Here Comes the Rain Again

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised there’d be no severe flooding in Thailand this year. Well, the rains have barely started to fall, and already six areas in Ayutthaya province are flooded, and this is the centre of the city of Sukhothai yesterday.

Sukhothai flooded, September 2012
Image from Bangkok Post.

Plans to test the water drainage capacity in Bangkok were due to be held last week – water was to be released from dams upstream and passed through the city’s network of khlongs (canals). The test was called off because there was widespread flooding following a night of heavy rain.

This year was supposed to be different. Following last year’s devastating floods the government was supposed to have been focussed on flood prevention, and virtually unimaginable sums of taxpayer money have been forked out to that end.

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In a totally unrelated story, Police Colonel Dusadee Arayawuthi, is being transferred from the Public Accounts Anti-Corruption Commission, just as he was about to spill the beans on massive corruption in flood defence projects. The only reason given was that some unnamed phuyai (bigwig) wanted him transferred. He was also going to reveal large scale tax evasion in the grey market import of luxury foreign cars and widespread encroachment on national parks in two provinces by “influential figures and local politicians”. (The encroachers even had the gall to use illegal loans from a state bank to fund their acquisition of the parkland and then defaulted on the loans.)

In fact, he ordered his staff to investigate 595 flood prevention projects in the north east; checks revealed “irregularities” in every single project looked into.

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In another unrelated story, a recent study by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce has revealed that “tea money” accounts for the disappearance of 30-35% of all government land, building and equipment expenditure. Some reports, however, put the figure much higher.

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Yet another unrelated story, a survey earlier this month by Assumption University revealed that 66% of Thai people think that corruption is acceptable. (With people under 20 that figure is 78%, which bodes well for the future.) Even just under 60% of civil servants thought corruption acceptable if it helped them with job promotion, transfer to a better job location or personal profit.

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And a final unrelated story: of the flood defences for the seven industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces which were severely flooded last year, not a single set of defences has yet been completed.

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