• Journalists covering news at Government House on Phitsanulok Road play Pokemon Go yesterday while they wait for a press conference and interviews.

Jitters over Pokemon Go ‘invasion’ of Thailand

national August 09, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

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THE LITTLE monsters in the world-renowned Pokemon Go game literally invaded Thailand’s Government House, the country’s top seat of power, and so many other places nationwide



Prayut has urged authorities to adopt preventive measures against some undesirable consequences of the wildly-popular augmented-reality game.
At Government House, reporters yesterday managed to catch a few Pokemons at several locations, including the Thai Koo Fah Building and the Command Building, since there had been no preventative measure against GPS-assisted location features inside the compound.
Uttama Savanayana, the Information and Communication Technology Minister, said the premier had instructed the ministry to closely monitor the situation as many Thais, especially youngsters, had downloaded the game over the past several days. So far, there have been no untoward incidents in Thailand but the public should learn that the game is a combination of physical and digital realities, he said, adding that players therefor need to follow appropriate protocols while entering certain places and respect other people’s rights.
Safety is another concern after police reported an incident in which suspected troublemakers used the lure module feature on the game to trick players into travelling to a remote place on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Uttama urged the public to read details of the game’s agreement before downloading the Pokemon Go app, while he said parents should advise children aged under 13 about the game before allowing them to play.
The ministry is working with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and other agencies to come up with measures to manage and prevent potential negative consequences associated with Pokemon Go, he said.
Police Colonel Supiranat Sattathanachaipat, a deputy metropolitan police chief, said Bangkok’s Bang Khunthien Police Station had been informed of a suspicious “Poke Stop” (a place where Pokemon can be located) in its jurisdiction on Sunday night near Ekachai Road. There, unscrupulous Pokemon players had released a lure module to attract players, he said.
Once police arrived at the scene, a group up to eight adults ran away as they were understood to be waiting for unsuspecting Pokemon players to catch monsters in the remote area. 
According to the Pokemon app, players can purchase a lure module for between Bt25 and Bt30 at a time online and to draw the attention of other players.
Police were tipped off by a teenager, who said a few teenagers had gone to the Poke Stop but had found the place surrounded by several suspicious-looking people.
As a result, players are advised not to venture into places where their safety could be compromised, especially when seeing a lure module symbolised by the pink Sakura flower.
For online marketing purposes, this feature is used by businesses such as restaurants and coffee houses to attract customers wanting to catch Pokemons in their businesses. The lure module is effective for about 30 minutes after a purchase is made.
Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn urged the public to refrain from playing the game inside hospitals and nearby compounds.