Artificial Intelligence, e-Governance and Access to Information in Thailand and the Mekong Region: A public online event

Artificial Intelligence, e-Governance and Access to Information in Thailand and the Mekong Region: A public online event

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and e-Governance can play important roles in improving access to information in our digital world. Digital transformation of government services can help bridge the digital divide, by providing citizens with tailor-made and readily accessible information. They can enhance transparency and accessibility. They can ensure the more efficient delivery of public services, as citizens can access public sector information and services nearly instantly. 

AI-driven digital transformation of public services can also, however, raise questions about fundamental rights and the ethical use of AI and e-Governance. 

The Asia-Pacific countries of Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam are notably characterized by high levels of internal income inequality. These central ‘Mekong’ countries share a similar pattern of rapid economic development with ever-increasing economic and social inequality. Most recently, the inequality gap has been growing even wider due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic1.    

The digital divide, if fueled by social and economic inequalities, can also exacerbate other inequalities by creating further barriers to good governance implementation, including the right to access information. The digital divide can, however, be narrowed by implementing e-Governance initiatives that incorporate the development of applications and online content that enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration. 

Thailand passed its own Official Information Act as far back as 1997, and the Thai government is currently pushing toward an open e-government, having recently approved the Thailand National AI Strategy and Action Plan in July of this year2. While Viet Nam enacted, after two years of development, its own ATI law in 2018, Cambodia has yet to adopt a comparable ATI law currently under consideration, its final review process having been delayed from an initial plan to introduce it roughly a year ago.  

Throughout the different stages implied by any country’s official adoption and implementation of ATI law, civil society in each of these countries notably share the common experience of having to continually strive and argue for more openness and transparency of public information.  

To celebrate this year’s International Day for Universal Access to Information, UNESCO, in partnership with the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, is organizing an online public event for a multi-stakeholder discussion on the state of access to information, open e-government, and related regulations on AI Ethics in Thailand. The event will feature a session for experience-sharing from civil society and other rights holders in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, and address how open and accessible public information help create civic space, accountability, and public participation. 

The online event will contribute to enhancing the capacity of both duty bearers and rights holders to monitor and advocate for progress towards access to information, which is recognized as a target in Sustainable Development Goal 16.10.

Points of discussion will include: 
-    An updated status of Thailand’s access to information and AI Ethics laws and their implementation, particularly in the promotion of inclusive participatory democracy and information as a public good;
-    Experience-sharing from Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam on how civil society and other rights holders strive for accountable public entities through open and transparent access to public information;
-    Building on international standards and experiences from neighboring countries on 
open e-government and AI regulations, examine the lessons learnt for Cambodia, Thailand, and Viet Nam to improve and implement access to information laws. 

PROGRAMME
Date: 28 September 2022
Time: 14.00 – 17.00 (Bangkok; GMT+ 7)
Format: Online public discussion
Languages: English and Thai
Registration link: https://forms.gle/dgTP9V8PsJJ8vqab9

Speakers of the event

IDUAI 2022 Provisional Agenda

Times

Items

Speakers

14.00 –14.15

Opening remarks
 

 

H.E. Mr Remco van Wijngaarden, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos  

Ms Salaithip Charubhumi, Vice Dean of Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University 

Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director, UNESCO Bangkok

14.15 – 14.30

 

Keynote: World trends report on Access to Information implementation and lessons learnt

Mr Joe Hironaka, Advisor, Communication and Information Unit, UNESCO Bangkok

14.30 – 15.15

Showcase: Striving for more accountable public entities through Access to Information – experience sharing from Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Myanmar

Cambodia – Enhancing the Quality of Public Service Delivery through Access to Information


Viet Nam – Improving Information Disclosure to Ensure People’s Right to Access Land Information

Thailand – Using technology and open data to empower people to reclaim an active role in political

Moderator: Ms Thitirat Thipsamritkul, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University, Thailand

 

Mr Him Khortieth, Research & Advocacy Manager, The Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA)

Ms Ngo Thi Thu Ha, Director, The Center for Education Promotion and Empowerment of Women (CEPEW)

Ms Thanisara Ruangdej, Founder, WeViIS (We visualize Data for Democracy)

15.15 – 16.30

Panel discussion: Thailand - building an accountable and inclusive public service through open e-government.

Moderator: Ms Pijitra Suppasawatgul, Director of Thai Media Policy, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University

Dr Supot Tiarawut, President & CEO, The Digital Government Development Agency (DGA)

Assoc Prof Dr Bhumindr Butr-Indr, Committee of AI research Integrity, The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA)

Mr Natthaphong Ruengpanyawut, Member of Parliament, Move Forward Party

Mr Pongpiphat Banchanont, Senior Editor, The Matter

Ms Pawana Rurkrai, Director of Policy and Analysis Division, Office of the Official Information Commission (OIC)

16.30 – 16.50

UNESCO:  Closing remarks

Mr Joe Hironaka, Advisor, Communication and Information Unit, UNESCO Bangkok 

Event
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