Friday, March 9th, 2012
Opinion & Analysis by Burin Kantabutra
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s repeated reassurances to Japanese investors that there will be no repeat of last year’s flood fiasco are but words in the wind, absent credible proof, for haven’t we all heard such reassurances that her government could handle the waters even as dike after dike broke? (Think FROC)
I note that the Thai Chamber of Commerce has just submitted a letter to the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking, saying that the dikes would do little more than create islands surrounded by floodwaters. The letter said it would be difficult to transport components to the sites and finished products from them, and workers might be unable to get to and from work.
Even PM Yingluck’s own Cabinet approved a natural catastrophe insurance fund this week, with a worst-case scenario of the government absorbing 2.29 trillion baht in damages if 2011’s floods reoccur. Who will pay that immense sum?
Look in the mirror, taxpayer. If private insurers were so confident of the government’s efforts, I suggest that premiums would have plummeted back to pre-flood levels, rendering PM Yingluck’s fund redundant. (Yet they didn’t.)
In 1996, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) developed an Integrated Plan for Flood Mitigation in the Chao Phraya River Basin for our government. It would have been far more credible for PM Yingluck to have shown the Japanese investors how she’d taken that JICA study, updated it, and was implementing the finished product. But she hasn’t done so because she can’t.
I don’t blame you, for not being prepared last year; your brother and the Democrats snored at the helm, too.
But I do blame you for not credibly building on what had already been done, either by JICA in 1996, or by the Crown Property Bureau in 2000, in proposing mitigation measures for water shortages, floods, and pollution in the Chao Phraya River Delta for time frames of 5-25 years, as you prepare for this year’s waters.
Instead of sweet words, PM Yingluck would do well to heed Confucius: “The superior man (woman) is modest in their speech, but exceeds in … actions.”
Editor’s Note: Now not only flood issues demand full implementation, but fire, terrorism and drought prevention are also in desperate need of attention. From Northern Thailand, to Bangkok’s massive sprawling skyscrapers, fires are becoming much more commonplace and hard to deal with as authorities struggle with the array of challenges to public safety and health.