Updated: No crying for the northeast

17 09 2019

The huge floods in the provinces “began last month, [with] 32 provinces — mostly in the North and Northeast — hav[ing] been hit by the flooding, affecting more than 418,000 families and killing 32 people. The impact in the northeast has been devastating. Khon Kaen was heavily flooded and Ubol looks like a lake. Some people have had to scramble onto their house roofs to avoid the surging waters.

Ubol. From the Straits Times

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan visited Khon Kaen on other business on 3 September and “inspect[ed] the flood situation…”.

Gen Prayuth has preferred cooking and visiting with political allies like Suthep Thaugsuban in the south. While he made a very brief visit to Ubol, he has seemed largely unconcerned. Back when he could make political capital from floods in 2011, he did so enthusiastically. Not now.

Almost a week ago, Ubol was under water, with Khaosod reporting that “[n]etizens are pouring their support to a northeastern province, more than half of whose area is under floodwaters.” It reports discontent:

“The flood is affecting us badly, but why the doesn’t the government help? Many houses are now submerged and Warin [Chamrap] District has been cut off from the city,” @kpkimmm tweeted on Thursday. “They sent everything they had to rescue the 13 Wild Boar, but no one cares about the whole of Ubon being immersed in water.”

Ubol governor Sarit Withoon “declared 17 districts as disaster zones and allocated 200,000 baht to each district for immediate disaster recovery operations…”. Seriously? 200,00 per district! Really?

The Bangkok Post reports that Gen Prayuth is “[s]tung by heavy criticism of its slow response to severe flooding in Ubon Ratchathani and other Northeast provinces…”. The response? The “government is stepping up efforts to help several thousand victims with a televised charity programme.”

It almost seems that the regime is punishing the northeast and its voters. The military-backed regime’s political constituency is centered on Bangkok.

Update: A Bangkok Post editorial criticizes Gen Prayuth:

As people in Ubon Ratchathani and other flood-ravaged provinces in the Northeast suffer and grieve, the least they can expect from the prime minister is sensitivity to their plight. They should also be able to anticipate adequate emergency relief measures from his administration.

But Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has failed them in both of those respects. Instead, the premier has been busy in the past few days defending himself and rebuking those who have criticised his government’s slow response.

Such knee-jerk leadership is a dismal response at a time when the government is facing credible accusations that its failure to remain vigilant and offer timely public warnings exacerbated the flood crisis….

Since Monday, the premier’s chief response appears to have taken the form of anger at his critics….

The core lesson of this calamity … is that people in the flood-ravaged areas need an efficient leader, not an angry, defensive old man.


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