With 4 updates: Abhisit on flood relief

4 11 2010

Regular readers will know that PPT has been critical of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his government and their inept response to Thailand’s huge flooding emergency (see here, here, here and here). Criticism is now widespread.

The Bangkok Post reports that Abhisit has now been forced to defend himself and the government. As has become his pattern, Abhisit dissembles.

He has “hit back at criticism that he lacks the leadership to deal with the devastating floods…”. The Post suggests that his response has something to do with “Television footage [that] has shown the private sector going to great lengths to help with the rescue and relief efforts. Some observers have gone as far as to say television news anchor Sorayuth Suthassanachinda’s involvement seems to have far eclipsed that of the prime minister.”

Abhisit manages to dismiss criticism of the government as not being criticism at all but “only expressions of concern about the deluge.” Further, he “insisted the government had done its best…”. He then listed a string of things he will not do, like establish a relief or disaster strategy. He asserts: “I don’t think I need to declare a strategy. Those who are working know the drill…”.

From The Nation

That non-strategy seems to mean that it is okay for the government to only begin providing relief funds today – of a meager 5,000 baht per family affected – some 25 days after the crisis began.

Meanwhile, in the south, it is private organizations that are doing most of the relief and rescue work. The army is said to have dispatched teams but seem to be not getting much press coverage….

From The Nation: seeking food

To be honest, the government and its agencies have failed. It is not as if they are incapable – the response to the 2004 tsunami was quick and pretty comprehensive. It seems that this government has other, more important, priorities. These include stamping out red shirt activism and enforcing lese majeste.

Update 1: The army is now getting more coverage, especially on television, but still the government’s efforts appear thin and underfunded. Disputes amongst some victims have been reported and there appears to have been some looting in the south as people seek food supplies. The SMH says that there are now 122 dead.

Update 2: So strong has been the criticism that the state’s propaganda arm, the National News Bureau of Thailand of the Public Relations Department, has come out with a special statement on the government’s wondrous efforts on the flooding. The headline, though, is open to interpretation: “Thai Govt works at its best, undertaking the worst flood effects.” Even PPT wouldn’t go so far as to blame the government for undertakings that amount to the worst effects. But maybe it gets close. The poorly composed propaganda statement barely conceals the government’s failures, concluding: “The Government has been working days and nights to help out victims and minimize the impact of the floods which have wreaked havoc on the country in the past few weeks. Everyone needs to continue to perform his/her duty and help others. Thailand will soon be back on tracks if we all do what is expected of us.”

That sounds like “Abhisitism”: everything is okay when everyone knows their place. So stop criticizing him for not wanting to get his hair out of place by appearing to do something meaningful!

Update 3: The National Disaster Warning Centre has admitted that “it could have done more to help avert the disasters in many parts of the country over recent weeks. Centre chief Somsak Khaosuwan yesterday said the agency “could have been more effective” with its warnings had it been given sufficient budget and manpower.” That sounds like a criticism of the government. Somsak’s days as chief are probably numbered.

Update 4: AFP states that more than 140 are now dead and: “Fifty of Thailand’s 76 provinces have been affected by the floods but the high waters have subsided in 20 of these, officials said. Bangkok has been on standby but has so far avoided major flooding.” PPT wonders what the victims think about the protection of Bangkok.



One response

6 11 2010
Royals and Abhisit on floods « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is widely reported. It seems that both Abhisit and the king need some positive publicity following Abhisit’s tardy, seemingly unconcerned and incompetent response and the royal family’s apparently mean […]

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