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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
  3. It takes a child to see the junta has no clothes By The Nation No one can be surprised that Deputy PM Prawit was unnerved by children’s free expression during semester-opening ceremonies Those who fear the free expression of children also fear the future. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan was among “respected elders” unnerved last week by the political views expressed in pedestals designed by high school students. Students across the country, from northeastern Nong Khai province to Phitsanulok and southern Trang, were paying respect to their teachers by displaying independent thought in ceremonies to mark the start of the semester. Traditionally, each student prepares a display of joss stick, candle and flowers, while each class creates a pedestal tray to place before their teacher. This year, many of the pedestal trays drew their themes from political events – including the scandal over Prawit’s multimillion-baht luxury watch collection. Students from Chumpol Phisai school in Nong Khai province took sarcastic aim at another political development, with the motif of a weighing-balance on which “250 Votes” on one side outweighed “Millions of Votes” on the other. The pedestal obviously referred to the recent prime ministerial election, in which 250 junta-appointed Senators helped elect General Prayut Chan-o-cha to the top government post against the wishes of millions of civilian voters. This was politics as per usual – seen on a daily basis ever since a military coup toppled an elected government in 2014. Yet authorities took offence at the notion that students would offer free comment on everyday reality. After photos of the pedestal tray spread on social media, police from Phon Phisai station in Nong Khai province visited the school and ordered the students to delete every picture shared online. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit claimed the high school students were tools of a conspiracy among adults who were exploiting the occasion for political gain. “Teenagers could not express ideas about political developments in this way by themselves. They have must have been brainwashed, perhaps by teachers spiteful about the new [ministerial] portfolios,” he said. Prawit’s reaction reflected a conviction, widespread among Thai adults, that children are incapable of thinking for themselves and must always follow the directions of adults. In fact, what the children had expressed was already in the public domain. Indeed, many of them would have had nothing to say had Prawit himself been clear and transparent about his assets and wealth. Nobody, meanwhile, would be expressing negative views about the junta had it accepted democratic norms instead of doing everything it could to perpetuate its power. The junta’s actions over the past five years have been an embarrassment by any truly democratic standard, culminating in the selection of senators who then did their duty by helping General Prayut back into power. Rather than seeking conspiracy theories behind legitimate criticism and free speech, powers-that-be should recognise that all citizens, young and old, have equal rights and freedoms in an open democratic society. People must be able to express their views on political developments and the future of the country. Students will one day inherit the country; they are the future. As such, it is heartening to see them expressing concern over political setbacks that threaten the nation’s development. As long as the younger generation continues to question and criticise those in power, we remain hopeful of positive change – especially once this current crop of authoritarian leaders has gone. The future of our country lies in the hands of our children. Let’s support and nurture their independent thinking. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30371278 -- © Copyright The Nation 2019-06-18 Follow Thaivisa on LINE for breaking Thailand news and visa info
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