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Bangkok Shutdown

Cautious reliance on social media needed while Bangkok paralysed,

Social media are destined to become the mainstay channel of communication during the "Bangkok shutdown", according to Frost & Sullivan.

"This year social-media websites and applications such as Facebook and Line have evolved from being either just a chat app or sharing tool to become major communication mega-platforms," Teera Kanokkanjanarat, senior analyst at the research firm, said yesterday.

People are ever more relying on these platforms to communicate and get updated on the latest news.

People should be aware of the power of social media. Relying on them does require caution, mainly the concerns of validity and authenticity of messages conveyed. "Social media are a powerful tool, not only as communication platform but also as a political tool. A news story shared by a trusted friend on a social network can have the level of intimacy that no other digital channel can achieve.

"Before buying in on the message, people must consider the validity of content, if it comes from legitimate original sources, and its implications. Regardless of the content, once people share a story on a social network, they also share a part of the responsibility for its consequences," he said.

However, Koh Eng Lok, country head, said the Bangkok shutdown would likely hurt Thailand's international reputation and standing. Tourism businesses will be badly hit, particularly during the "golden week" of the Chinese New Year at the end of January and early next month.

"Tourists from [places] celebrating the Lunar New Year like [mainland] China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia like to travel to various destinations in Thailand like Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Hua Hin.

"However, due to the unstable political situation this year, many of them may choose other destinations in Southeast Asia to usher in the Year of the Horse," he said.

If the political stalemate persists, inbound foreign direct investment may turn into a trickle. Overseas investors and local businesses are adopting a wait-and-see approach before making any significant moves.

"Generally, businesses have been in a business-continuity-planning mode for a few weeks to finalise their contingency plans in case the political situation spirals out of control," Koh said.


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