Bangkok Post

The government’s Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) on Wednesday conceded that it really could not say if the Victory Monument area and Rama 2 Road would be inundated by the flood.
Photo by Patipat Janthong

Responding to growing public anxiety, the Froc director, Justice Minister Pracha Promnok, said it was very difficult to evaluate the flood situation because the water was moving underground through the city’s sewers.

The Victory Monument area is regarded as the heart of the capital, and Rama 2 Road is the main and last remaining dry route to the South from Bangkok.

It was impossible to control the floodwater flowing into the underground sewers and that was worrying, Pol Gen Pracha said.

The best the Froc could do was pin its hopes on the water drainage system of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), which was in full operation to drain the flood out of the capital through its eastern areas.

Pol Gen Pracha said the flood command centre was working with the BMA’s Department of Drainage and Sewerage and as far as he was concerned, the draining of the water was satisfactory in all spots.

He rejected comments by academics that the “big bag” flood barriers were capable of blocking the floodwaters for a week at the most. Big bags are huge clumped, bags weighing about 2.5 tonnes each.

The minister said he could assure the public that the barriers could hold back the water for one more month at least.

Flood prevention workers had already laid the big bags of sand as a first 18km long flood barrier stretching from Khlong Prem Prachakorn southward. The wall cuts across Vibhavadi Rangsit Road through the northern boundary of Don Mueang airport.

The presence of the big bags has frustrated residents in the area because they feel it will only make things worse for them.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra (second right) explains flood situation to Flood Relief Operations Centre director Pracha Promnok (right) on Oct 15, 2011. (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)

The Froc director said he was confident that local officials would be able to explain to them why it was necessary.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the flood from the North has flowed on to parts of Rama 2 Road in Thon Buri district.

MR Sukhumbhand said BMA officials have been working around the clock to combat the massive northern runoff, which has already inundating several districts in the western part of the capital.

The BMA will also offer jobs paying 300 baht a day to people to collect uncollected garbage in 18 flooded districts. The job offer would be open for 30 days, he said.

The city governor declared more areas in Khannayao district flood evacuation zones.

They are the areas of Sois 6, 21, 23 and 31 in Ram-Intra subdistrict and Kanchanaphisek, Ram-Intra and Serithai roads in Khannayao sub-district.

Lat Phrao subdistrict in Lat Phrao district, Min Buri and Bang Kapi areas were declared a special watch area.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department reported that a total of 529 people were now confirmed dead and two people were missing in the great flood.

Two more people were confirmed dead yesterday in central province of Phichit.

Today, flooding still prevailed in 24 of the 77 provinces and was affecting about 2.8 million people from 1.1 million households.

Since mid-July the floods have affected about 3.3 million households and about 11.3 million people in 64 of 77 provinces, the department said.

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Private sector's supports

This compilation shows the latest efforts by private companies in addressing flood impacts. Contact achara_d@nationgroup.com.

Beverages for flood victims
Aje Group is boosting capacity of its beverage plants, to cope with rising demand in Thailand.

Hernan Cordova, managing director of Aje Thai Co Ltd – its local unit, said that so far the company has donated beverages worth over Bt2.1 million to flood victims, aside from “Ceilo” drinking water worth over Bt10 million which is distributed through 7 relief centres.

“We hereby extend condolences to Thais in light of the historical floods and goods shortages. In this unfortunate event, Thais help each others and this should be shown to the world. In recognition of Thai hospitality, Aje Thai is giving our beverages to ease the suffering.

Hopefully, the situation will wind up and return to normal soon,” Cordova said.

Goods Fair

Bangkok Bank, in partnership with more than 30 manufacturing customers and business alliances, is hosting an ‘Emergency Shopping Fair’ to sell essential consumer goods at factory prices. Taking place at its headoffice on Silom Road on Nov 11 from 8am to 5pm, the fair features bottled drinking water, soy milk, eggs, salted eggs, chilli paste, canned sardines in tomato sauce, rice, instant noodles, processed and frozen foods, sausages, snacks, cooking oil, kitchenware, plastic buckets, waterproof pants, life vests, sleeping bags, sandals, medical supplies, garbage bags, calcium dioxide, alum, torches and lighters. House renovation advisors will also be on hand at the fair.

Similar events are planned at Bangkok Bank branches to provide convenience and relief to customers and people having difficulty buying essential consumer products during the floods.

Free car auctions

Union Auction Co Ltd will host second-hand car auctions during Nov 15-Dec 31 specially for flood victims. Upon registration for the participation, the car owners will get Bt7,000 from the company and the owners will be waived from operating cost. They will also get a full sum reaped from the auction.

Ekpithaya Iamkhong-ek, president of the company, said that the CSR campaign is open for all types of cars, including those with financial obligations.

“This is part of our CSR campaigns, to help the affected. Normally, we charge both buyers and sellers for the operating cost, but we’ll give the sellers all the operating cost of Bt7,000 collected from buyers,” he said.

He added that all parties should lend a hand when the country suffers from a natural disaster which affects a large number of people. The interested can contact Union Auction at Tel             0-2934-7344       or get more information from www.union-auction.com.

Early bonus payment at Tesco Lotus

Tesco Lotus is paying bonus this month to staff members in level 1 and 2, who represent nearly 95 per cent of its work force. The payment is normally made in December.

HR Director Siriphan Thongtheppairot said that during the flooding crisis, the staff have shown real commitment and dedication to serving customers and getting essential products to them. “I’m delighted that we are able to make this early payment as a way of saying thank you to them for their continued hard work. We hope that this early payment will also go some way to ensuring that these staff members have a speedy improvement and recovery to their personal situation.”

A number of Tesco Lotus have also been personally impacted by the flooding. The company has so far provided nearly Bt28 million wroth of financial aid, 7,000 relief bags, as well as food, temporary accommodation and transportation where needed, worth nearly Bt6.5 million.

Latest help from TMB

TMB Bank provided 15,000 food boxes and clothes to soldiers worth about Bt1.5 million, on top of Bt500,000 cash. To assisted affected soldiers, the bank will also waive principal and interest repayments for three months.

Fujitsu offers free server rental

Fujitsu System Business (Thailand) Ltd will waive rental server fees on flood-affected customers for two months from October, to help customers who are rebuilding business after the floods.

Masaki Kajiyama, president of the Thai unit, said that the program is a collaboration between Fujitsu Business System (Thailand) and Fujitsu Technology Solutions.

UMS in Ayutthaya

Unique Mining Services Plc’s volunteer staff recently visited the flood-damaged community in Tamboon Klong-sa-gae, Ayutthaya province, to donate relief bags to the flood victims. These bags included dried foods, rice, drinking water and other essential items.

UMS is committed to being helpful to community and encouraging all of their employees to participate in social and community activities.

Free SIM to soldiers

Total Access Communication (Dtac) recently handed 500 pre-paid SIM cards worth Bt250,000 to soldiers, who are assisting the rescue and relief efforts in the Greater Bangkok.


Tapwater production meets WHO standard

The World Health Organisation on Wednesday said the water production of the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA) meet the WHO’s standard.

WHO representative David Sutherland said “the water production is in line with the World Health Organisation [WHO] standard.

He was speaking after inspecting MWA’s Bang Khen plant together with other agencies including PM Yingluck Shinawatra. The visit was made to assure the public that tap water in the flood-hit capital is still safe for consumption.

Japanese Ambassador to Thailand Seiji Kojima and the Japanese media also joined the visit..

MWA governor Jarern Passara said his agency had already solved quality problems, and the tap water was now safe to drink.

Yingluck said, “I have come here in person because I want assurances for the public that tap water is still safe. But if you have time, boil or filter before drinking it because that will improve its colour and smell.”

With flooding worsening in the capital during the last few weeks, angry flood victims have destroyed barriers along the waterworks (Prapa) canal, in the hope of using the canal to direct floodwater out of their areas.

Their actions affected tapwater production, as the raw water for production dropped in quality.


Budget not responding to flood crisis: Abhisit

The 2012 Budget Bill has failed to reflect flood-related problems and neglected to factor in the post-flooding circumstances, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday.

“The government has made distorted assumptions about flood impacts when making budgetary allocations,” he said, leading the opposition’s critique of the planned spending.

Abhisit said he understood that allocations had been prepared in the midst of the flood crisis and while facing time constraints.

“The opposition parties want to see a speedy disbursement of the budget to help flood victims,” he said.

He said he had four points about the budgetary allocations.

Firstly, the spending plans are not compatible with the economic situation, particularly the projection for revenues in the face of flood damage.

Secondly, the government presents no clear plans on how to overcome the crisis.

Thirdly, the government fails to rearrange spending priorities despite the urgency for post-flooding reconstruction. Unnecessary populist policies, such as the first-car scheme, still received funding.

Fourthly, the government has earmarked Bt120 billion in the central budget without giving any specifics on how recovery efforts would be carried out for flood victims.

The Democrat Party leader called for the government to reassess the economic situation in order to brace for the budget deficit, which he expects to increase beyond the projected Bt400 billion.

He said the government should review its spending priorities in order to free up funds for post-flooding reconstruction.

He also said that during the 45-day vetting of the spending plans, the government should try to supply more details about recovery efforts, hence ensuring transparency.


Nearly Bt200bn set for rehab and rebuild

The Yingluck government is allocating nearly Bt200 billion of the 2012 budget to address short-term challenges arising from floods and drought as well as to strengthen the macro-economic strengths.

Of total, Bt45.3 billion is allocated to ease the impacts of floods and drought. This fund will be partly used to support the artificial rain-making, expand the irrigation area by 302,000 rai, and manage the existing 24 million-rai irrigation area.

Another Bt120 billion is also set aside for flood impact rehabilitation and prevention. This amount will be used for the repair and construction of infrastructure as well as relief measures.

A budget of Bt20 billion is allocated to stabilise the fiscal position, Bt33 billion to boost agricultural product and competitiveness, Bt8.68 billion to boost the food manufacturing sector, Bt6.9 billion to promote trade and investment, and Bt89.3 billion for infrastructure. Highlighted in the draft budget are the development of five ports, wave barriers, high-speed trains to link Bangkok with Phitsanulok, Nakhon Ratchasim and Hua Hin, and the Yellow electric train line from Lat Phrao to Samrong.

Of total, Bt270 million is allocated for creative economy promotion, Bt2.69 billion for tourism, and Bt2.69 billion for IT.

The draft budget, which is under parliamentary discussion during Nov 9-10, sets the expenditure at Bt2.38 trillion, Bt210 billion or 9.7 per cent above last year’s level. Of total, Bt1.855 trillion is for fixed expenditure, Bt423.39 billion for investment, Bt46.85 billion for principal repayment, and Bt53.9 billion to replenish the fiscal reserves.

The central budget, pending for the government’s allocation, reaches Bt420.6 billion or 17.7 per cent of total budget. Of this amount, Bt120 billion rehabilitation budget is included.

Bhum Jai Thai Party leader Chavarat Charnvirakul urged the government to focus largely on flood rehabilitation measures and avoid all “luxury” projects.

“All the Bt400 billion investment budget should be allocated to help flood victims. I believe that people in the Northeast, North, and South will accept that infrastructure development could be a bit delayed. The government should also come up with a special budget, to explain in detail the sources of fund for damaged infrastructure repairs,” Chavarat said.

Pichet Phanvichartkul, an MP of the opposition party, Democrat, noted that the government’s revenue would be hard hit by the inundation of industrial estates. This will be exacerbated by a cut in corporate income tax rates next year, which should cut the revenue by nearly Bt130 billion.

He lamented that despite the scenario, the government follows the normal track in setting the budget and in following through its election promises.


The Nation November 9, 2011 11:15 am
The government will take prompt action in preventing a repeat of the catastrophic flooding, Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said on Wednesday.

“The only way to restore investors’ confidence is to act instead of talking,” he said.

Kittiratt said the two strategic committees tasked with preventing future flooding would convene in the next few days.

The two – the Strategic Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development (SCRF) and the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM) – will closely work together to overcome the flooding, he said.

The SCRF is headed by Virabongsa Ramangkura, he said, adding that the SCWRM is led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who will delegate him to chair the meeting on her behalf.

In order to improve water management, the SCWRM will involve foreign consultants, particularly those from Japan and the Netherlands, he said.

The government is expected to finance the overhaul of water management by either issuing treasury bonds or borrowing from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, he said.


Rakhapura

Stop Rohingya petition page (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-rohingya-invasion-into-burma/) has gone now. When people tried to sign the petition, they are redirected back to the main page of the petition website.

Even though the petition is still accessible through the search tool of thepetitionsite.com, it is inactive now. This petition has been running on the same URL since last year but it has received about 200 signatures during a year’s long period. However, the petition suddenly became popular among Myanmar people when BBC published an inaccurate map of Burma in which one of Myanmar’s major ethnic, Rakhine was replaced with so-called Rohingya or Bangladeshi Muslim people.

The people belonging to the country’s 135 genuine ethnic groups who are living inside and outside of Myanmar signed the petition during last week and the total signatures collected as of last Saturday night was almost reaching twenty thousand before it is miraculously disappeared. Activists suspect that BBC has done something to stop the petition by cooperating with the petition hosting company, Care2.com. BBC is still keeping silence without responding to the peoples’ demand for apology for BBC’s wrong, misleading information about Myanmar ethnic people.