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WEDNESDAY, December 07, 2022
Direct democracy ‘now possible’ in Thailand as new internet era dawns

Direct democracy ‘now possible’ in Thailand as new internet era dawns

SATURDAY, August 20, 2022

The dawning metaverse era will boost “people power” by enabling the public to directly participate in politics, three politicians told the “Thailand Metaverse Expo 2022” in Bangkok on Saturday.

Thuntee Sukchotrat, Thai Sang Thai Party’s Digital Transformation chief, explained in a seminar titled “How the Metaverse will Redefine Politics and Governments” that direct democracy is now possible thanks to new technology.

He pointed out that people’s power under representative or indirect democracy was limited to elections as representatives don’t always fulfil their promises.

However, under direct democracy they would have to listen to the people. He gave the recent example of the D-vote website, where the public participated in a parallel no-confidence vote against the government.

Thuntee also mentioned that his party is using augmented reality (AR) technology as a promotion tool. Thai Sang Thai is setting up an office in the metaverse to offer everyone 24-hour access to the party.

More significantly, new technologies could be adapted to increase government sector efficiency with strong policies that boost people’s income and reduce their living costs.

“Political technology will create a politics where people will maximise participation and their power,” he added.

Direct democracy ‘now possible’ in Thailand as new internet era dawns

Olarn Weranond, Sarng Anakot Thai Party executive and CEO/co-founder of incubator DurianCorp, said the metaverse will soon become the core of our digital lives.

Just as people now can no longer imagine life without the internet, in 10 years, life without the metaverse will be unthinkable, he predicted.

“Whether we like it or not, the metaverse will come.”

However, he noted that only 0.7 per cent of the Thai government’s annual 3-trillion-baht budget goes to metaverse-related ministries – Digital Economy and Society (MDES), Culture, and Tourism and Sports.

This indicates the government does not understand the importance of the metaverse, Olarn said. He added that less than 3 billion baht of MDES’s 6.8 billion baht budget allocation will be used for metaverse development next year.

He also had advice for people seeking to get to know the metaverse better. All they had to do was use it for their favourite pastimes, such as watching movies, playing video games, or listening to music.

He gave two examples where digital technology has already had a huge impact on politics. The first was the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal blamed for altering the course of the 2016 US presidential election while the second was the 2011 Arab Spring uprising where populations used Twitter to push for change.

Direct democracy ‘now possible’ in Thailand as new internet era dawns

Parit Wacharasindhu, Move Forward Party’s communications and policy manager, spoke via video to explain how new tech has potential to improve the country in three ways.

Comparing society and the economy to a cake that we all share, he said advances like the metaverse could be used to:

1. Make the cake bigger, or increase economic growth by using technologies to improve efficiency;

2. Divide it more equally, or reduce inequality in society by giving underprivileged and rural people access to the internet and digital learning;

3. Make it “delicious” by allowing people to help decide the country’s future via direct democracy and voting on policies and plans.

He gave two concrete examples of how the metaverse could improve people’s participation in democracy.

First, it will allow people to watch and get involved in live meetings.

Second, it will give people a better understanding of issues in the public hearings process.

He added that technology could also improve issuance of government documents and licences while combating corruption.

But he cautioned that technological advances should be viewed as a precious tool, not an obstacle. He added that new laws and regulations would be needed to allow people to participate in setting the country’s direction via tools like the metaverse.