Chaiwut vows to thwart fake news

Newly appointed Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn has promised to stymie fake news and illicit content as part of the Anti-Fake News Centre’s (AFNC) mission that forms a core part of government policy.

“The AFNC is essential for the government in dealing with illicit webpages and content on social platforms,” Mr Chaiwut told the Bangkok Post on Wednesday.

“Any content deemed to violate related laws must be strictly tackled through legal action.”

The new minister is expected to be closely monitored on the Thaicom satellites due to be handed over to the ministry after Thaicom’s satellite-operating concession contract expires this September.

CAT Telecom was previously chosen as the sole agency to deal with the satellite assets and operations after the concession expires.

Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn, newly-appointed Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister.

Mr Chaiwut said he was not concerned with the tasks awaiting his decision.

“The DES Ministry has agencies and specialists that are responsible for tasks and ongoing projects. We have to manage it by making proper decisions,” he said.

Mr Chaiwut brushed aside concerns about specific knowledge that may be required for the post.

“This is not as concerning as political wrangling that could happen between organisations,” he said.

Mr Chaiwut declined to elaborate on which tasks should be treated as first priority, saying he would announce it on his first official working day at the ministry.

Chakkrit Urairat, chief regulatory officer at SET-listed True Corporation, a telecom and digital solution provider, welcomed the new minister who should play a key role in pushing for digital transformation and the adoption of innovation.

“The new minister has an engineering background, but he also has experience in business management, which would be good for digital industries,” said Mr Chakkrit.

Pichit Viwatrujirapong, president of the Association of Thai ICT Industry (ATCI), said he hopes the minister would gear up efforts to strengthen the country’s innovation, technology and human resource capability so as to increase the country’s competitiveness as it becomes a digital economy and pushes towards digital transformation.

ATCI wants the DES minister to support R&D skills for Thais, particularly in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, big data and health tech.

Vichai Bencharongkul, chairman of Digital Economy and E-Commerce Committee under the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade, said he wants to see a smooth transition for National Telecom (NT) following the merger of TOT and CAT Telecom, and the continuity of various NT projects, such as bringing overhead cables underground, the government data centre and 5G development for NT.

As the Personal Data Protection Act is set to be fully enforced in June, small businesses may not be ready to comply with the law, he said. The ministry can help with a relief plan for these businesses, said Mr Vichai.

Industry observers have commented the new minister will be under scrutiny on how he addresses NT’s strategic 5G moves and related policies.

Mr Chaiwut’s appointment was announced in the Royal Gazette on Tuesday. He replaces Buddhipongse Punnakanta, who was convicted for his role in protests and removed from the cabinet.

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