Thailand is one of the leading countries in the world in the use of mobile communications. But it has a long way to go to catch up even with regional neighbours in tying together the millions of citizens, services and businesses. Successful use of available networks remains the exception when it should be the rule.
The recent plan announced by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to free Thais from the "middle-income trap" was extraordinary for reaching into the past for pedestrian programmes. It should have been a call to unleash imaginative solutions to drive Thailand upward, not slowly push it there. If Thailand were a novel or a movie, the perpetual inability of the government to harness either the reality or promise of available technology would be seen as a conspiracy designed to hold the country back.
The existing and constantly expanding internet and telecommunications systems are familiar to all. Children and grandparents, workers and bosses - almost every Thai - now use mobile phones and feel at home with a worldwide web browser. But if a person has to renew a national ID card, he or she must drive and trudge along to the amphur office, take a number, sit and stand in lines. It seems not to have occurred to the government to take appointments and relevant information by phone, email or website - cutting the lines, ending waiting times and providing digital information that does not require typing and re-typing.
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