Experts worried about lack of Thai digital skills

THE HYPE over Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Bt11-billion investment in Thailand, announced last Thursday, and its huge Tmall online platform has only masked the country’s fundamental weaknesses in embracing the digital technology for economic and social benefits, according to experts.

Alibaba deal paving way for a monopoly?

Even though there were as many as 60,000 online orders for Thai durians in one day on Tmall, which covers the huge Chinese market of 1.4 billion consumers, on April 19 when the investment announcement was made, critics said it was unclear whether Thai durian growers and other farmers would gain from Alibaba’s bigger presence in Thailand.

Chotichai Bua-dit, president of the Rayong fruit orchard operators’ club, said it was good news that Thai durian growers had received many advance orders due to the advent of Alibiba, which already owns Lazada, the No 1 e-commerce site in Thailand. However, he is not sure whether durian and other farm prices will be depressed by these giant online platforms in the future due to their monopolistic power.

Suwit Saeng-arkard, the leader of another Rayong durian growers’ group, said Thai durian growers should benefit from Alibaba’s bigger presence as they will have more opportunities to sell their output, especially via online platforms.

Pramote Ruamsuk, adviser of the Eastern Provinces’ Chamber of Commerce, said he is not sure whether Thai farmers would gain more from Alibaba since there have been many Chinese businessmen setting up operations in Thailand to buy durians directly from farmers for online sales.

Somchai Ngamvannagul, a durian grower, said the wholesale price of Monthong durians had risen to Bt100 per kilogram from Bt70 earlier this month, but the supply is expected to be less than last year’s, so prices will probably be strong.

On Alibaba’s presence in Thailand, he said any benefits in the short term should be minimal for Thai durian growers due to this year’s expected lower supply.

Dr Nipon Poapongsakorn, a distinguished fellow at Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) and expert on the agriculture sector, said e-commerce platforms in general were good for Thai farmers since there are no middlemen to take profits.

Regarding Alibaba’s bigger presence in Thailand, he said that Alibaba’s Tmall online marketplace has a solid reputation in protecting the interests of buyers, since it will not pay the sellers if their products are not satisfactory.

However, he said Thailand is not well-prepared to take advantage of online platforms and other features of the digital economy due to the shortage of qualified personnel and lack of inter-ministerial policy coordination.

For example, there is a shortage of people with skills in big data, analytics, artificial intelligence and other areas crucial to develop the digital economy.

In the case of Alibaba he said the Chinese e-commerce giant was not only selling products and services online, but it also provided loans on the digital platform using the massive data generated by millions of online transactions between buyers and sellers.

Nipon said the country had not been able to produce enough graduates with skills in digital and related fields to serve the massive investment projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor. He said the government should work more closely with universities and research institutes to support its Thailand 4.0 initiative.

The Nation 

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Police Chief orders crackdown on foreign mafia gangs

The Deputy Spokesman of the Royal Thai Police (RTP) disclosed that the police chief had ordered strict and continuous crackdowns on foreign mafia gangsters following a raid on the group sex party in Pattaya on Saturday night.

RTP Deputy Spokesman Col Krissana Phatthanacharoen said police had cracked down on a sex party held by a Chinese man in Pattaya, Chon Buri over the weekend.

All suspects, both Thais and foreigners, have been arrested and prosecuted as it affects the country’s images, he said.

He went on to say that Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, the police chief, has always emphasized the policy to prevent crimes, especially transnational crimes and to seriously and continually crack down on foreign criminal gangsters.


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Sex swingers in Pattaya: Participants let go with a warning but hotel faces 18 million baht fine

The 28 Thai and foreign participants at a sex swingers party raided in Pattaya were mostly let go.

One Filipino was found to be on drugs and one person was overstaying their visa but the others had their records taken and were released without charge.

Earlier videos had shown tourist, immigration and local police and soldiers under the direction of Banglamung district chief Naris Niramaiwong and Pattaya station chief Apichai Krobpetch raiding the property on Pratumnak Hill.

Embarrassed participants were rounded up covered in towels and sheets to protect their identities. Condoms and lubricants were shown.

Participants were from the US, Canada, Ukraine, Pakistan, Singapore, the Philippines, China, Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand reported Sanook yesterday.

Owner 53 year old Serngchai from China is facing charges of operating a hotel without a licence and running a lewd event for profit.

Three staff are being charged as accessories.

The hotel owner can do jail time of up to a year and be fined 20,000 baht. But he faces shelling out 18 million baht which is 10,000 a day for every day of the five years he has been in operation.


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Man arrested for beating up girlfriend in Facebook Live broadcast

A man has been arrested after assaulting and humiliating his girlfriend and broadcasting the attack on Facebook Live.
During the attack, the man was seen using a broomstick to hit his girlfriend in the face and body several times.

He also forced her to slap her own face and to keep apologising to him while addressing him by his nickname.

Officers went to a condominium in Bangkok’s Nawamin area at 7pm on Sunday after being told about the incident and when they arrived, they found Chaichiana Sirichart, 26, who appeared high on meth use, said Pol Gen Weerachai Songmetta, deputy police commissioner general.

When police arrived, Chaichana allowed only one officer to go into the room to talk, whereupon he released the woman. He was finally arrested about two hours of negotiations.

Weerachai said Chaichana admitted to having used drugs and attacked his girlfriend out of jealousy.

Chaichana was charged with assault, causing physical and mental harm, detaining another person against their will and violating the computer crime act.

Weerachai is urging the public to call 191 or use Police I Lert U app to immediately report such incidents immediately they come across them so police can act speedily to rescue the victims.

The Nation 

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“Lady boy doctor” tells tourist: Come back when you’re dying! Google the meaning of ER”

A tourist who went to the ER department of Bang Lamung Hospital this morning was allegedly refused treatment and told to “come back when you’re dying”.

Furious girlfriend Pornthida Thundee, 25, from Surin, turned to reporters at PattayaupdateNews after she said that she took 28 year old Iranian tourist Mohammad Hassan Forghani to the emergency room.

He was suffering with an ear problem.

Pornthida said that they registered and waited for over an hour to see the doctor who then allegedly said:

“Is he dying?……this is ER unless he is dying don’t bother coming”.

Then sarcastically the doctor is alleged to have said that they should Google ER to find out what an emergency room is for.

Pornthida then claimed he was refused treatment though the hospital said he could come back later according to the news report.

“Are these the ethics of a Thai doctor?,” asked an agitated Pornthida who took her boyfriend to another hospital where he was seen.

The Iranian confirmed himself on video that he was asked to come back “after you die”.

Though not mentioned in the news report Pornthida said in the video that the doctor at the center of the controversy was male and was a “katoey” or lady boy.

PattayupdateNews said that the doctor concerned had gone home and there was no one else available for comment to give the hospital’s side of events.

Thai Visa

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YouTuber who posted about taxi driver goes to police after receiving “extortion” email

The Youtuber who made and posted a damning video of a taxi driver after a journey from Suvarnabhumi airport has gone to police after receiving an email that looks like an extortion attempt.

Daniel Lee McKee, 30, – also known as Danny Mac on his popular YouTube channel – showed an email he has received to Pol Capt Thanongsak Inphadung.

The email uses a foreign name “Thierry Perenon”.

The sender claims to be a friend of the taxi driver, Thong, saying that he has suffered as a result of the video. It goes on to claim that the sender was instrumental in the arrest of Anastasia Vasukevich in the infamous “sex instructor’s” case in Pattaya saying that she faces 10 years jail.

The sender claims to have a real badge and DSI and CSD connections. Both are special investigative police departments.

The email alleges that Mr McKee is breaking Thai law and does not have a work permit.

And for spreading “fake news” 200,000 baht is demanded.

Then comes what may be construed as a further threat: “When someone takes a video with a phone you see what happens to them”.

Three options are given for payment of the 200,000 with a name of “Jirawan Bootjan” based in Bangkok mentioned in bank details.

Mr McKee said in a video that he felt uncomfortable about all this and Siam Chon News said in their story that he felt he was in danger.

The news media also said that Mr McKee is British. He was previously reported in the Thai media as being from the US.

Thaivisa are trying to verify this and other details with Mr McKee but have thus far been unsuccessful in hearing from him.

Last week the taxi driver Thongkham Sakaew, 50, was arrested and appeared in the Thai media in tears saying he had always been a good driver.

He was shown on the video calling his passenger mean. It was said that he initially refused to turn on the meter and then was reluctant to return 75 baht in change after the journey because he wanted a tip.

The YouTuber explained in fluent Thai what had transpired from his point of view.

He told Sian Chon News that the matter with the taxi driver that happened on the 27th of March was all over.

But the email he has just received is a different matter.

It is not yet known what police station he reported to.

Thai Visa / Siamchon News


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US report details Thai rights abuses

THAILAND’S military junta remained a human rights abuser over the past year by limiting civil liberties, notably restriction of freedom of speech and assembly, according to the US State Department’s annual report on human rights.

The report, released on Friday local time in Washington DC, said that numerous National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) decrees limiting civil liberties remained in effect during the year. NCPO Order No 3/2015, which replaced martial law in March 2015, grants the military government sweeping power to curb “acts deemed harmful to national peace and stability”, it said.

Political prisoners and detainees were highlighted in the report, which noted that the NCPO routinely detained those who expressed political views. The report said that, as of August, the Department of Corrections had reported 135 persons were detained or imprisoned in the country under lese majeste laws. Human rights groups have claimed that the prosecutions and convictions of several lese majeste offenders were politically motivated. Police arrested student activist Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa in December 2016 for sharing on Facebook a link to a Thai-language BBC profile of the new monarch that allegedly contained defamatory information. In addition to limitations on civil liberties imposed by the NCPO, other significant human rights issues included: excessive use of force by government security forces, including harassing or abusing criminal suspects, detainees and prisoners; arbitrary arrests and detention by government authorities; abuses by government security forces confronting the continuing ethnic Malay-Muslim insurgency in the southernmost provinces; corruption; sexual exploitation of children; and human trafficking.

The report said that while the authorities had taken steps to investigate and punish officials who abused human rights, official impunity continued to be a problem, especially in the southernmost provinces.

The report detailed many cases of disappearance in different contexts, such as that of Pholachi “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, a prominent Karen human rights defender missing since 2014, and activist Withipong “Koh Tee” Kodthammakul.

The Nation 

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Thai man, 30, in alleged Phuket handgun suicide

A 30-year-old Thai man was found dead inside a property in Wichit this morning (Apr 21) after allegedly committing suicide by shooting himself in the head with a handgun.

Lt Sirinya Klaisombat of the Wichit Police received a report earlier today where it was stated a man been found with a gunshot wound to his head in a house at the Phuket Villa Suanluang housing estate on the unnamed road which leads between Chao Fah East and West roads.

Lt Sirinya along with forensic police and rescue workers arrived at the house to find the body of the man leaning with his back at the top of the bed on a pillow. A serious gunshot wound was found on the right side of his head.

Beside the body was a handgun with a spent cartridge nearby. More than six bullets were found near the bed with a sorry letter to his family, lover and friends.

Forensic police collected all evidence for further investigation. The man’s body was taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town.
Lt Sirinya said, “The man was alone in the bedroom while other family members were in other rooms. They heard the sound of the shot and found that the man was dead.

There were no signs of a struggle. However, we are continuing our investigation,” Lt Sirinya noted.

The Phuket News


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Dead Irrawaddy dolphin found on Trat beach

The rotten carcass of an Irrawaddy dolphin was washed ashore at a Trat beach on Saturday morning.

Officials were informed about the carcass by staff at the Banchuen Beach Resort in Tambon Mai Rood, Klong Yai district.

Officials said the dolphin was about 1.5 metres long and it might have died seven to 10 days ago. They recorded details of the dolphin and buried the carcass.

The Nation 

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Taxi drivers to be given English-speaking crash course

Taxi drivers at Suvarnabhumi international airport will be the first group of cabbies to be given a crash course in English conversation and basic writing free of charge.

The training courses would be provided by the Thailand Professional Qualification Institute under a cooperation agreement signed Friday (April 20) with the Skill Development Department and Airports of Thailand.

Suthi Sukoson, director-general of Skill Development Department, said after the agreement signing ceremony that taxi drivers at Suvarnabhumi international airport were the first group of people giving service to foreign tourists or travelers.

“They (cabbies) represent the first line of defence to welcome the tourists and, therefore, it is necessary that they must cause impression for the tourists,” he said, adding that his department initiated the English programme, called “English for Taxi Drivers”, to provide a training course in English conversation and basic English writing to the cabbies.

The programme covers basic English conversation that is normally used such as self introduction, greetings, and giving basic information about tourist destinations.

Taxi drivers at Suvarnabhumi international airport would be the first group eligible to apply to attend the training course, he said.

Pisit Rangsaritwutikul, director of Thailand Professional Qualifications Institute,  said the cabbies would undergo one-day training after which they must sit a writing test.

On the second day, the cabbies will undergo interviewing test about their English speaking skill and understanding and about proper service for tourists.  Those who pass the tests will be issued with a certificate which is good for three years but the certificate will be confiscated once the cabbies break the rule.

According to AOT, about 6,000 taxi drivers are in need of skill training in safe driving and in providing customer-friendly services.

Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Jantong said he expected about 1,000 taxi drivers to pass the tests this year.

Thai PBS

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