As most of you are aware I guess, Thailand is under water – or at least a big part of it. This natural disaster is not just a human catastrophe with more than 340 people left dead, but also an economic disaster. Thailand has been the top exporter of rice for several decades now, it’s an important member of the supply chain of several industries, e.g. IT, cars and other goods and services, and of course Thailand as a tourist destination has suffered yet another setback. The media coverage in Europe is drawing quite some horrible picture of the country of smiles these days so travelers are scared of actually going on their vacation. It is devastating of course but it’s not hopeless.
My sources of information tell me a little different story so far. Yes, the old capital city Ayutthaya and big parts of the North are severely flooded and yes the floods are also threatening big parts of Bangkok, but as far as I’ve heard and read it Bangkok is still safe to go. The old part of the city, where tourist attractions like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and others are situated are already inundated but not as bad as the other parts of Thailand. The South of Thailand, where the islands and beaches are, is so far untouched and unthreatened by floods, hence going there is not an issue at all.
Still, Thai people are in need of help and therefore if you happen to have some coins left to spare please do so. Christmas is coming around so it’s high season for donations anyway 😉 You’ll find the details here to do so. I suggest the Thai Red Cross Society as the best organization to donate to.
Some extraordinary examples of solidarity are the countries of Japan and Bangladesh. Japan, still trying to overcome the natural disaster that struck the country at the beginning of this year, offered it’s Thai staff to work in Japan until the flood situation is under control and things will be back to normal (http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/263843/a-good-example-to-follow ; http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2011/10/28/tokyo-temporarily-takes-in-thai-workers/ ). Bangladesh, itself one of the poorest countries in the world and also struck by several disasters recently, immediately offered and gave financial aid to Thailand to deal with the disaster. (http://www.nationmultimedia.com/breakingnews/Bangladesh-to-provide-USD1-million-aid-to-Thailand-30168698.html). These two countries are role models and other countries should follow this example.
The economic implication and the results in money terms are pretty well described here in this article. Failures by former and the current government to foresee the threat of natural disasters and the actual disaster management have played an important role in the development of this catastrophe. There is no single person to be blamed. The current PM is just in the unlucky situation that the crisis happened during her time of service. Her policies and her stamina to deal with the disaster is questionable though and I guess her performance will be broadly discussed in the Thai political scene longer than the water will inundate the country. Some discussions have already started. Have a read here: “Ms. Yingluck, to her credit, has done her job well. She has been seen everywhere,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. “But the government also knew about the imminent floods two months ago and did little to prevent it. This is a leadership crisis.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204479504576637970215290718.html?mod=fox_australian
“They miscalculated the water levels and did not discharge water from the dams early enough in the rainy season,” he said. “The dams are almost full now, so they discharge the water at the same time, and all the discharge water comes down to the low-lying areas.”
“The weather hasn’t changed that much,” he said. “We always have more water in the rainy season. But if we don’t have integrated water management, we will face this problem again next year.”
This is a video that tries to explain why it came so far. It is in Thai language with English subtitles – as most of you might not be able to understand Thai (like me) just listen to the sound of this beautiful language and read the subtitles 😉
This was a rather short post. The next one, I’ll write about a humanitairn congress I went to one week ago – I’ll try to give you an update on what’s going on in this field. To take a look on what’s going on besides the floods, have a look here: