Hello? Hello? Disconnected

The “6 Days, 63 Million Opinions” programme got off to an inauspicious start yesterday when a sudden influx of phone calls caused a telephone exchange at Government House to shut down.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva opened the "6 Days, 63 Million Opinions" call-in project himself but the phone lines overloaded and went dead without a call completed.

The overload took place during a live broadcast of the campaign launch while Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva himself was answering calls.

Mr Abhisit took two calls but the line failed before he could ask for the callers’ personal information.

A third call ended as soon as he picked up the phone.

The overload caused speculation of a possible attempt to disrupt the prime minister’s programme. Mr Abhisit’s weekly talk programmes have been disrupted before.

TOT Plc senior executive vice-president Apisak Narkawith, who oversees the metropolitan telephone network, said the failure resulted from a technical problem when so many people called in simultaneously. TOT installed a reserve exchange and brought it back to normal half an hour later.

Mr Apisak said TOT installed about 300 telephone lines at Government House for the programme.

It began installing the exchanges at 9pm on Wednesday and finished about six hours later. No problem arose during the testing stage.

Mr Abhisit joined several members of his cabinet and government officials in answering phone calls.

The call-in programme, open from 8am to 8pm from July 1 to July 6, invites ideas from the public on how to reform Thailand.

Mr Abhisit said the National Statistical Office will gather people’s views and send them to the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board and the reform panels set up by the government.

PM’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said economic problems and complaints topped the calls on the first day, in which 2,000 calls were received.

Several callers rang to extend support for the reconciliation scheme.

Mr Sathit said the campaign is not a gimmick to create reconciliation. The government needs public input.

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij might take some calls today, Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation tomorrow, Mr Abhisit again on Sunday morning, and Education Minister Chinnaworn Boonyakiat that evening. The opinions will be added to a blueprint on national reform and published during the New Year Festival.

People can call on 02-304-9999; write to 9999 Government House, Dusit, Bangkok 10300; or send an email to . Most of the calls were made from the Northeast and South.

News item courtesy of www.bangkokpost.com

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