Sitthichai Pokai-udom (Thai: สิทธิชัย โภไคยอุดม, born 10 November 1948) was appointed Information and Communications Technology Minister of Thailand in 2006 by a military junta. He founded the Mahanakorn University of Technology in 1990, and was Rector of that institute. From 1990 to 1998, he was Visiting Professor at the University of London's Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. From 1984 to 1986, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Communications Authority of Thailand (now CAT Telecom). He is married to Pornpan Mahattananon Pookaiyaudom and has 1 son and 2 daughters. He is the son of a wealthy Shanghainese general, C.L. Shin, who fought for Chiang Kai-shek and left China for Thailand in 1948. He changed his name at the age of 10.
Sitthichai finished highschool from Saint John's School in Bangkok. Sitthichai received the Colombo Plan scholarship and studied at the University of New South Wales, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in 1972. He graduated with a PhD in Solid State Electronics from the University of New South Wales in 1975.
King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang
From 1976 to 1990, Sitthichai taught at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL). He was the head of the Electronics Engineering Department from 1978 to 1982, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Engineering from 1982 to 1984, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering from 1984 to 1988, and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Study from 1988 to 1990.
During his time at KMITL, Sitthichai developed a rice moisture monitor based on electrical capacitance. At the time, General Surayud Chulanont was in charge of the Army's rice promotion project, and the two men met. General Surayud had Sitthichai's device mass-produced and rice mills and markets were forced to buy it. Surayud's Minister of Science and Technology, Yongyuth Yutthawong, later noted that "[the device] never worked. It was like the taxis and hats. Ever taxi driver was ordered to buy a hat, but they never wore it. The government forced everyone to buy these machines and they lay unused at the rice mills because nobody educated them about the system."
Mahanakorn University of Technology
Open source software
A military junta headed by Generals Sonthi Boonratkalin and Surayud Chulanont overthrew the elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra on 19 September 2006. Surayud appointed Sitthichai, who he had previously known while working for the Army's rice project, as Minister of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
ICT Minister Sitthichai became a vocal critic of open source software. In an interview, he noted, "With open source, there is no intellectual property. Anyone can use it and all your ideas become public domain. If nobody can make money from it, there will be no development and open source software quickly becomes outdated... As a programmer, if I can write good code, why should I give it away? Thailand can do good source code without open source."
Sitthichai was a vocal opponent of foreign technology. In a speech at the Comworld 2007 fair at Siam Paragon shopping center, he said that it was wrong of Thai people to admire modern technology which was not developed by Thai people. "It is a fake development because the country is now getting worse as almost everything at the exhibition here is imported and nothing is made by Thais," he said.
Sitthichai invented the meter used in Bangkok taxis. Also has developed, a euthanasia device that pumps carbon monoxide into a room.
Sitthichai ordered the Thailand wide internet ban of popular video sharing site YouTube.com on Apr 4, 2007. The reason for the ban was stated to be a distasteful video of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Sitthichai is an avid collector of firearms. He regularly carries a .45 caliber pistol whenever he goes outside.
- THE GOVERNMENT TECHNOCRAT
- Biography from ICT Ministry website
- Bangkok Post, A scientific mind, 9 May 2007
- Sitthichai Pokai-udom's Resume
- Bangkok Post, U-Turn at ICT Ministry, 15 November 2006
- Bangkok Post, Minister cool on IT, 21 February 2007
- IHT, Meet the eccentric Thai minister who banned YouTube, 11 June 2007
- New York Times, Meet the eccentric Thai minister who banned YouTube, 11 June 2007