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Junta seeks to block social-media access to ‘inappropriate content’

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Junta seeks to block social-media access to ‘inappropriate content’
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The junta’s online content monitoring panel will seek cooperation from social-network operators to block accessibility in Thailand to Facebook pages, Line groups and YouTube videos that have inappropriate content, especially those deemed as violating lese majeste restrictions and national security.

The resolution came after a meeting yesterday of the committee to monitor and regulate Internet and social-network use set up by the Information and Communications Technology Ministry on Tuesday under a National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) command.

Committee member Pol Maj General Pisit Pao-in said that in the next two days the ICT Ministry would send representatives to meet executives of Facebook and Google in Singapore and Line in Japan to seek cooperation in blocking access for Thai people to inappropriate content over these platforms. The ministry will also ask them not to allow the opening of pages with “inappropriate” content.

The move is aimed at curbing content that violates the NCPO’s 12th, 17th, and 18th announcements, which ordered online operators to suspend messages deemed as insulting the monarcy, provocative, inciting violence or critical of the military leaders, causing misunderstanding among the public or disturbing peace and order.

According to the announcements, operators of social media and Internet service providers (ISPs) have been urged to block the spreading of false information and messages that incite unrest or opposition to what the junta calls peacekeeping efforts.

“Currently, more than 200 online contents, including Facebook pages and website pages, have been closed because they violated the NCPO’s orders. We blocked them under the authority given to us by the NCPO’s 26th order,” Pisit said. He added that the committee monitored only public areas over the social network and kept a close watch on specific suspect accounts. They insisted that they were not against people’s online privacy.

There are three working panels under the committee to enforce three tasks: for directing, for information verification and analysis, and for investigation and suppression.

The inability to access Facebook on Wednesday afternoon had nothing to do with the ICT Ministry’s orders, Pasit said. Thais were unable access Facebook because of technical problems somewhere on the connection route between the international Internet gateway and the social network’s server, he said.

“It was the misunderstanding of ISPs that they thought Facebook was down because of an order, hence they posted a banner saying, ‘This Web page cannot be accessed because of the NCPO’s command.’ We did not block Facebook,” Pisit insisted.

Facebook users were furious when they were briefly unable to access the social medium on Wednesday. The NCPO responded quickly by saying it had no policy to block social media and ordered the ICT Ministry to fix the problem at the gateway.

Yanapol Yungyuen, a member of the committee, said the panel worked under the NCPO’s command to keep peace in the country without intention to harm people’s online life and privacy. He also urged people not to put unverified content online and or on social networks, especially Line’s group messages and Facebook.

The committee held its first meeting on Tuesday after being set up by the coup commanders. Pisit said the committee had invited ISPs as well as Facebook and Line representatives to seek their cooperation. However, Line and Facebook did not send representatives to the meeting.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Today marks the ‘official’ end of tourist visa amnesty

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Today marks the ‘official’ end of tourist visa amnesty | The Thaiger

“Technically you will still be able to report to immigration and sort out your visa on Monday.”

And that, as they say, is that – the end of the twice-extended visa amnesty. Today is the official end of the Thai government’s visa amnesty for those staying in the country on tourist visas. The amnesty was originally given 6 months ago after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of borders and suspended international flights. Despite calls for the government to extend the amnesty yet again from the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the government has not made any announcements that would allow those on tourist visas to stay in the country legally after today’s end date.

For those tourists still stranded in Thailand, they would have needed to provide a letter from their respective embassies that would provide proof that they are unable to travel out of the country by today’s date. Such reasons include medical, flight availability or the Covid situation remaining poor in their home countries. Those who have not provided a letter or have not sorted their visas by today’s date will reportedly face overstay fines of 500 baht per day with a maximum of 20,000 baht in total fines. Other repercussions include being arrested, imprisoned, deported and/or blacklisted from entering Thailand for certain periods that coincide with the amount of time overstayed.

The Royal Thai Immigration has warned numerous times of the approaching end date and what could happen to those who fail to fix their visas properly, however, some immigration centres are open today and/or extending the end date to Monday as the last chance to sort out visas. Such centres are located in Chiang Mai and other provinces, giving foreigners an extra day without receiving an overstay fine.

Today’s end date has some in disagreement over Thailand’s handling of the situation, with critics saying the hard line stance is set to turn off future tourists from the country as well as taking away the only income that some businesses are receiving during the battered economy. Such tourists who are staying for a long time need accommodations that undoubtedly help such businesses stay afloat when international tourists are unable to enter the kingdom.

Technically you will still be able to report to immigration and sort out your visa on Monday as today was meant to be a closed day, although many Immigration offices were open. At least the Chiang Mai Immigraiton office announced yesterday that it would tend to visa extensions and business on Monday, without penalty.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Thailand

Government to stir economy with 100 billion baht stimulus starting in October

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Government to stir economy with 100 billion baht stimulus starting in October | The Thaiger

The Thai Government is expected to stimulate the economy with 100 billion baht boost starting in October until the end of the year. The injection will reportedly come from both the people’s and the government’s spending under three stimulus measures according to the Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow.

The first measure will reportedly give 14 million welfare cardholders an extra 500 baht discount over the next 3 months on their shopping with the budget for this measure totalling 21 billion baht. The second measure, dubbed “Kon La Khreung” or Let’s Go Halves, will give 10 million people up to 100 baht discounts daily on beverages and household essentials with the subsidy being capped at 3,000 baht per person. The scheme will not, however, include such things as alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.

The third measure is aimed at wealthier Thais as tax incentives and will be offered in an effort to encourage them to spend more as consumers. The Cabinet has also approved a measure to pay 260,000 new graduates half of their salary to help the private sector. That budget is reportedly totaling 19.5 billion baht.

Supattanapong also predicts the economy will improve next year but warns it could take 2 years before the nation’s economic growth returns to the pre-Covid level. He says the country’s current budget is sufficient to boost the economy unless there is a second wave of Covid.

“But in the event that there is a second wave, the government is prepared to borrow more as its national debt is quite low compared to other countries. However the government is being cautious so it can remain financially healthy in the post-Covid era.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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“Bad Student” movement by high-schoolers continues fight against authorities

The Thaiger

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“Bad Student” movement by high-schoolers continues fight against authorities | The Thaiger

A movement, dubbed by some of Thailand’s high-schoolers as ‘Bad Student’, is advancing the fight against education authorities as students are trying to break up the country’s strict, or as they claim, archaic, education system. The movement’s name takes after a university student activitst’s book about his experiences in a government high school. The recent rebellion of students coincides with the recent massive Thammasat University anti-government protests in Bangkok, which are demanding reform of the government, constitution and revered Monarchy. 17 year old Peka Loetparisanyu tells Reuters that their rights are being violated.

“There’s a viral saying that ‘our first dictatorship is school’.”

Some of the students are reportedly wearing white ribbons, cutting their hair in public and showing the now popular protest symbol of the 3-finger salute, reminiscent of the Hunger Games movie franchise, during the morning national anthem which is a requirement at all government schools.

Supporters of the pro-democracy movement say Thailand’s education system is more about compliance rather than education as its rigid rules require students to dress in uniforms, have a certain length of hair and conform to specific hairstyles. The white ribbons being adorned by some of the high-schoolers represent “purity of the students” whilst the 3-fingered salute is being used as a call for democracy.

But their seemingly rebellious actions have not gone completely unnoticed by officials as the Thai Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan earlier this year softened hair length and style rules for government schools.

“I feel that by listening to them, I’m giving them an opportunity to voice their concern safely.”

Such rebellious acts by students have led to parents being outraged over teachers reprimanding students and occasionally humiliating them publicly. Just this year, a student was given an ‘ugly haircut’by a teacher in front of her peers after she showed up to school with a hairstyle that did not precisely meet the requirements.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

 

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