiasm in debating on the new independent organisations, particularly the Reform Movement Council.

The draft charter calls for the establishment of the Reform Movement Council and the strategic reform committee to continue promoting national reform plans in the future.

The CDC reasoned that these new bodies would be another mechanism to ensure the plans will be implemented once a new government is formed.

The National Reform Movement Council consists of 120 members – 60 from the NRC, 30 from the National Legislative Assembley (NLA) and 30 from national reform experts in each area.

Tiwar said he supports the council idea but what concerns him was the council’s composition.

That this council will have 60 NRC members could be shameful.

“This matter could be perceived as bringing our own people into becoming the new council,” he said.

He opposed the 30 members from experts, then claimed he does not see the importance of the NLA in national reform, and the relationship between the NLA and reform.

Boonlert Kachayudhadej, an NRC member, said the charter should also include the CDC as part of the council to prevent the national reform plans going to waste.

The new body also cannot exclude the NRC from its members, he said.

Sakda Sriviriyahphaiboon, an NRC member, said including the NRC in the Reform Movement Council was the right thing to do, because the NRC members were the ones who realised the country’s problems and would resolve them.

Another matter that concerned the reformers was the reconciliation committee, as it had the authority under the draft charter to request for pardons once wrongdoers showed remorse before the committee or gave useful information.

NRC member Niphon Naksompop said reconciliation might not be accomplished by pardoning convicts because that prerogative was only with His Majesty the King and this matter would be transgressing on His Majesty’s turf.

After all the scrutinising this past week, if the NRC members want changes in the charter made, they have to submit their proposals within 30 days to the CDC. Whether the charter drafters would amend any parts is up for them to decide.

Aid prepared for Nepal, 66 Thais confirmed safe

Posted by pakin On April - 27 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The government is mobilising aid and rescue teams to send to Nepal, while authorities have confirmed that six Thai medical students, who earlier lost contact, are safe along with 60 other Thai citizens.

Deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Sunday Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed the Public Health Ministry and the Royal Thai Armed Forces to prepare medical and disaster relief teams to be sent to earthquake victims in Nepal as soon as possible.

The PM also asked the Thai embassy in Nepal to contact any Thai citizens either in Nepal or its neighbouring countries, which may also have been affected by the quake, said Maj Gen Sansern.

Any Thai affected by the earthquake who wants to return to Thailand will get help to travel back home under the Foreign Ministry’s protocols, Gen Prayut said.

Aside from immediate assistance, the government will organise a nationwide fund-raising effort to collect donations for quake victims, said Maj Gen Sansern.

If anybody wishes to inquire about relatives in Nepal, a coordination centre has been set up at the Thai embassy in Kathmandu, he said.

People are encouraged to call the Foreign Ministry’s hotlines on 094 003 7190, 094 003 7191, 094 003 7192 and 085 911 4076.

They may call the Thai embassy in Kathmandu directly at +977 14414372 or +977 9801069233 or fax +977 14371410.

Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn said the government will send the medical and disaster relief teams to Nepal within the next few days.

“We will approve initial funds as a part of humanitarian assistance to Nepal. At present, we are working with the agencies concerned to find out what they need and how we can help,” Gen Tanasak said.

Sek Wannamethee, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said all Thai nationals in Nepal were confirmed as safe, with only some suffering minor injuries from the quake.

Wutti Wuttisant, the Thai ambassador to Nepal, said there are about 100 Thais living in Nepal.

At least 20 Thai nationals, mostly civil servants and their families, moved into a shelter at the Thai embassy in Kathmandu and prefer to stay in Nepal for the time being, according to Mr Sek.

The ministry confirmed Sunday the six medical students from Srinakharinwirot University who initially fell out of contact after the quake are now confirmed as safe.

The group was visiting Pokhara, about 140km from Kathmandu.

But Marisa Eve Girawong, a half Thai-American medical doctor working for a mountaineer team, was reportedly killed in an avalanche at a base camp on Mount Everest, according to media reports.

The 28-year-old Thai-American doctor, died after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands, including more than a dozen on the world’s highest mountain.

Hours before the avalanche, Marisa wrote on Facebook that she was craving sushi. She was most recently a resident of Edison, New Jersey. Seattle-based Madison Mountaineering confirmed Girawong’s death on its website.

“It is with deep sorrow and profound grief that we can confirm the loss of our Everest/Lhotse base camp doctor,” Madison co-founder Kurt Hunter wrote in a blog post entitled “Our hearts are broken.”

Girawong died at the expedition’s 17,500-foot elevation base camp. All 15 members of the expedition’s climbing team made it safely to Camp 2, where they were awaiting helicopter evacuation.

According her bio on the mountaineering company’s site, Girawong, who was born in Thailand, had been a physician’s assistant working in a Level 1 emergency room “with a focus on trauma and wilderness medicine” when she joined the Everest expedition earlier this year.

Girawong, an avid rock climber and mountaineer, had been working in the Everest region for more about a year.

“Officially the highest I’ve been so far at 5,550 meters/18,300 ft.,” she wrote on Facebook on April 12. “Never made it last year but finally got to the top of Kala Patthar.”

Hours before the avalanche struck, Girawong wrote on Facebook:

“Day 28 on this arduous journey, snow is falling & my food cravings are at an all time high. Is a crunchy spicy tuna roll with eel sauce too much to ask for?”

The UN Children’s Fund in Thailand (Unicef) launched an appeal for urgent donations from the Thai public to help with the response.

“It was a terrifyingly strong earthquake. [There was] extensive damage to buildings across the city and many people have spent the night outside in the cold because of the ongoing shocks,” said Bijaya Rajbhandari, Unicef’s country representative.

“These people are without basic facilities and the government hospitals are already overcrowded. People need help and they need it now.”

Unicef is providing supplies, such as water purification tablets, hygiene kits, tarpaulins and food, and is working with government and other agencies to meet children’s immediate needs. To make a donation, click on “Donate for Nepal” atwww.unicef.or.th.

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