Bangkok po­lice: ‘De­tain any Poke­mon-play­ing driv­ers’

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

PO­LICE in Bangkok an­nounced a crack­down on Au­gust 22 against Thai driv­ers play­ing Poke­mon Go fol­low­ing com­plaints that the craze was bring­ing fur­ther gridlock to an al­ready no­to­ri­ously con­gested me­trop­o­lis.

The mo­bile app – which en­cour­ages users to hit the pave­ments in search of dig­i­tal mon­sters – was made avail­able in Thai­land ear­lier this month de­light­ing many in a coun­try where Ja­panese sub­cul­tures have a sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing.

But the game has since sparked a flurry of head­lines in the lo­cal press as well as un­ease among the king­dom’s mil­i­tary lead­ers.

“The po­lice chief has asked all po­lice­men to de­tain any Poke­mon play­ers who play while us­ing the roads,” deputy na­tional po­lice spokesper­son Colonel Kris­sana Pat­tanacharoen told re­porters.

“Peo­ple have a right to play the game but it must not af­fect other peo­ple’s rights,” he added.

Colonel Veer­avit Vatchana­pukka, from the city’s traf­fic po­lice, said teams of of­fi­cers on mo­tor­bikes would stake out key ar­ter­ies in the cap­i­tal hop­ing to catch driv­ers in the act.

“We do not aim to ar­rest many peo­ple. In­stead we hope this pro­gram will raise aware­ness with peo­ple about care­less­ness,” he told AFP.

Bangkok, like Yan­gon, is not ex­actly an ideal play­ground for Poke­mon play­ers.

The swel­ter­ing Thai cap­i­tal is no­to­ri­ous for its long traf­fic queues while the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion says Thai­land has the sec­ond-high­est road fatality rate in the world.

Pave­ments are patchy and those that ex­ist are often lit­tered with hur­dles rang­ing from street ven­dors and fire hy­drants to pot­holes and tan­gled wiring. (In Yan­gon, the wiring adds an elec­tric el­e­ment to stand­ing pud­dles dur­ing rainy sea­son. At least three peo­ple have died this year by elec­tro­cu­tion.)

But that hasn’t stopped hordes of play­ers em­brac­ing the game in pub­lic spa­ces, in­clud­ing those jump­ing into cars and onto mo­tor­bikes to hunt down dig­i­tal mon­sters.

Some of the city’s mo­tor­bike taxi driv­ers, who ca­reer through the gridlock at knuckle-whiten­ing speeds, are even offering hourly rates for Poke­mon hun­ters.

Two weeks ago the spokesper­son for Thai­land’s junta chief warned Thais against ob­ses­sive play­ing of the game.

“Thai walk­ing cul­ture is not like Ja­pan and there are lim­ited pave­ments,” the spokesper­son added.

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