April Fools’ Day in November

11 11 2011

PPT opened the newspapers and read the various blogs today and wondered if it was April Fools’ Day. Truly, some of the media has stories today that could easily be an April Fools’ Day prankster’s hoax.

The Bangkok Post had a gem to begin the list. It reports that “Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, an MP and leader of the Matuphum Party” has filed an urgent motion “seeking the establishment of a House committee for national reconciliation…”. As the story notes, General Sonthi is “the former army chief who led a military coup that toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra government on Sept 19, 2009.” Given that the post is 3 years out on the date of the last military coup, perhaps it is a prank to think that the general who sent the tanks out is seeking “reconciliation.”

A second set of stories has Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra both resigning.

The Nation has the Democrat denying plans to force Sukhumbhand to resign over the flood woes. The party adds that “there was no justification to pin blame the Bangkok inundation on Sukhumbhand. Over at the Bangkok Post, the rumor that Prime Minister Yingluck is about to step down or be forced out is again run. It is said that this is to “show of responsibility for failing to resolve the flood crisis.”

The story is again denied. The Post adds in a Bangkok University survey that shows an approval rating for the government of 48%. Thankfully, Bangkok Pundit has some adult commentary on this survey. BP points out that Yingluck, struggling with the largest natural disaster in 50 years, has an approval rating just slightly below that of Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva when he was premier in late 2010. Interestingly, she ranks higher than Abhisit on “decisiveness” and the Bangkok Post conveniently forgets to mention that the 48% ranking is higher than that received by Abhisit in December 2010. And we say it again, Yingluck is struggling with the largest natural disaster in 50 years.

The same Bangkok Post story gets further into ripping yarns when it quotes Payap University’s Paul Chambers who guesses that Thaksin Shinawatra has been “quiet” on the floods because he is “lying low.” Chambers says “Thaksin has generally remained more silent than expected…”. We assume more quiet that Chambers expected. But think about this claim. If Thaksin had been vocal, he would have been criticized and Yingluck deemed a puppet. Claiming he is too quiet is remarkably silly and intellectually dubious.

The Nation has criticism of Yingluck for not attending “the world class Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in Hawaii this weekend…”. That’s right, for not attending. Why? This is the suggestion: “It was not a good idea for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to cancel her plans to attend … as she is effectively losing a chance to put Thailand in its rightful place at the international forum.”

Well, no. Her deputy and commerce minister Kittirat Na Ranong is scheduled to attend, so Thailand does not lose its “rightful place.” But think of the outcry if she went! She’d be accused of abandoning the country and the flood victims. Going to the meeting could be political suicide.

In another story at the Bangkok Post – there seem to be a rash of them – it states that the Democrat Party, led by Abhisit, has been highly critical of the Puea Thai government’s budget which includes 120 billion baht for compensating flood victims and post-flood reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Abhisit criticised the allocation because it “lacked details and possibly failed to guarantee transparency.” He also reportedly “disagreed with the government’s plan to raise 120 billion baht for flood compensation by cutting funding from other projects.” Abhisit was especially critical of “populist policies.” Of course, these are the policies that helped get the government elected and most are likely to be stimulatory for the economy next year.

But then Abhisit seemed to get lost. He criticized “corporate tax cuts” as populist and then worried that the government would increase taxes from “business operators, particularly small and medium ones, who are already suffering in the floods…”. So what is it that he wants? It seems he wants anything but the government’s election pledges and plans to rebuild after the largest natural disaster in 50 years.

The Bangkok Post has another classic nonsense story that criticizes the government for having “appointed a committee to formulate strategies to rehabilitate and rebuild the country for the future headed by former deputy prime minister and respected economist Virabongsa Ramangura” and another committee that “will draw up water resources management strategies to deal with flood problems…”.

Why is this criticized when just a day or so ago the Post complained that “This [flood] disaster has shown that inexperience in working and dealing with the bureaucracy and the politicians, as well as the differing and conflicting views of experts, academics and advisers, has resulted in missteps by the prime minister.” Now it criticizes her for “having to rely heavily on technocrats to restore its [the government’s] bruised credibility as it faces waning popularity after clearly failing to cope with the flood crisis.”

On the same story, the seemingly amnesiac editorial scribes at the Bangkok Post have this: “Cabinet’s appointment on Tuesday of three respected outsiders to help plan a systematic, long-term strategy to manage water resources and prevent a repetition of the current crisis, is indeed welcome news.” Whereas the previous article claimed it was all a political set-up, the editorial names appointees it considers “the country’s top experts in their … fields.”

The Bangkok Post is beginning to look rather scrappy and unprofessional in its work at present. But never mind that for it never forgets to genuflect and look to the heavens. In a remarkable statement, the Post seems to dismiss the need for these committees or experts with a royalist rant: “Dr Sumet [Tantivejkul] is expected to highlight His Majesty’s ideas on water resources management. Thus far, the King’s ideas and advice have been ignored all along by successive governments. Sixteen years ago His Majesty warned that we had wrongly allowed factories and industrial estates to be built in natural water catchment areas and in areas regarded as a natural flood path. He suggested that floodways be constructed to facilitate the flow of water runoffs. Today, we have all seen the consequences of ignoring His Majesty’s sound advice. Will the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pay heed?” It seems that the only thing worth doing is to watch the endless re-runs on television of the king lording it over bureaucrats and others with his homespun advice.

The Post even resurrects the sufficiency economy nonsense with a claim by the allegedly “highly respected Professor Rapee Sagrik” that “the countless footpath stalls in Bangkok run mostly by rural folk, and the fact that the majority of taxi drivers are from the Northeast” should “not have had to leave their homes and farms…”.

This is yet another call for a Bangkok cleansed of those buggers who do all the work and then vote for Thaksin. And the Post concludes with a prayer for the repatriation of rural types to their proper place, outside Bangkok: “We only pray this crisis washes away egregious GDP-driven strategies and clichéd concepts such as ‘New Thailand’. Getting the country back on its feet would be sufficient unto the day.”

Finally, in a story that appears to only be in the “In Brief” section of the printed Bangkok Post on 10 November, if it was needed, a reminder that opportunism remains standard for academics. Chulalongkorn University labor economist Narong Phetprasert is planning to sue the government for “mismanagement of the floods.” He is cited: “I’m not a water expert. But as an upcountry native, I know that when water runs off, it will overflow river banks and nothing will stop it.” If he knows that, how can he sue the government?

Nothing can stop an academic for hire from running off at the mouth. Narong is seldom short of a verbal and occupational position; this is the same labor economist who opposed the Puea Thai Party’s plan to raise wages by 40%…. He previously worked for both the Thai Rak Thai Party before opposing it and was said to be working with the military junta. He was later appointed to Abhisit’s “national reform” committees.

It has been one hell of an April 1st in November.


The water seeps on

7 11 2011

Because Bangkok and the Central region are so flat, the flood waters are ever so slowly seeping through the city and the water level behind it is declining rather slowly. MCOT News reports that the floodwater is spreading into “inner” Bangkok as far as Saphan Khwai on Phaholyothin Road. The water is moving toward the Din Daeng intersection.

Now that most people seem resigned to the inevitability of at least some water in the inner city, it is interesting to see the media that were so keen to have the city “protected” at the expense of the outlying areas are suddenly becoming “champions” of those who are flooded – an example is the early morning anti-Yingluck Shinawatra news team at Channel 3.

Some are even asking questions of the “hero” they participated in creating, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra. They are doing this in a “gentle” way – see the example of this editorial in the Bangkok Post.

Prime Minister Yingluck has been bearing a huge load, in the media spotlight, trying to bring Sukhumbhand on board while allowing him to maintain face. The yellow-shirted social media have been in full campaign mode and she is repeatedly criticized by some in the mainstream media for a “lack of leadership.”

As PPT stated a month ago, Yingluck and her government are going to bear the brunt of all criticism, fair and unfair. The real measures of the government will be how the people in the red shirt heartland – some of them deep under water – view things.

Will they believe that a 50 or 100 year flood is an unfair measure of any government? Will they attribute blame to dam water releases or to failures of previous governments? Will they blame Yingluck or Sukhumbhand for the terrible state of Bangkok’s drains, canals, water gates and for a lack of investment in maintenance and in basic infrastructure?

Politicizing a national disaster I

27 10 2011

Pavin Chachavalpongpun seems to have a ready comment on just about everything happening in Thailand. In this article in The Nation, however, he seems to have something substantive to say and that deserves some attention.

Pavin begins with the rather nasty and personalized emails and social media posts about Yingluck Shinawatra that have been doing the rounds

Such a stupid bitch, she is!

As dim as a buffalo! She’s a bimbo, a brainless Barbie doll. The first female prime minister – who has brought all this bad luck upon the country!

This is what Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is now called and labelled by her upper-class critics….

Yingluck is about to drown in the political floods. This is no longer just an issue of natural disaster. It has become a ferocious political game.

Interestingly, this language of dullness and stupidity is exactly the same language that was used to describe red shirts protesters in 2009 and 2010 and was the dominant discourse about rural voters within the yellow shirt movement. It seems that only rich, aristocratic Thais are intelligent.

Pavin comments that the “discourse of ‘stupidity’ is being used … to discredit her [Yingluck] and belittle her endeavours to find solutions to the problem.”

He defends her, noting that no previous leader has solved the flooding problem and that while she has been “weak” in her leadership, there are plenty of others who deserve blame.

PPT is not convinced Yingluck has been “weak.” What we see is a 50 or 100 year flood that began months ago, testing a brand new administration with a civil and military bureaucracy that is both politicized and has probably made some significant errors in managing this year’s water flows and long-term failures of water management (Readers might look at the report of an official assessment of failures of water management in 2005-09 by previous governments).

What we also see is an elite not just determined to cut Yingluck down but as petrified by this year’s flood as they were when red shirts descended on the capital in 2009 and 2010 and their expression of this is not much different. Their media have worked hard to blame the enemy for the hopelessness of their own model of development and politics.

We didn’t see too much criticism of Abhisit Vejjajiva last year when floods hit rural areas and people were under water in some places for a considerable time. That much smaller flood didn’t impact Bangkok.

Pavin observes:

Rumours, lies and false statements regarding the flood situation have been found on social networking sites. A picture of Yingluck, taken before the July election, which shows her taking a photo from her hand-phone on a helicopter, has been circulated on Facebook, with captions such as: “The nation is in crisis but this bitch is having a good time.” Another picture of a Yingluck lookalike partying and drinking whisky from a bottle was also shared in cyberspace.

News of His Majesty the King mentioning that if the floods approach Bangkok, then let the water pass and do not block the Chitralada Palace, was found to be bogus*. A photo of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, taken in 2010, offering bags of commodities, was also intentionally released to mislead some Thais.

*It seems that the king has now said pretty much this, if Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha is believed.

In an earlier post of a Le Monde article on Thailand’s “water coup,” we saw suggestions of a broad political campaign. Pavin sees it too:

Could this be a part of a coordinated attack against Yingluck with the aim of destroying confidence in the government? Certainly, the opposition Democrat Party has been busy contesting the legitimacy of the Yingluck regime. Its leader, former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, absurdly suggested the declaration of an emergency decree to fight the floods. Through this, the military would be granted full authority to operate in almost any way it likes…. Yet, Abhisit did not elaborate on whether the military could handle the problem better than the Yingluck government.

Abhisit has also worked closely with MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Bangkok governor, to compete, not cooperate, with the government. While many brand Yingluck as stupid, Sukhumbhand showed his superstitious faith in a Khmer ritual of “chasing water” in his search for a solution to the threat of floods in the city. He was intensely protective about his turf.

Meanwhile, footage of the military going into affected areas to aid flood victims is impressive. But the military, like the Bangkok governor, has functioned almost independently from the government. There is clearly a sense of competition between the government and its rivals. Some of the fiercest critics of the government have called for Yingluck to resign. Yingluck’s supporters interpret such competition and the pressure to remove her from power as part of a plot to stage a “water coup”.

Like so many others, Pavin sees this political competition as reflective of:

a deeply fragmented society in which political ideologies have overshadowed public responsibility and the urgency for national survival. It is no longer a country where its members are willing to forge ahead and leave their differences behind. Eliminating political adversaries, at the expense of a national catastrophe, is seemingly acceptable today.

And it is Bangkok that is again the “symbol of contentious politics…. [and the] great disparity between the people residing in the rural and urban areas. For PPT, a major problem is that the “intelligent” life that is clustered in Bangkok simply doesn’t recognize the rest of the country except in terms of the right of the “intelligent” – the rich – to lord it over the rest, to exploit them and even to submerge them in order to keep the expensive cars and gaudy mansions dry. The inability to acknowledge a national interest beyond the protection of the elite is breathtaking.

As a footnote to this story, it is interesting to see the comments of Robert Horn – we assume not the one who writes for TIME on Thailand – who takes up the yellow-shirted complaints of red shirts monopolizing the aid action and of politicians taking credit (something they have always done and we have seen the Democrat Party doing it too). He says the evidence is available of this and refers readers to… Suthichai Yoon’s blog…. There readers find “evidence” that Thaksin is involved. That is, one photo of a truck with a sign saying the assistance it is bringing is from Thaksin (well, is it?) and another photo of a guy in a red shirt with Thaksin on it. What truly remarkable evidence…. but of what?

Updated: La Thaïlande à la merci d’un «coup d’État aquatique»

27 10 2011

Update: available in Thai/ไทย here.

Le Figaro has a story on the “aquatic coup,” and a reader sent us this translation. No one at PPT is a fluent French speaker, so we are reliant on readers to correct any problems with the translation. Still, we think the gist of it is clear:

The head of the government is no longer obeyed. The country, submerged by the waters, could entrust her fate to the army.

In the monstrous floods that ravaged the country since July, the army could again determine the political course of the kingdom. Before the vagaries of Yingluck Shinawatra government response to the disaster, the opposition demanded the declaration of a state of emergency, which would give all authority to the Army. After the “virtuous coup” of 2006, supposed to deliver Thailand of a tyrannical and corrupt Prime Minister [Thaksin Shinawatra], then the “half-coup” of 2010 to maintain in power the Democrat Party of Abhisit Vejjajiva, an aquatic version of the coup is played out today. The opponents of the Prime Minister are using the flood – which has killed 350 people and paralyzed much of the economy – for political purposes. They prevent a coordinated response from the government and undermine its credibility, says the entourage of Yingluck Shinawatra.

If the government has been slow to take measures against the flood and left ministers to give conflicting information – when they were not missing the point – it must also contend with interference of Surayud Chulanont, an adviser of the king. The Prime Minister was almost obliged to follow advice by the palace, as grotesque as they are: about a thousand of boats went up the Chao Phraya River, which winds through Bangkok, hoping to push the water to the sea with their engines …

Waters interfere in Bangkok

Above all, the Yingluck government is struggling with the army and the governor of Bangkok that operate independently. “Listen only to me. I will tell you when to evacuate,” does not hesitate to repeat the Governor Sukhumband Paribatra, a pillar of the opposition. Thailand has refused U.S. aid Tuesday under pressure from the army, which does not want them to put them nose in them affairs. Finally, the head of government is not obeyed, “I gave the order to open the locks of Bangkok. I was told that it was done, but when we checked, it was far from being the case,” she explained recently to illustrate the difficulty of having control over all the flooding

Hypothesis recurrent

But the floods have also revived the battle that marks the divide between the country’s elite and the rural and urban poor who have recently elected the youngest of the Shinawatra clan. “They don’t do anymore neighborhoods in the Thai political arena [sic.]. The only goal is to eliminate the opponents, even at the expense of national interests,” says the political analyst Pavin Chachavalpongpun.

In a country that has experienced 18 coups – and dozens of others missed – in sixty years, the return of the military is a recurring event. Community radio stations of the “red shirts” knows it: they denounce already a “conspiracy of the elite” and a “dirty revenge against the ballot.”

With 3 updates: Bangkok will flood

26 10 2011

Finally, the Yingluck Shinawatra government and Sukhumbhand Paribatra city administration agree: Bangkok is likely to flood over the weekend. The water has been creeping in, and with high tides, it seems that nothing can save the city from the mass of water flowing south. The Bangkok Post has a report worth reading, with some interesting photos and the following graphic that indicates the potential nature of the flooding in the city:

From the Bangkok Post

Update 1: Readers may also be interested in this view of the historical development of cities in flood zones in Asia.

Update 2: FROC has now stated:

Bangkokians should now accept the reality that all Bangkok areas will be inundated, Gen Pracha Promnok, director of the Flood Relief Operation Centre said Wednesday.

This is because there is so much floodwater in the northern area of Bangkok that the Bangkok authorities and Irrigation Department cannot drain it in time, he said.

“Therefore, Bangkokians should adjust themselves and accept the reality that all parts of Bangkok will be under water. The degree of flooding will depend on the landscape of each area,” Pracha said.

Update 3: Simon Roughneen has an on-the-gound account and some good photography of Bangkok’s riverside flooding.

Keeping palaces dry

24 10 2011

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has a princely heritage and as well as vowing to keep water out of the king’s current lodgings at Siriraj Hospital, at the riverside in Thonburi, the Bangkok Post reports:

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will put its utmost effort into protecting the royal palaces from flooding, Bangkok Governor Sukhumphand Paribatra said on Monday.

The BMA will take measures to ensure that the palaces will not be flooded, he said, even though the water is likely to inundate the districts of Don Mueang, Lasksi, Bang Khen, Chatuchak, Bang Sue and Sai Mai.

Keeping hospitals dry in an emergency makes good sense. As for palaces, again we have to wonder if this isn’t another case where royalism trumps good sense, planning and the public good.

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.”

Missing water in Samut Prakarn

22 10 2011

It seems that Samut Prakan, the last area before flood water flows to the sea,still hasn’t seen much water. As The Nation reports it, a “committee tasked with diverting water to the sea has asked the government to open watergates to drain water from the upper area of Bangkok to the sea via Samut Prakan province’s canals.”

The chair of that committee claims: “All canals in Samut Prakan have been ready to receive flood water drainage from Bangkok for almost three weeks – but now there is little volume of water being discharged from Bangkok’s watergates…”. The report claims that the “level in Samut Prakan province’s canals is 2043 centimetres below normal as the local administration has drained a lot of water to the sea already.” [PPT: We are always wary of figures in these reports as reporters tend to mix up numbers and units of measurement; still, “below normal” seems clear.]

The committee claims they are ready to drain 40 million cubic meters per day of water to the sea. That water would be “drained from Nong Chok, San Sab, Prawet, Lat Krabang, Jor Ra Keh Yai, Sam Rong Water, and Suvarnabhumi watergates.” The chair states: “We are waiting for Bangkok to open its gates…”.

He added: “We need to drain water via Bangkok to help people living in upper areas such as Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani who have been living with floods for a month…”.

There does seem to be a continuing fight over the control of Bangkok’s watergates, although Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra claimed (and reported on 21 October) that all gates were opened.

Updated: Bangkok and the flood

21 10 2011

At the Bangkok Post:

Somsak Soonthornrawaphat, an expert from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said it seemed that the government was facing difficulties in making Bangkok’s governor follow its flood management plan.

“It looks like Mr Sukhumbhand has absolute control over Bangkok’s flood control. But, the more state authorities try to save the capital, the more people are suffering from the flood,” he said.

There’s more on Sukhumbhand here.

Update: Bangkok Pundit has more on the competition between the Democrat Party Governor and the national government on floods. Curiously, BP concludes with this: “… Sukhumbhand … has in BP’s view performed better than FROC, the government’s flood war room, in public announcements by doing most, if not all, of them personally. He is not a great public speaker, but sombre is a better look in such a situation than excitable as Plodprasob was last week.” We wonder if the people up to their necks in water outside Bangkok island have the same view?

Updated: Where does the water go now?

20 10 2011

It has slowly dawned on many that this flood is a really big one, comparable to the largest in 1942 and 1995, with now more than 320 dead and more than 9 million people impacted to date (and with flooding just getting underway in some parts of the northeast).

Some sites have been posting data on and water. These from New Mandala and its readers: rainfall data and cumulative dam discharges. The Thai Meteorological Office has data on total rain to date in 2011 and for the month.

Yingluck in the floods

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is reported at the BBC as saying that it will be “impossible to protect all of the capital from flooding because of a build-up of water to the north.” Yingluck, calling the flooding a “national crisis,” said “sluice gates would be opened to allow a controlled release of water through parts of Bangkok.” At The Irish Times, the government is said to have “warned residents living near Prapa canal, which runs from northern Bangkok to an area of the city near Victory Monument along an elevated train line, to be vigilant against floodwaters.” It cites Pracha, head of the national flood center: “If we can’t pump water out on time, there is a chance Bangkok may be swamped.”

Pracha and his center has been heavily criticized. Yingluck said on Wednesday that the Flood Relief Operations Centre “accepts all criticism…”.

Central Bangkok has been protected by flood barriers which troops and many others have reinforced, but the water flow seems just too great and the impact outside the barriers is made far worse by blocking the flow of the water to the sea. As AP puts it: “Authorities had been making desperate attempts to keep floodgates closed and boost barriers along waterways carrying a deluge of water downstream from the north. The evident result was massive flooding inundating homes and factories in areas north of the city.”

In the BBC report, Yingluck “said that every way of slowing the water entering the city had been tried.” She admitted that: “We cannot block the water forever…. We need areas that water can be drained through so water can flow out to the sea.” A report states that “Bangkok has an extensive drainage system including 200 floodgates, 158 pump stations, seven giant underground tunnels and 1 682 canals covering 2 604km.”

Sukhumbhand (Bangkok Post photo)

The AP report also notes that “The capital’s governor confirmed Thursday that the gates had been opened.” Up until now, Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, a “hero” to some,  has refused to accept that Bangkok would or could be flooded, has claimed control over city canals, and has said his responsibility is only to Bangkok: “Asked if the refusal to open the inner canals would affect the water level in Khlong Rangsit, MR Sukhumbhand said Khlong Rangsit was not his responsibility but the government’s.”

A Press Association report states that Yingluck confirmed that “the amount of water still flowing down from the north was many times that which was flowing out to the sea.” She said: “There’s no way to drain out water because we are blocking it…. Sometimes blocking the water caused the barriers to deteriorate, because we didn’t design them to act as dams. Today we have exhausted every resource we have to slow down the water, be they damming or water retention areas.”

Thankfully, Sukhumbhand’s tune has changed and he has now “said the city had opened water gates at every spot, including canals in inner Bangkok, to quickly push the run-off to the sea.”

Yingluck: Bangkok to share the crisis

At Bloomberg it is observed that the probability of floods in Bangkok sent “stocks and the baht lower as the government struggles to control a deluge that has inundated thousands of factories.” Ominously, the report adds:

It will take about 40 days for the 12 billion cubic meters of water, enough to cover Connecticut a meter deep, to drain into the Gulf of Thailand, Irrigation Department spokesman Boonsanong Suchatpong said yesterday. The floods have swamped industrial estates north of the capital with as much as three meters of water.

Update: A reader points out that PPT should have mentioned Bangkok Pundit’s very logical questions and posts on data – and we agree. Here they are: here, here, here and here. BP’s latest post is also important, pointing out that the Bangkok Post’s accusations (PPT: and plenty of others, especially in the unsocial media) that the government has not just mangling some aspects of the flood PR, but has been deliberately lying is not supported by any factual reporting. Ironic isn’t it….

Meanwhile, the waters creep, seep and build in Bangkok. The Nation’s breaking news: 9:01 Rescue effort in Bang Buathong /7:01 Pathum Thani irrigation chief.. /6:02 Yingluck tells Bangkokians not to.. /6:08 Bhumibhol Dam opens sluice gate to..

Bangkok Post’s breaking news: 11:12 PM Nonthaburi asks for motorised boats / 10:48 PM Froc: Warning for Lak Si, Don Mueang /10:38 PM Yingluck thanks Sai Mai volunteers /10:18 PM Pramote: Bangkok can fight /10:03 PM Bang Kadi abandoned to fate /09:26 PM Rangsit-Pathum Thani Rd innundated /09:03 PM Khlong Prapa overflowing banks

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