Often young people are the first to take advantage of information and communication technologies. I see this in developing countries within the region, a prevalent desire for continuous content consumption, be it via sharing on social media, engaging on the internet, advocacy with mass dissemination and, or simply for one’s private entertainment. Traditional sense of socializing, at least during the “old days” of my youth, have been aggressively challenged and even in this day and age of modernization, we still see the present socialization challenged by young people and by people of my generation.
New technology is not only bringing about the uniformed culture of information. There has been frequent outbreaks of anti-conformism to this culture, bordering on the right to internet freedom to socio-political self-awareness of ideas and propagandas. Such culture is visible in almost every corner of the youth community, where experimentation, tentative prodding and the curiosity swells.
Though often, such in Thailand, this behaviour of internet autonomy is discouraged by the cultural conservatives, right-wings and the authorities. Some groups, traditionalists fearing a backlash to their lives or to their sense of “order” and make it a point to exclude young people in decision-making process, such as in consultation for the country’s national internet-related policies.
I’ve noticed, such exclusion takes place when authorities demand for development (in this case, a so-called “reform”) of national strategies with the secret introduction of a new set of laws, governed by a rebranded government strong-arm, called “Ministry of Digital Economy“. Though in truth, its a far-removed agency with politically motivated individuals championing its conception. I worry about the digital divide, in itself caused by the junta-inspired groups of decision-makers, with unsolved social inequality, marginalization and that obvious institutional desire to ensure conformity.
— ♥ Moui ♥ (@moui) January 16, 2015
So let’s start with basic questions, by facilitating the brain juices of young people:
Are there government programs and policies that specifically address the right of participation of not just young people but also the masses into consultation in drafting laws that affect ICT? If so, what areas of focus?
Are there government-related programs to empower young people to be part of the growth of ICT in Thailand? What about NGO programs? Is the private sector involved, and what about individuals?
Have young people or youth organizations been involved with the present planning of the proposed laws? And what about the evaluation of the future impact of such laws on them?
Without their active participation in decision-making and problem-solving, and without taking into account of their concerns on censorship, surveillance and other internet regulations, the government will surely place young Thais on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Thailand apparently has road-maps for everything under the sun. Road-maps for national harmony, road-maps for unity, road-maps for peace in conflict-torn south Thailand, road-maps for digital economy, and road-maps for solidifying power.
This “road-map” is of course debatable, something that politicians and right-wing factions widely abuse when they speak to their audience, to the unconvinced rural crowds or the applauding teary-eyed urban middle class. Road-maps, aye, so often mentioned by uniformed powers that at times the general public forgets to ask what is this so-called strategy all about. I, for one, am clueless.
Clueless, simply because there is no elaboration, no detailed explanation to such a plan, during the weekly rants on telly, and in public forums organized by patriots. Often enough, officials mouth what has been repeated a thousand times, almost to the point that they themselves believe in the delusions.
Let’s take housing in Bangkok as an example, and more specifically, permanent and temporary homes for the urban poor.
Bangkok’s local government, sort of a city hall system with its own governor, has been pretty silent about housing for the poor. No word about access to low cost housing, and silent about the increasing homelessness in the mega city, this heart of the land of smiles. And what of the residents of slums, squatting on land that clearly does not belong to them. In some areas, local and foreign residents of such crowded communities, and those wandering from one street to another, are without access to the road-map.
The obvious absence of rights-based social programs for those who are in desperate need for housing is the only sure thing in this equation. Oh aye, and also the missing Bangkok governor; who seems to be frequently away from the limelight after the coup of 2014.
With the increasing speculation of an economic meltdown in the country, starting with Bangkok, people are genuinely concerned about their wages, their livelihood, their bowl of rice. Families are worried about their children’s education, their debts and their homes.
Such concerns are not solely affecting the working class and the dirt poor, as you may already know. An economic slowdown will surely affect the middle class, particularly when people are uncertain about their future despite their government’s weekly assurances of a road-map for socio-economic recovery. What does this plan envision, and how are communities involved in shaping their future? No one knows, and not many dare to ask the ruling junta. So how now? Oh hell, I’m still clueless.
I ordered, paid for a case via ShopCrackBerry. The site is supposedly the place for all BlackBerry mobiles and accessories. The cost of the “custom BlackBerry Passport skin case” didn’t bother me, though the USPS courier (US$47.95) did.
Priority Mail Express International, that’s what its called, and despite the hefty price-tag, I decided to burden the cost as I wanted the case to arrive in Thailand as swiftly as possible. I figured the only problem faced would be delays on the Thai Customs.
But then again, ShopCrackBerry tells me after days after the failure for timely delivery, that the stipulated time was merely an estimate. I’m expected to be patient, despite the delays and that horrid thought of not knowing what else I (they) could do. So what now? I’m left at the mercy of a foreign courier system that seems to take forever to reach Bangkok and curious why after paying so much that the package is still in the US. So how long will it be in the US?
And I’m not happy with ShopCrackBerry either, after all its my first time ordering online from them and the obvious delay is causing me to be edgy, and terrible anxious.
- Keep on pushing ShopCrackBerry for answers, namely what’s happening with the delivery and when will it safely reach the destination.
- Avoid using USPS.
- Just maybe, this will be my first and last time that I shop via ShopCrackBerry. After all its, not worth the headache.
I travel often to Thailand, and depend a lot on my BlackBerry for internet and communication. In the land of smiles and armed with my BB Bold 9790, I have tried the local telcos, for prepaid BB packages from Dtac, AIS and True. While as in Malaysia, I’ve tried TuneTalk, Maxis, Digi and Celcom. Huge difference to the pricing of the packages and the service.
Let’s start (click on the images) with…
I’m inclined to stick with Celcom at this rate, solely for the internet volume and naturally the features. TuneTalk is great when it comes to customer service (though at times they get confusing via call), though most of the time with far better responses than Celcom.
I’m never going back to TrueMove. Quite a horrid experience, since 2011. I recommend AIS, and if you’re a foreigner in Thailand, best to speak to a customer service officer who understands English, patient and professional. I have no problems with their service whether in the AIS stores and the call centre. Problem with Thailand: BB is unpopular and dead.
AIS, along with other Thai telcos, offer expensive BB prepaid packages. There are questionable moments of whether Thailand’s 3G coverage is actually working or simply an illusion. Don’t hold your breath.
As for Malaysia telcos, the main problem is the lack of efficiency in their customer service. Many personnel do not seem to have the right training in managing the customer, or maybe its the “tidak apa” (loosely translated, “Hey Mister, I don’t give a shit”) behaviour of those answering the calls and those manning the booths/stores. Epic fail on Malaysian courtesy.
Just over a year ago, I bought a Blackberry Q10 in Bangkok. By then Thai-urban appetite for BB plunged, them preferring the comforts of Androids – freedom of limitless apps, fashionable designs, bigger hardware and interface, and touch-screen convenience are among the many reasons for the abandonment of the security of device. Fashion over encryption, style over the no-nonsense of BB.
In August, my Q10 fell, due to an unfortunate, terrible encounter. The small portion of the screen shattered, almost hair-line, though just enough to prevent me from reading anything on the screen. Repairs, aaah the problems started from that word.
It has served me well, in three countries, during the course of my travel and work. Though the thought of its history left me deeply annoyed. Calls, emails, and DMs, tried them all to inquire about repairs. No such luck, as by then Bangkok moved away from BB’s influence. What about @BlackBerryHelp on Twitter? Forget it, sent several DMs, asking for location of a BB service centre in Malaysia, and all I got was evasive replies that left me fuming. So much for a progressive BB-service via Twitter.
Went to MBK, Fortune IT Mall, Terminal 21 then wandered into well-visited IT shopping havens, and the not-so-popular ones too. Nothing. The irritation of dependence, I guess; when I am completely at loss with the usage of other brands, and unable to shake off the BB10 obsession. The technician at the 4th flood in the Fortune IT Mall wasn’t much help, and the appearance of my BB left him appearing puzzled at perhaps an obsolete model. The so-called BB Centre at T21 was merely a lone cut-throat salesman trying to rid of his remaining stocks of Z10s and fake 500-baht battery. Aye, its within his business nature to attempt at ripping off a “tourist”.
OK, fine, so I adapt, somewhat. A second-hand Blackberry 9790 at a small stall in Rama 3 Central. Reminded me of a phone I once owned, a BB 9780, minus the touch-screen. Negotiating is an art in the countries I’ve visited, and my skills are less than proficient in Bangkok. So I called a friend, who managed to bargain from 3200 baht to about 2800 baht. Clone battery, a charging cable, a generic earplugs and hell yeah, the second-hand BB was mine. A wink, a hug and coffee was all I gave my friend, for her wondrous ability to tolerate my impatience.
I upgraded the OS to 7.1, and to my horror the BBM was without the BBM Channels and the Stickers. I could do without the Stickers (emotions), personally not my kind-of-thing to replace stickers with words, however I do have several micro-blogs in BBM Channels.
Not a good start with the 9790, and even now I am at loss of how the system prevents me from deleting the defective BBM and reinstalling the latest version applicable to my OS. Oh well, I’m already making notes of pricing for second-hand Q10s, when I return to Malaysia… unless BB Passport is released, hopefully soon; then I won’t be bursting my budget for the year.
Battery drain on the 9790 is incredible, so I uninstalled whatever apps I didn’t need. Encryption of device and memory card, wonderful. Emails via BB, fabulous and reliable. Local data plan for Blackberry Internet Service (BIS), costly though that’s within the budget.
Second-hand BBs (Bold versions) are quite good actually. Reboot the device, and you’re back in action – that is if you’re not fussy with a second-hand bruised model. As a traveller cum relief worker, I depend on sturdy phones, for report-writing, secured email environment, drafting blog-posts/articles and tweeting. I am bias, the Qwerty keyboard allows me to type quickly. Addition to incredible apps for recreational use or to keep one occupied in the loneliest moments, aha not for me.
Anyway, despite the BB hype years back in Bangkok, the reality is Blackberry is dead and buried in this city and most of the other neighbouring provinces, though still in usage by most people I know in the conflict-torn south of Thailand. BB is somewhat in subdued demand in Malaysia, while still holding strong, for now, in Indonesia. Oh hell, its practically useless in Cambodia, at least that’s what some locals tell me, preferring the Samsung or iPhone, or some suspicious-looking China-by-product of copy-and-paste R&D.
I think in this day and age of modernization, we move away from safety, preferring the comforts of apps, or half-baked security gibberish. Being a minimalist, I look for other aspects of life for nourishment, definitely not on social and “self-development” apps. The BB is useful for work, for my travels, allowing me that reliable tool to facilitate the adventure. For the moment, I’ll stick with the 9790, and will, as usual, try to push the device beyond its capacity and originality.
A rural road, in the depths of a province that I am unfamiliar with. Pathum Thani. Imposing highways, leading to narrow roads, and how I remember the small dusty town, somewhat a taint of resemblance of Phnom Penh, though not quite. The escape, away from Bangkok, was thankfully rejuvenating. The nap, a couple of hours in the moving vehicle, prepared me for the “rural” province. Relaxing, despite the signs of the dry season in these parts. I’ve always enjoyed the trips, and outreach, in rural Thailand, whether in the plantations of middle south, to the most southern fishing villages and the northern rice farms. I shall return.
My guide and friend, Nat (pronounced as “Nut”) took me to an almost sleepy town somewhere in Maha Sarakham province. The town, with a small population, was devoid of the usual tourists. A quick meal, two bowls in fact, banished the lethargic feeling when one has so little sleep. I must, truly, return to see the people and rural terrain, and experience the sensations once again.
- Of rice, farmers and perseverance, in Maha Sarakham
- Framing the Sights: Kurang Village in Phayakkhaphum Phisai
An evening of trekking in the tropical dry forest, and the exquisite flood of crisp fresh air into the lungs… quite intoxicating. In fact, being away from Bangkok even for a while is always a welcome change to routines. The Chaloem Rattankosin National Park is small, though the night, especially the late evening strolls with friends proved to be an exhilarating experience, with insects buzzing about, distant melody of birds and the swaying branches of tall trees – to the music of nature.
อินเทอร์เน็ตไทย ผ่านร้อนผ่านหนาวมาเยอะ ผ่านพ้นวัยเตาะแตะ วัยรุ่น มาสู่วัยทำงานแล้ว
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