BANGKOK — A proposal to force citizens to state their careers and salaries on their national ID cards will not go forward, the military government said today, days after it was proposed by junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Three days after Gen. Prayuth’s off-the-cuff proposal to improve information gathering was widely ridiculed on social media during the weekend, Minister of Interior Affairs Anupong Paochinda today put the kibosh on the idea.
“Let me insist that salaries and professions will not be included on the ID card or in the microchip,” Gen. Anupong Paochinda said today.
The plan was first floated by Prayuth during his Friday show. Without going into detail, the general stressed the need for the state to collect information about its citizens, such as careers and salaries.
“I want to stress that by 2017, we should make this successful: National ID cards that indicate careers and salaries,” he said in comments broadcast to the nation. “Don’t be shy. You don’t have to be shy. Low income or high income, we’re all Thais. I want the government to differentiate and find out how to spend funds appropriately, because our revenue is still low.”
The remark immediately sparked an outcry online by those who viewed the plan as intrusive and absurd.
“Why would we need to add that information? Does this government understand the phrase ‘rights infringement?’ You’re nuts!” wrote Facebook user Laksamol Guess in a comment. “Why would I want to put it in my card? You should just build a database and link it to the tax revenue system; just doing that will let you know how much each person is paid, and whether they have paid their taxes.”
Others took the idea to task not for its absurdity but impracticality.
“Some people change their jobs often. I think they would have to visit the district office again and again [to update the ID cards]. They would have to waste their time,” wrote another Facebook user named Venzor Solado.
Using the hastag #NewIDCard (#บัตรประชาชนแบบใหม่), a number of Tweets ridiculed Prayuth’s idea by creating a meme about how the “Salary ID Cards” would invite more discrimination against low-income earners.
A cartoon Tweeted Monday shows a woman rejecting a guy because his ID card shows a low salary.
A parody ID card belonging to a ‘hipster.’ Photo: Did Hipsters Kill Your Father? Facebook page / Facebook
Speaking to reporters today, Anupong said citizens will still have to share career and salary information for use in a national database.
“That information will be put into a database to find plans to assist those with low incomes. Let me insist that this is not a breach of privacy,” Gen. Anupong said.
He brushed off the satire on social media.
“As for the criticism and parody ID cards on social media, it’s their right to do so. It is because people didn’t understand us yet,” he said. “Now that they received correct information, I believe this issue will be over.”
Since coming to power in the May 2014 coup d’etat, Gen. Prayuth has often shocked the nation with surreal policy plans that sometimes seem spontaneous or ad-libbed. In September 2014, he suggested that a group of rubber farmers demanding price guarantees sell their goods “on Mars.”
More recently, the general announced at a parliament meeting he would “close down the country” if his mission of national reform was not fulfilled on time. The Thai stock market fell 9 percent after the remark, forcing Prayuth to clarify that he was only joking.
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