Competitiveness: Yingluck’s plans to improve public access to state information may bring “Information Society”

  • By Tammy, Thai Intel’s humanity journalist

As most people knows, the modern age moves on information-and that is where the expression “Information Society” comes from. Here n Thailand, the public is so ill-informed, of public domain information, the Thai society suffers from a “Knowledge Based Deficit.”

But it was not always that way in Thailand. A few years back, when the talk of “Knowledge Based Society” became very popular globally, here in Thailand, Taksin started Thailand on the road to a knowledge based society.

Taksin, was in fact, the pioneer, not only in Thailand, but globally to categorized all the traditional and modern knowledge of Thailand, with a computer system-and a Thai knowledge center.

However, about 3 years ago, I was doing research that needed the in-put of cutting-edge Thai university research-to which I was told the knowledge was not accessible, but only accessible to certain individual with clearances. So I tried to get clearance, but the university rejected the request. So I could not follow-up on my research.

Then a few years ago, there were widespread talk in the Bangkok Media community, of vast amount of Abhisit government spending on public relations work-that went mostly to the Nation Group and a few other selected media close to the Democrat Party-where everyone knows that the Abhisit and the Nation group are close.

So I dig deep into the government’s public relations efforts, and found that most of the public relations money by Abhisit, that is, in combination, in the US$ billions, went mostly through public relations companies. So the trace stopped there, because I could not find the link between Abhisit public relations spending and the Nation group.

But overall, Thai Intel, as a study center, is extremely frustrated, by level of public information available-and perhaps it is not the fault of Thailand, but the fault of how the globe have developed. For example, the USA and European system of distributing state information-literally, is like decades ahead of Thailand.

The following is from the Thai Government Announcement:

The Public to Be Provided with Greater Opportunities to Have Access to Information

(03/10/2011)

The Government has selected 14 model government agencies in a pilot project to set up official information centers, as part of an effort to provide the public with greater opportunities to have access to information.

The 14 model agencies are from 13 provinces, namely Nonthaburi, Chon Buri, Surat Thani, Phetchaburi, Yala, Surin, Lamphun, Kamphaeng Phet, Saraburi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nakhon Sawan, Yasothon, and Uttaradit.

Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Kritsana Seehalak on September 30 witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the project between the Office of the Permanent Secretary under the Prime Minister’s Office and the 13 provinces. The project was launched by the Office of the Official Information Commission, in accordance with the 1997 Official Information Act, which makes the official information available for public inspection. It also aims to encourage each province to develop model agencies in response to the Official Information Act. Under the Act, almost all official information should be revealed to the public, while only some categories of information that the State may keep confidential are exempted from disclosure.

In the Government’s policy statement delivered to the National Assembly, the Government will promote the people’s opportunities to extensively, fairly, and promptly access public and official information, mass media, and all other public media outlets. By so doing, it will promote and improve the people’s access to information by utilizing information technology and the latest innovations, as well as promote the exchange of information between the ASEAN and global mass media.

The Government will also promote and improve mass communication technology and network, as well as amend laws that create obstacles to the modern media operations. It will encourage the media to take a leading role in problem-solving and in the country’s development by increasing programs with contents that are beneficial to the people, such as education, arts, culture, morality, innovation, disaster warning, or other programs that would be beneficial for the public, through coordination with the public, private, and civic sectors.

The Government will promote freedom and independence of all mass media outlets in presenting news and information with social responsibility and concern for professional ethics. It will also promote the creation of balanced news for impartiality.

In other related news, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on October 1 began a weekly radio program “Yingluck Government Meets the People.” The program, which is broadcast on Radio Thailand and relayed to the NBT Television on Saturdays at 08.30 hr, aims to present the operations of the Government. Each minister will also take turns providing information to the general public in the program, as well.

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