Pokemon no-go in Thailand

08 Aug 2016

Thailand’s Culture Minister has warned people against playing Pokemon Go, especially in religious and historic sites while the Tourism and Sports ministry is seeking to use the game to promote the very same.

Culture Minister Veera Rojpojanarat said Pokemon Go had many potential dangers and players should not spend too much time on it, spend too much money or put themselves in danger.

“As for entering Buddhist Monasteries or historic sites to catch the [Pokemon] dolls [sic], I know Thai people have the common sense to know what is proper and what it is not,” he said.

This is in contrast to the Tourism and Sports Ministry which has jumped on board the Pokemon Go bandwagon, though it does seem to lack knowledge on how the game works.

Last week, Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, announced that rare types of Pokemon would be placed at tourist destinations that the ministry wanted to promote.

He also said that Pokestops (in game places that give out items when within 40 meters) would be placed at famous tourist destinations to attract Gen-Y trainers/travellers.

Meanwhile the Election Commission of Thailand has warned Pokemon Trainers against attempting to catch Pokemon in polling stations as Thailand went to the polls yesterday in a referendum where they overwhelmingly approved a new military-entrenched constitution.

Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said it was illegal to enter polling stations to catch Pokemon. Again in a case of not knowing how the game mechanics work, Somchai said, “in occasions that rare Pokemons emerge in any polling station, please stop playing it near these stations.”

A trainer can attempt to catch a wild pokemon if it appears within a range of about 100m without having to actually go to the point where it appears on the map.

Elsewhere Islamic leaders in Kuala Lumpur said today that Muslims should avoid playing Pokemon Go because the popular mobile game was harmful and could "lead to gambling."

Mufti of Federal Territories Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri, in a statement on Friday (Aug 5) said that the ruling was made at the Federal Territories Islamic Legal Consultative Committee meeting on Aug 1.

"After studying the opinions of religious scholars and the fatwa (edict) issued, we agreed that the edict has a basis and that Pokemon Go and all the Pokemon characters should be avoided as it can bring harm.

"The game promoted a search for power and deities with certain powers which could lead to gambling," he said in a story on Channel News Asia.

Iran has also banned Pokemon Go, but on security grounds.

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