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Facebook founder heading to BKK for talks with Thai PM

Tim Newton

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Facebook founder heading to BKK for talks with Thai PM | The Thaiger
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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is heading to Thailand at the end of October to meet with PM Prayuth Chan-ocha.

‘Like’ that! Or maybe a ‘thumbs up’.

Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak says Mark Zuckerberg intends to arrive in Bangkok on October 30 to discuss e-commerce and related Facebook issues withe the Thai PM.

The Deputy PM also added that an executive from Amazon.com intends to visit Bangkok in November for talks with Prayuth and other ASEAN leaders.

The Junta has had a vexed relationship with the social media giant. On one hand trying to use Facebook to reach out better to the Thai constituency (Gen. Prayut even opened his own Facebook page in August).

But some Facebook users have been charged for running Facebook pages and making critical comments about the government, running pollsabout his temper and behaviour and others are still in custody over their postings relating to the Thai monarchy.

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Protests

K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht

The Thaiger

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K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Fan-funded 'happy birthday' signs around Thailand's BTS and MRT station

Art meets politics again, this time with hundreds of thousands of K-Pop fans raising funds in support of the growing student protest movement in Thailand. So far they’ve raised more than 3 million baht (as of 10am this morning) but the amount is rising quickly as Thai and overseas K-Pop fans respond. The most popular band in Thailand at the moment is BTS, the South Korean septet which is currently the most popular band in the world (as of today BTS commands the Number 1 and Number 2 positions on the US Billboard singles chart).

BTS fans have so far been the largest contributors donating funds to the protest cause.

The BTS Thailand page, not to be confused with the BTS Skytrain, is urging K-pop fans to stop the practice of paying for billboards in support of their favourite idols and to celebrate the birthdays of the 7 members. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook issued a statement on their fanpage asking fans to stop funding the BTS and MRT “inconvenienced protesters and normal citizens from getting home and putting them in danger”.

Bangkok’s two main rail systems were closed down over the weekend as police and protesters played a cat and mouse game. The protesters were withholding the announcement of protest locations to the last minute whilst police second-guessed their moves, ending up in mass inconvenience for the wider public in shutting down the entire network, including the Airport link.

“We’re calling Armys and other fans to stop buying ad projects with the BTS and MRT.” (“Army” is the name of BTS fans.

Fans of K-pop groups as well as other “idol” groups often pool their resources to purchase display ads in the MRT and BTS stations wishing their stars happy birthday or on other significant anniversaries.

It’s thought that many more millions of baht will be raised by the K-Pop fans in the next few days.

The young Thai protesters are tapping into a strong social media network, and have “weaponised” the social media and messaging platforms. The main App they are now using, to communicate their intentions, is “Telegram”, developed by a young Russian couple but now operating out of Germany. The App features encypted messages, impossible to track, and has 400 million monthly active users.

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging, video telephony and voice over IP service with end-to-end encryption for secret chat only, whereas Cloud chat uses client-server/server-client encryption and its messages are stored encrypted in the Telegram Cloud – Wikipedia

Meanwhile, other K-Pop acts that have mobilised their fans win support include Girls’ Generation, GOT7, NCT, WannaOne, Nu’est, X1, Day 6, Red Velvet, MonstaC, Woodz, Shinee, Super Junior and R1se. We’re sure the fans of Black Pink are also contributing but didn’t have their figures available at the time of publishing. Fans of popular Thai actors and celebrities are also donating to the pool.

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Protests

Thai authorities push to ban, censor news outlets and social media

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai authorities push to ban, censor news outlets and social media | The Thaiger

Police are now cracking down on local media outlets covering the pro-democracy protests as well as activist group Facebook pages because they are a “threat to national security”. In addition to the police’s request to ban the content, the Digital Economy and Society Ministry is attempting to censor the Telegram social media application, saying it too poses a “threat to national security.”

The young Thai protesters are tapping into a strong social media network, and have “weaponised” the social and messaging platforms. The main App they are now using, to communicate their intentions, is “Telegram”, developed by a young Russian couple but now operating out of Germany. The App features encypted messages, impossible to track, and has 400 million monthly active users.

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging, video telephony and voice over IP service with end-to-end encryption for secret chat only, whereas Cloud chat uses client-server/server-client encryption and its messages are stored encrypted in the Telegram Cloud – Wikipedia

The Free Youth movement Facebook page, which is run by pro-democracy activists, as well as Voice TV, Prachatai, The Reporters and The Standard could be shut down or censored following the warnings (the Free Youth Facebook page is still available as of 8.30pm Monday). National Police Chief Suwat Jangyodsuk signed an order, which circulated on social media, requesting the Telecommunications Commission and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to ban those media outlets and the Facebook page.

The State of Emergency imposed early last Thursday morning bans public gatherings of more than 5 people, but also allows authorities to ban media that is considered a threat to national security.

Earlier this morning, a journalist from The Reporters said the order was not yet official and she would continue doing her duty and report on the pro-democracy protests.

Many other journalists as well as protesters and critics have spoken up against the move to silence the media. The former finance minister and government critic Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala posted on his Facebook page saying Thailand was taking steps back to a “complete dictatorship.”

Over the weekend the Bangkok Post also came under fire for reporting false information about the reason for the closedown of the BTS and MRT networks on Saturday. They eventually were forced into a retraction of the misinformation. One of their reporters, who had been covering the protests on Facebook Live feeds, has also been either dismissed or has resigned, over his “commentary” that was out of step with the Post’s editorial framework.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19

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Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19 | The Thaiger

Thailand News Today, a daily wrap up of the day’s news, delivered, free on YouTube and Facebook. Thailand’s most popular English-speaking news program, hosted by Tim Newton. Please subscribe to the YouTube Channel.

House speaker proposes extraordinary parliamentary session in wake of political unrest

A weekend of intense protest gatherings has resulted, if nothing else, in the Thai Parliament’s lower house speaker proposing an extraordinary session of parliament to discuss the current protest situation and a possible way forward.

The speaker of the lower house, Chuan Leekpai, has been discussing the matter with government and opposition MPs today.

Anti-government protests, which began in mid-July, have grown in intensity and frequency, as activists demand the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the dissolution of parliament, and fresh elections. They are also calling for a re-write of the constitution and for reform of the role of the Thai Monarchy.

Most observers see the current demands, laid out by protest leaders in a 10-point manifesto, as a “bridge too far”, and that there is little room for compromise in the current political structure. The government’s pro-royalist and conservative agenda, and its support from the Thai Army, is in stark contrast to the protester’s demands for greater democracy, reforms in Parliament and the role of the country’s revered monarchy.

Several protest leaders have already been arrested and the PM has declared a State of Emergency in Bangkok, banning gatherings of more than 5 people. Protesters continued to defy the ban over the weekend, assembling in their thousands, both in the capital and around the country.

On Friday night, riot police used high powered water cannons to force an end to a peaceful protest at the Pathumwan intersection, a decision greeted with widespread criticism from human rights groups, political observers and social media.

Last night, protesters gathered in their thousands at Victory Monument, the Asok-Sukhumvit intersection, by the Imperial World Samrong shopping centre and marched to the Bang Na intersection as well. Another 20 locations outside of Bangkok also hosted pro-democracy protests including the central provinces outside of the city in Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani, in Khon Kaen, Phuket, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai and Pattaya.

Thai PM adopts more conciliatory tone with protesters

Meanwhile, it appears that the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has switched gear to a softer tone with the young protesters calling for his resignation.

Following Friday night’s removal of protesters from the Bangkok intersection, the new, more conciliatory tone coming out of government house over the past three days has been broadly welcomed… certainly by the protesters.

The approach is in stark contrast with Friday evening’s statements from the PM that he had no intention of resigning, and that the riot police had acted “within the law”.

A government spokesman was also quoted as saying the administration is willing to listen to the issues being discussed and work to find solutions.

“The government is willing to listen to everyone’s problems and continues to solve problems in all areas.”

Meanwhile the protesters have spent most of the weekend demanding that the arrested protesters be released immediately.

Koh Samui tourism operators want cheaper flights to lure tourists

Koh Samui needs more visitors, from anywhere. A number of hotels on the island are now certified for alternative local state quarantine and tourism officials are looking to lure travellers in with cheaper flights.

But getting the prices down could be difficult. President of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says both the airport and pier are owned by the private sector, in the case of the airport, Bangkok Airways.

The Bangkok Airways’ monopoly has kept the cost of air fares to Samui inordinately high, when compared to most other air travel costs around the country.

Lucky escape for chickens in Udon Thani as crocodile caught trying to enter coop

And plucky rescue workers in the north-eastern province of Udon Thani have ruined a hungry crocodile’s dinner plans, capturing it as it was trying to enter a chicken coop.

Local rescuers were called to remove the 3 metre long croc as it was attempting to enter the chicken enclosure and enjoy some lunch.

It’s understood it took the workers, who admit to having no experience in handling crocodiles, around an hour to wrestle the crocodile and get a rope around its mouth. It then needed 5 men to transport the croc to a waiting vehicle, with the animal putting up a fight the whole way. The homeowner says she believes the animal escaped from captivity at a nearby crocodile farm.

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