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Facebook won’t build data centres in countries with bad human rights records, except Singapore

The Thaiger

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Facebook won’t build data centres in countries with bad human rights records, except Singapore | The Thaiger
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Mark Zuckerberg promised in a lengthy blog post that the company wouldn’t build data centres in countries with poor human rights.

But he chose to ignore Singapore’s track record in human rights, declaring the city-state home to Facebook’s first data center in Asia to “serve everyone.”

“As we build our infrastructure around the world, we’ve chosen not to build data centres in countries that have a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression,” said Mark Zuckerberg.

“If there are two things Singapore is known for, it’s that there’s no privacy nor freedom of expression,” according to Zach Whittaker of TechCrunch.

For all its glitz and economic success, Singapore’s human rights record falls far below internationally recognised norms.

The state, with a population of five million, consistently falls close to the bottom in worldwide rankings by rights groups for its oppressive laws against freedom of speech, limited rights to privacy under its expanding surveillance system, horrendous treatment of those in the LGBT community along with suppressed media freedom and threats of defamation lawsuits by the government.

Reporters Without Borders said Singapore has an “intolerant government,” and Human Rights Watch called some of the country’s more restrictive laws “draconian.”

The government in Singapore retains broad powers to limit citizens’ rights and to inhibit political opposition. In 2018, Singapore was ranked 151th out of 180 nations by Reporters Without Borders in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index. (Thailand ranked 140th in the same report)

Responding to criticism of Facebook’s decision to set up data centres in the Asian city-state, Facebook rolled out a non-answer.

“Deciding where to locate a new data centre is a multi-year process that considers dozens of different factors, including access to renewable energy, connectivity, and a strong local talent pool,” said Facebook spokesperson Jennifer Hakes.

“An essential factor, however, is ensuring that we can protect any user data stored in the facility.”

Ironically, Facebook is often a target for Singapore’s government to crack down on vocal opponents of its draconian laws. Additionally ironic is the Singapore government’s heavy use of local social media as a means of spreading its news and propaganda.

Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Linode, DigitalOcean and OVH all have data centres located in Singapore.

SOURCE: TechCrunch

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Business

No role for Transport Ministry in Thai Airways rehab plan

May Taylor

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No role for Transport Ministry in Thai Airways rehab plan | The Thaiger
Wikimedia

After initially insisting on having a say in the management of the rehabilitation plan for the beleaguered Thai Airways, the Ministry of Transport has conceded that, with its holding in the airline reduced to less than 50%, it no longer has any jurisdiction over what is now a listed public company.

Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam says the struggling carrier is no longer a state organisation under its control and administration of the court-approved rehabilitation plan now sits with the Finance Ministry.

Thai PBS World reports that both ministries had clashed over who would oversee the plan as, until filing for bankruptcy protection, the airline was both a listed public company with the Finance Ministry as its largest shareholder, and a state enterprise under the Transport Ministry.

The Transport Ministry had hoped to recommend 4 people as members of a “super board” that would oversee the administration of the airline’s rehabilitation plan, with other members to be nominated by the Finance Ministry.

The jockeying for position of the ‘super board’ has already begun with prominent names publicly putting themselves forward.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

Thailand’s economic forecast among Asia’s worst: central bank governor to step down

Jack Burton

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Thailand’s economic forecast among Asia’s worst: central bank governor to step down | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob - Chiang Rai Times

The governor of the Bank of Thailand will step down when his term ends in September. Veerathai Santiprabhob announced yesterday that he has decided against seeking a second 5 year term for “family reasons.” His departure comes as Thailand sees its economy contracting as much as 6% this year, mostly as a result of the impacts of lockdown provisions to protect citizens from the coronavirus, including closing the borders. Thailand’s economy is among the worst in Asia as Covid-19 has shattered its vital tourist sector.

Last week, the head of the BoT’s selection committee said said the application period for the next chief will run for 15 business days, from today to June 16, and the shortlist of candidates will be announced by July 2. The committee will meet on June 18 to compile the list of applicants, who will each present their vision for the central bank in late June. The candidates will not be announced until the selection process is finished, and if there is only one, or no candidates, the application period will be extended.

With the bleak economic outlook due to the the Covid-19 pandemic, the next BoT governor will face a challenging task.

Thailand’s gross domestic product is expected to shrink 5%-6% in 2020, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council. Yesterday’s estimate is “based on a limited outbreak in the second quarter,” a spokesman told journalists, adding that “the situation is still hard to predict.”

The new projection follows data showing GDP shrank 1.8% in the first quarter from a year ago, the first contraction since 2014. That was lower than the median estimate for a decline of 3.9% in a Bloomberg survey of economists and compares with revised growth of 1.5% in the fourth quarter.

Thailand relies heavily on tourism and trade, both of which have taken a severe blow as countries around the world imposed restrictions to contain the virus. Official data show a 74.6% plunge in tourist arrivals in March compared to last year.

“We don’t really see the full impact in this quarter yet. The worst is coming in the second quarter, and most of the population will be affected.”

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times

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Events

Thai Fruit Golden Month festivals to be held in 8 Chinese cities

Jack Burton

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Thai Fruit Golden Month festivals to be held in 8 Chinese cities | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Mai CityLife

8 Chinese cities will host Thailand Fruit Golden Months Festivals as local governments there begin easing lockdown measures and travel restrictions. The director-general of the Department of International Trade Promotion made the announcement yesterday, saying the the festivals will promote Thai fruit exports around China.

“The campaign aims to increase the export of durian, mangosteen, longan, mango, rose apple, coconut, pomelo and banana. China will host the festivals from May to July in Shanghai, Qingdao, Nanning, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Xiamen and Kunming.”

“For offline activities, sales booths will be set up at leading department stores in each city. As for online activities, the department and the local authorities will jointly host online business matching from May onwards to invite Chinese retailers to order Thai fruits online to sell in their stores as well as hold promotional campaigns with Chinese mobile applications, like Geso and Hema, to increase sales.”

“The department will also promote Thai fruits in other markets, such as Singapore, Myanmar and Laos in a similar manner once the local governments ease lockdown measures.”

In April, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, China opened 2 border gates in its southern Guangxi province to allow imports of Thai fruits from the Vietnamese side. Chinese are big importers of Thai fruit, especially Thai-grown durian.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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