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  1. The promise to be found in Facebook’s Libra By The Nation If it is not to be left behind, Thailand should take note of ground-shaking developments like this Facebook has unveiled plans to launch a new cryptocurrency called Libra, seeking to expand the world’s largest social-media platform into a much bigger ecosystem that, if it had its way, will roil global financial waves in a big way. With more than two billion users worldwide, including about 50 million in Thailand, Facebook said it would develop the digital currency as a pivotal part of its current sharing platforms to offer its users a new medium for managing their income and spending. With Libra stored on personal digital wallets tied to the social network, traditional currencies such as the dollar, euro and baht will face a new challenge as they navigate the rapid growth of the digital economy and digital society. According to Facebook, its mission is to tap the estimated 1.7 billion people around the world who still have no traditional bank accounts or access to modern financial services, and yet they account for 31 per cent of the world population. Libra in intended to serve them. They can use the digital unit as medium of exchange for goods and services as well as for cross-border money transfers. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will also benefit from the new currency, especially in terms of obtaining credit on Facebook. Facebook is also in the process of setting up Calibra as a subsidiary to run the digital-currency operation. For security purposes, it would ensure that users’ financial data is kept wholly separate from other personal data lodged with Facebook’s social-media platforms. To avoid wild pricing fluctuations, as has been the case with Bitcoin, Libra will be backed by real assets, such as bank deposits and government bonds, as well as equity stakes put down by Facebook and its partners to serve as the currency’s reserves. At least 27 entities, among them Mastercard, Paypal, Uber and Spotify, have agreed to participate in the Libra programme, which can be used to pay for a wide range of goods and services which in the future could challenge the relevance of traditional currencies. Underpinning Libra and other cryptocurrencies is the distributed ledger technology known as blockchain, whose applications are diverse and promise to reform the economy and society in a major way. In this context, Thailand should not miss the technology bandwagon. The new government needs to focus on developing human assets, especially for blockchain developers. At present, several Southeast Asian countries have made headway on blockchain and on other related technology fronts. Vietnam in particular has built up formidable manpower in technology, including for blockchain developers. Thailand’s domestic shortage has led to the need for imported IT workers, especially blockchain developers from Vietnam. Hence, the new government needs to pursue the next stage of the “Thailand 4.0” initiative with a human-capital focus to ensure that the country is not a net importer of skilled workers for the digital age, but a thriving platform for digital skill development and re-training platforms. Successful structural changes and digital transformation will figure prominently as the country’s KPI (key performance indicators) over the next decade, as increasingly evidenced by Facebook and the like. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30371501 -- © Copyright The Nation 2019-06-21 Follow Thaivisa on LINE for breaking Thailand news and visa info
  2. Prayut now prey to ‘wolves’ of democracy By The Nation Elected politicians in his own party are baying for Cabinet posts – and there may be nothing the new PM can do to satisfy them Beset by competing demands of elected politicians as he struggles to form a government, General Prayut Chan-o-cha is fast-learning that politics is a matter of negotiation and bargaining rather than dictating. Prayut, who exploited the nation’s military to seize power from an elected civilian government five years ago, was re-appointed premier under the parliamentary system last week. The junta-sponsored charter eased his passage back to the top job with a bloc vote from the 250 senators it appointed, but Prayut now finds himself stripped of his special powers as he seeks support in the elected House of Representatives. Prayut may have been nominated by the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat, but the party does not belong to him. Its MPs are entirely unconcerned with Prayut’s status as they demand seats in his Cabinet on grounds that they represent voters from their large power bases. Ekarat Changlao, Phalang Pracharat party-list MP and chairman of its strategic committee in the Northeast, threatened to reconsider his collaboration with the party when it failed to hand any ministerial seats to his MPs from the region last week. Meanwhile, Niphan Sirithorn, Phalang Pracharat MP from Trang province, demanded ministerial seats for his group in the South. The general election saw Phalang Pracharat win 13 seats in the South, making inroads into the traditional Democrat Party stronghold. The group said citizens in the South had voted for Phalang Pracharat candidates because they believed the party would help them solve the problems of low rubber and oil palm prices. The two regional groups represent old but realistic political arrangements, since they claim a legitimate mandate from local voters who want action at the national level. For the MPs, Parliament and government is the forum where they can negotiate to divert resources and wealth back to their constituencies. The voters chose these MPs as the best representatives of their interests. Amid this new democratic arrangement, Prayut meanwhile finds himself shorn of the status he has enjoyed for the past five years. As coup leader in 2014, he was Army chief in charge of a vast military force that then supported his absolute power as prime minister. With special powers afforded by the junta, he dictated government personnel and actions, limited media freedom and effectively banned all political activities. Article 44 has been his iron fist with which no one can argue. While that special power remains until the new Cabinet is sworn in, Prayut cannot legitimately exercise it to dictate the democratically elected politicians even within Phalang Pracharat. Prayut can no longer shut the mouths of MPs, who are free to vote or not to vote to support his government. If they vote against the party line, Phalang Pracharat could purge them. But thanks to the military-sponsored charter, if they manage to join a new party within 60 days, they can continue as MPs. Without strong military back-up and his special powers, Prayut may realise that he has no leverage over the elected MPs. Meanwhile, why should they continue supporting the general in Parliament if they have nothing to give to voters in their constituencies? Prayut faces what appears to be a mission impossible. His only way of handling parliamentary politics would be to adapt and evolve into the same species he has so often expressed disdain for. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30371348 -- © Copyright The Nation 2019-06-19 Follow Thaivisa on LINE for breaking Thailand news and visa info
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