Thai junta on Poke­mon: ‘Use time wisely’

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

POKE­MON Go’s de­but in Thai­land has alarmed the coun­try’s gen­er­als, prompt­ing the king­dom’s junta chief to warn young­sters against play­ing too much and the army to ban the game from bar­racks. The mobile app was made avail­able in Thai­land on Au­gust 6, delighting many in a coun­try where Ja­panese sub­cul­tures have a sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing.

But the game – which en­cour­ages users to hit the pave­ments in search of dig­i­tal mon­sters – has sparked safety con­cerns partly be­cause Bangkok’s streets are no­to­ri­ously pedes­trian-un­friendly.

“Thai walk­ing cul­ture is not like Ja­pan and there are lim­ited pave­ments,” gov­ern­ment spokesper­son Sansern Kaewkum­n­erd told re­porters on yes­ter­day.

He said Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha, who seized power in 2014, “does not want to ban the game”.

But the premier has urged play­ers to know “their lim­its ... and use their time wisely”, Sansern added.

“The game could harm play­ers with things like loss of money, their job, their ed­u­ca­tion as well as the re­la­tion­ships they have with the peo­ple around them,” he said.

He added that par­ents should ad­vise their chil­dren to be “self-dis­ci­plined” and use their time well.

His com­ments came as Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Prawit Wong­suwan said the game was banned in­side mil­i­tary bar­racks and gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity agen­cies.

A bar­racks in the north­ern city of Khon Kaen hoisted a sign warn­ing Poke­mon Go play­ers they faced up to three years in jail if they tres­passed onto mil­i­tary prop­erty, Chan­nel 3 tele­vi­sion showed.

Even when a pedes­trian’s eyes are firmly fixed ahead Bangkok’s streets can be a ver­i­ta­ble ob­sta­cle course.

Pave­ments are patchy and those that ex­ist are lit­tered with hur­dles from street ven­dors and fire hy­drants to pot­holes and tan­gled wiring. Thai­land’s Public Health Min­istry said the game should be wel­comed for en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to ex­er­cise but warned users to be care­ful near “roads, swim­ming pools, rivers and canals”.

Lo­cal me­dia has been filled in re­cent days with sto­ries of hun­dreds of play­ers glued to their phones out­side parks and malls. Some have even taken to us­ing mo­tor­bike taxis and cars to get a head start as they navigate the traf­fic-choked city in their search for Poke­mon.

Gior­gio Taraschi, an Ital­ian liv­ing in Bangkok, said he was lightly struck on Au­gust 8 by a man driv­ing a car while play­ing the game. “Gotta catch ‘em all ... in­clud­ing the oc­ca­sional Ital­ian,” he joked on Face­book, us­ing the game’s tagline. – JUST like count­less other coun­tries, Spain has been hit so hard by the Poke­mon Go craze that travel agen­cies are seek­ing to cash in on the global phe­nom­e­non with spe­cialised tours.

Such is the in­ter­est that Ju­nior Travel, a com­pany based in the south­ern city of Granada, has been over­whelmed with ap­pli­ca­tions from play­ers look­ing to work as guides for groups hunt­ing the game’s car­toon mon­sters, just days af­ter post­ing a job ad.

Can­di­dates must be play­ers who have reached level 20 out of 40 at least, and the firm has al­ready re­ceived more than 2000 ap­pli­ca­tions to guide tours that will take place in var­i­ous parts of south­ern Spain and the cities of Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid.

“Ev­ery minute we get three or four ap­pli­ca­tions,” said An­to­nio Bar­ra­gan, man­ager of the travel agency.

“The HR guy is a lit­tle over­whelmed.”

The aug­mented re­al­ity game, which uses satel­lite lo­ca­tions, graph­ics and cam­era ca­pa­bil­i­ties to over­lay the car­toon crea­tures on real-world set­tings, has taken Spain by storm.

Cities na­tion­wide have filled up with peo­ple walk­ing with their eyes glued onto their smart­phones, hunt­ing car­toon mon­sters with the aim of col­lect­ing as many as they can.

Ju­nior Travel’s tours will see cus­tomers driven around in a bus and given ex­pert guid­ance on hunt­ing Poke­mon, for up to 43 eu­ros (US$48) a day.

The routes are “so that peo­ple don’t get bored of the game in their city, and go hunt Poke­mon in other prov­inces”, said Bar­ra­gan.

The com­pany’s first tours to Granada from neigh­bour­ing ar­eas take place on Au­gust 12, and it also plans to launch Poke­mon routes to Madrid on Au­gust 13 and 14.

But it is not the only com­pany tak­ing ad­van­tage of Poke­mon Go in Spain.

Felices Va­ca­ciones, for in­stance, of­fers an 11-night travel pack­age for 1695 eu­ros (US$1878) to hunt in the United States, which is re­port­edly one of the only coun­tries where Tau­ros, one of the many Poke­mon crea­tures, can be caught.

Peo­ple in other coun­tries have also taken ad­van­tage of the craze, with sim­i­lar tours tak­ing place in Lon­don, Ed­in­burgh or Mex­ico City. –

Photo: AFP

No Poke­mon al­lowed, at least for these photo-tak­ing sol­diers in front of the King Rama V statue and Ananta Sa­makhom Throne Hall in Bangkok on Au­gust 8.

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