Further updated: Sukhumbhand defiantly “protects” Bangkok

22 10 2011

It had been thought that Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra had agreed to open the city’s water gates to allow flood waters to drain through the city to the sea. However, The Nation reports that:

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday denied that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) had opened watergates fully to allow flood water to flow through the capital to the sea.

In response to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s move to use the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act 2007 and order for the BMA to open watergates so that flood water can be let through to the sea, Sukhumbhand said the government had not notified the BMA to open watergates 100 per cent but had let the agency exercise its own judgement.

It seems that the princely governor has other priorities:

The governor cancelled an appointment and went straight to Siriraj Hospital [where the king has been for months and months] when he was told that some leaks were found at the hospital and water had been retained in some spots.

In the Bangkok Post, Seree Supharatid, director of the Disaster Warning Centre at Rangsit University, commented on the failure/refusal to open the water gates:

… unless the BMA completely opens its inner sluice gates to relieve pressure along key outer canals, flooding could break out across the capital. Khlong Rangsit is simply unable to cope with the water coming into the city from Ayutthaya, he said.

“If the BMA does not open all the sluice gates, the water will simply overflow Khlong Rangsit, affecting Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Don Muang, Lak Si, Thung Song Hong all the way to Bang Khen,” he said. “To the east at Khlong Hok Wa, so long as the water cannot flow naturally, it may overwhelm the city flood barrier to flood Kaset-Nawamin, Rarm Intra and Lat Phrao.”

Dr Seree predicted widespread flooding within the next four to five days, as water from Nonthaburi’s Sai Noi and Bang Bua Thong districts race through Taling Chan on the Thon Buri side of the city.

Sukhumbhand appears to consider that island Bangkok is his fiefdom and the rest of the country can be hung out to dry (once the water recedes).

With yellow shirts and the Democrat Party baying for political blood, and much of the mainstream media also piling in, this is now  very much a political flood. They will see Sukhumbhand as their hero and will blame the hated Puea Thai government for whatever they do, good or bad. On the issues of justice in flooding, see Thitinan Pongsudhirak in The Guardian.

Thanks to a reader for this link to an interactive map on the flooding around Bangkok and the central plain.

Update 1 : Seemingly another brickbat for the self-styled flood hero Sukhumbhand in this report from BusinessWeek:

Now that the water gates have been opened, the pressure will be reduced,” Nirut Hongprasith, head of the Royal Thai Navy’s Hydrographic Department, said yesterday. “So if there are floods, they won’t be as severe as many people thought.”

… Residents shouldn’t panic, Nirut said. “Bangkok will definitely be safe. Now that water is flowing through water gates, the problem will ease and water will recede.”

Update 2: From the New York Times and recommended by a reader:

Ms. Yingluck, in office just two months, said the formal structure of the law, The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act, was needed because some officials had disobeyed her instructions, hampering overall flood control.

“For example, I ordered the opening of water gates and was told that all were open, but when we checked on the ground, it was a different story altogether,” she said. “So we will need to issue a written order to be sure everything is clear.”


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