Friday, December 15, 2017
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PM slammed for six questions

Posted by pakin On November - 9 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

POLITICIANS AND ACADEMICS SAY ‘DANGEROUS’ MOVE INDICATES NCPO’S INTENTION TO CLING TO POWER AND LEGITIMISE UNDEMOCRATIC RULE

PRIME MINISTER GENERAL Prayut Chan-o-cha’s latest efforts to survey people’s thoughts on politics with six controversial questions appeared to be an attempt not only to set a political agenda but also to legitimise the junta’s rule despite it being undemocratic, politicians and academics have concluded.

The comments came one day after the prime minister refused to rule out the possibility of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) setting up a military-backed party to contest the next elections.

Prayut abruptly came up with the six questions himself when he was attending a meeting yesterday morning at Government House and then made additional comments on the release of the questions a few hours later.

The new tack came shortly after the NCPO was criticised for maintaining the political ban although the political party bill has been implemented and the mourning period for the late King Rama IX has ended.

The questions are Prayut’s second “survey” after the first earlier this year. The previous questions, which required respondents to answer in person at Damrongdhamma centres, elicited about 1 million responses.

However, the government has not released a report on the outcome of the survey.

The earlier four questions were viewed as leading respondents to disapprove of politicians and cast doubt on Thailand’s democratic system. The six new questions follow a similar pattern – but with a stronger tone.

Key Pheu Thai Party figure Watana Muangsook said he believed that Prayut, who seized power in the 2014 coup, had no right to ask such questions to the public at all.

“He still casts doubts on politicians, although political mechanisms should have been ready by now,” Watana said. “We would like to move to be prepare for the election, not clash with anyone. How could we create any insecurity as claimed by Prayut?”

Independent political academic Trakoon Meechai said he believed the questions were asked based on an underestimation of the potential public backlash, particularly given speculation that the junta wanted to cling to power after the election.

The questions were leading, seeking answers legitimising the junta and discrediting politicians, Trakoon said. Ultimately, the questions were asking if it is okay for the junta to maintain a lingering political influence by backing a political party.

“This method of ensuring one’s own legitimacy may differentiate any emerging party submitted by the NCPO from those parties backed by the military in the past,” Trakoon said. “But it will be very dangerous for the junta itself to publicly show this kind of intention.”

 

Thais wary of using robots

Posted by pakin On October - 30 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

While experts estimate that close to 50% of jobs in Thailand could be automated with current technology, the public may not be ready to welcome robots into key jobs, according to the latest survey by UK market research firm YouGov.

Only 35% of Thai men and 28% of Thai women would want a robot on the wheel of their cars, even if robots were safe and affordable. Even fewer would trust them with caring for their children (18% of men and 16% of women), and fewer still would want them to help manage their finances (17% of men and 12% of women).

Driving and routine functions at financial institutions are some of the activities likely to be automated in the near future. The Thai public’s hesitant acceptance of machines in these tasks indicates replacement may not take place as quickly as expected.

Only 7% of Thais say driving will be the most popular use of robots in the next five years, and only 2% think helping to manage their finances will be.

The views of Thais may contrast with those of citizens in developed economies. Some 56% of Americans say they would not be hesitant to ride in a driverless vehicle, according to US think tank Pew Research.

While less than half of Thais think robots are safe, only 1 in 25 says they would not want to own a robot which would, for example, clean the house (77%), help with security (67%), or assist them at work (49%).

Activities Thais would feel comfortable automating, like security, or gardening (46%), are some of the hardest tasks to automate because they require highly variable responses.

McKinsey, the consulting firm, says machines can already do some characteristically human activities, like identifying faces or sounds, better than people. Even so, Thais feel confident in their abilities to outperform these new competitors on the job.

Only 10% of Thais think a robot could do a better job than them, a result that is roughly stable across gender and age groups.

While Thais may be confident their employment will be safe in the future, they are less sure about their neighbours’ job security. Only 10% of Thais disagree that “robots will take jobs away from many of us”.

This result is similar in other countries. Most US adults, for example, say their jobs are safer from replacement by automation than most other professions, according to Pew Research.

 

THE CRIMINAL case against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for her role in the rice-pledging scheme technically closed on Friday when neither Yingluck nor the prosecutor submitted an appeal, her lawyer and the prosecutor both confirmed yesterday.

Yingluck, who is reportedly in the United Kingdom, was sentenced to five years in jail for her negligence in preventing corruption and irregularities in her government’s rice-pledging scheme before the 2014 coup.

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders convicted her in absentia and announced her prison sentence on September 27. The law allows her to appeal within 30 days of the date of the verdict delivery, but she would have to launch the appeal in person from inside Thailand.

“We have not yet received contact from her, therefore we did not make any request to the court to extend the period of appeal,” said her lawyer Norawit Lalang. “As we did not make an appeal, the case is technically final.”

Yingluck fled the country a few days before the court had originally been due to deliver its verdict on August 25 and Norawit said he had received no contact from his client since then.

The court issued an arrest warrant following her failure to turn up in August and delivered its verdict in absentia when she again missed her court appearance on September 27.

Location unknown’

State prosecutor Surasak Tritrattrakul said that since neither of the involved parties had made any appeals to the court, the case was now final and authorities would enforce the verdict to compel Yingluck to serve her sentence.

However, Yingluck’s location is still unknown, authorities have said. Local media reports, citing unnamed sources, have said she is in London, where her brother Thaksin Shinawatra has a home. While some reports said she was seeking political asylum in the UK, Thai officials were unable to verify the claim.

Police have said they have asked cooperation from Interpol to force Yingluck to be returned to Thailand to serve her sentence but there still remained no clear clues about her whereabouts.

The junta has shifted blame for her disappearance to a police officer. Pol Colonel Chairit Anurit of the Metropolitan Police allegedly drove Yingluck to Sa Kaew province on August 23 and has been dismissed from duty.

This follows a police fact-finding committee’s ruling that the officer committed a grave disciplinary offence. He had also committed a lesser breach of the code of conduct for illegal use of a vehicle, the committee ruled.

Yingluck is not the only person convicted in the controversial case – ministers in her cabinet and many senior government officials were found to be involved in the fraud, which cost the country hundreds of billions of baht.

Yingluck’s former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom was jailed for 42 years and former deputy commerce minister Phumi Saraphol was sentenced to 36 years.

Both men have submitted appeals to the court.

Thailand is staging the “Digital Thailand Big Bang 2017” exhibition under the concept of Digital Transformation Thailand.

The government says now marks the beginning of the implementation part of its efforts to reform economy and society into Thailand 4.0.

The exhibition feature the latest technological innovations, and brings together more than 120 companies engaged in digital technology that are sharing their insights.

The event continues until September 24 at Challenger Hall 1-2 at Impact in Muang Thong Thani.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said: “Digital Thailand Big Bang 2017 is the milestone event which propels the whole nation into the digital era.

“It is organised by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES), Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) and co-organised by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

The event will display the processes to transform the country to Thailand 4.0, a new engine of growth that will drive the economy forward through high-tech industries and innovations.

In 2017, the government has maximised the use of digital technology in three aspects;

  1. To create new opportunities for economic growth and improve the delivery of government services for its people: the Pracha Rat Internet, to bridge a digital gap by providing high speed Internet accessibility to 74,700 communities in Thailand within a year.

The government is aiming to create innovations through the application of technology, such as e-commerce to enhance the capabilities so that the people can run their businesses online; e-health to enable swift exchange of information between experts and individual units located across the nation; e-education to offer numerous possibilities for distance learning to people, including children, senior citizens and underprivileged; e-agriculture to change the country’s traditional farming to smart farming and to help Thai farmers to become entrepreneurs and e-service to serve as a central information center to facilitate people in obtaining public services.

  1. Ranges of digital innovations: Digital Park Thailand spanning over 600 rai will be built in Sri Racha, Chon Buri as the centre of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC); support for the Internet of Things (IoT) to local tech start-ups; and smart city initiatives. Digital Park and the development of smart cities will help improve quality of life and the local environment while enabling the country to use resources more efficiently.
  2. Global Connectivity: This is to facilitate international collaboration through digital platforms. The government is in the process of setting up a one-stop service for permits relating to setting up a business. To improve the ease of doing business, cooperation with global partners will be made to support Thai startups to form their businesses and create a cybersecurity.

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