The Bangkok governor, Mr. Sukhumbhand, has tried to seize the moral high ground, asserting that he has no political ambitions and only wants to protect his constituents.
“Please listen to me and me alone,” he said last Thursday. “I will say when we should evacuate. Please believe me and only me. Don’t believe others.”
Mr. Sukhumbhand is a member of the opposition Democrat party, and his latest spat with the central government involves what he called 800,000 paper bags that the government provided in answer to his request for sandbags.
“I don’t know how strong these bags are,” he said. “Once I saw these paper bags I was in shock.” If the government was too preoccupied elsewhere to help, he said, he would make do with his own sandbags.
In response, a spokesman for the central government’s Flood Relief Operation Command Center said the bags weren’t made of paper, but rather of plastic film mixed with paper, good enough for sandbags.
BP: Puea Thai released a photo of the letter from the donator stating that the bags were suitable for use as sand bags and from this photo indicates they are from Thai Styrenics Co. Ltd, which from a Google search you can see is a subsidiary of PTT. One hopes that Sukhumbhand had advice that the bags were not suitable instead of making an assessment and he has not responded since then. May it not have been better to check with FROC – the government flood ‘war room’ – first on where the bags came from and for details to confirm that they are suitable before declaring they are not and the government is too preoccupied to help? Puea Thai could also have been less defensive and provided the information to Sukhumbhand privately. It is not a good look for either* to have such a public fight.
However, over the last day or so, things between the Yingluck government and the Bangkok Governor have improved: New York Times:
“Today we’ve exhausted every resource we have to slow down the water, including damming or water retention areas,” Ms. Yingluck said.
And so, she said, “I’ve decided to ask Bangkok to open all gates, which could trigger an overflow, in order to drain water into the sea as soon as possible. Floodwaters are coming from every direction and we can’t control them because it’s a huge amount of water. We will try to warn people.”
Bangkok’s Gov. Sukhumbhand Paribatra ordered authorities to open the city’s floodgates to help drain water into the sea, saying the water passing through canals in the city will be under control.
The governor’s move, which means draining out water through canals in the inner parts of the city, might lead to flooding if there are leakages, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration said on its website.
BP: Around the same time, Sukhumbhand tweeted that “Now, the BMA and the government are working together very closely” (ตอนนี้กทม.กับรัฐบาลทำงานร่วมกันได้อย่างใกล้ชิด). How long will this last given the flood waters are now on Bangkok?
* Particularly for Sukhumbhand who 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.