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Bangkok governor takes the blame for flash floods

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Bangkok governor takes the blame for flash floods
The Nation/ Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Fuming from the public and social media griping over the flash flood that paralysed much of the capital on Tuesday, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday confessed to failing to take precautionary measures like draining the sewers.

“I admit to the mistake, but heavy rain on this scale was beyond imagination,” Gov Sukhumbhand told a press conference at City Hall.

From now on the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) would be fully prepared to deal with off-season rain using other measures.

Thundershowers in the afternoon inundated many business districts such as Rama IX, Sukhumvit and Asoke. Rainwater in some areas of Huai Khwang district was supposed to be quickly removed through BMA’s expensive set of giant subterranean tunnels.

Spending hours in traffic jams got commuters angry and they posted blistering attacks against the governor on social networks.

“You can blame me for not warning about the flood, for not being able to save a flooded supermarket, but do not criticise BMA officials.

“Although we miscalculated the situation, we were able to fix it promptly. And if all these are mistakes, I admit it, but no one can make it rain hard or little.

“And no one can guarantee that the heavy flooding will never be repeated, after rain had surged exceedingly,” he said.

A reporter’s question on whether the same flooding scenario could be expected left Sukhumbhand exasperated.

“I am not an angle who can predict that. I would be willing to answer that if I were one.”

In a lengthy defence of the administration, he said Bangkok was a water city, a rainy city.

Prayut blew a fuse

“It’s not possible for there to be no flood-risk spots in the capital. You need to live on a hill to be worry-free about flooding.”

The BMA cannot conduct flood-prevention measures or clear waterways in many privately-owned areas.

The private sector was asked to cooperate with the BMA in performing anti-flood operations, while the public was asked not to worry about flooding.

The BMA had collaborated on the problem with the government and would continue doing so for the long run.

“In the coming wet season, the BMA will work closely with the government,” he added.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha blew a fuse over the flash flood, saying he had warned two weeks ago that a tropical storm was coming that would bring heavy rainfall.

He said he would find out which agencies would be held responsible.

He was also checking with the BMA to determine why the drainage had not gone smoothly, noting that it was the culture of government agencies to perform their duties passively.

The National Council for Peace and Order will look at the issue as a whole to see how to prevent flooding completely in the future.

Residents in the North should watch out for rain and floods in the next few days when the tropical storm moves in their direction, he added.

Gov Sukhumbhand’s spokesman Wasan Meewong asked the public and cyber citizens to consume news about flooding and causes of flooding rationally, not emotionally.

“Flood photos are posted and distributed widely during inundations, but not post-flood photos,” he said.

The drainage capacity in the capital was 60 millimeters per hour. Any downpour beyond that would trigger a flash flood.

“To solve the problem drastically, underground sewer pipes need to be replaced with larger sizes,” he added.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Man arrested for growing 108 cannabis plants in Samut Prakan

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested for growing 108 cannabis plants in Samut Prakan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77kaoded

Police arrested an Argentinian man for growing cannabis at his house in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok. 35 year old Sagas Nur told police he planned to produce cannabis oil.

Medical marijuana is legalised – with limitations – while recreational marijuana is still classified as a category 5 narcotic. Sagas is facing charges of producing a category 5 narcotic. He could face 2 to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 1,500,000 baht.

Police were tipped off about Sagas’ alleged growing operation. They searched the house and say they found 108 cannabis plants that were about 1.5 metre high. Sagas allegedly told police he bought the seeds online with the intention to grow plants and then produce cannabis oil.

Thailand legalised medical marijuana in 2018, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. Recreational marijuana trafficking and operations continue to be busted by police while the government studies medical marijuana with plans to tap into the global market. The Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul even helped plant cannabis seedlings at a government-run facility with 1,300 plants.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | South China Morning Post

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Protests

Opposition MPs petition for Bangkok State of Emergency to be lifted

Maya Taylor

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Opposition MPs petition for Bangkok State of Emergency to be lifted | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.nandy0140.com

A group of opposition MPs and other activists will today petition to have the emergency decree currently in force in Bangkok revoked. Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha imposed the state of emergency last Thursday morning, in the wake of escalating political unrest in the capital. Now a number of Pheu Thai MPs and other opponents of the State of Emergency are calling on the Civil Court to retract it.

Last weeks declaration was “rubber stamped” the next day by an emergency meeting of the Thai cabinet.

One of those petitioning for the state of emergency to be rescinded, is the President of the Lawyers’ Association of Thailand, Narinphong Jinaphak. He says enforcement of the decree is illegal and that there is nothing to justify it, pointing out that political rallies have been peaceful, and protesters have acted within the confines of the law. He also points out that the Thai Constitution guarantees citizens the right to assemble.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that Cholnan Srikaew, Pheu Thai MP for the northern province of Nan, has described the PM’s announcement of the State of Emergency in the early hours of last Thursday as illegitimate. He adds that should the court decide the state of emergency is unlawful, the group may sue the government for having declared it.

The group is also petitioning for an interim injunction, to prevent authorities from using the emergency decree against protesters, while the court considers whether to revoke it altogether.

Meanwhile, national police chief, Suwat Jangyodsuk, says officers are still under orders to avoid the use of force when dealing with protesters, in order to protect them and the general public. He denies that water cannons used to disperse a protest in Bangkok on Friday contained chemical substances known to cause irritation.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Visa

41 foreign tourists to arrive in Bangkok today on Special Tourist Visa after 7 month ban

Caitlin Ashworth

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41 foreign tourists to arrive in Bangkok today on Special Tourist Visa after 7 month ban | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Patrick Tomasso

Just 41 foreign tourists are expected to arrive in Bangkok today, a small, yet major step forward after a 7 month ban on international tourists which was put in place in late-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The visitors are said to be travelling on the new Special Tourist Visa, which allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months. But the tourists departing from Shanghai, China and arriving in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport this evening will only be in Thailand for 30 days, and that includes a 14 day quarantine, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says.

Plans under the new scheme have been sketchy to say the least and reports have been conflicting. Reports circulated about a group of about 120 to 150 tourists under the new visa scheduled to arrive in Phuket earlier this month from Guangzhou, China. The flight was delayed. A few days later, a spokesperson from the Foreign Ministry announced no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and TAT just passed off a list of those “interested” in the scheme rather than those who were ready to fly.

Things seem a bit sketchy again. The flight arriving today was at first going to have 120 to 150 tourists, but now it’s down to 41, according to Pattaya News. Yuthasak did not say why only a limited number of tourists are arriving today, but says Bangkok’s ongoing protests are not a factor, adding that the tourists plan to travel to beaches outside the city once the mandatory quarantine period is over. He says 100 more Chinese tourists will arrive in Bangkok later this week.

Upon arrival, the tourists will be tested for Covid-19 and are required to register with a Covid-19 tracking application. They will then be transferred to certified quarantine accommodations to stay for the next 14 days.

“If the first batch of Chinese tourists is considered to be potentially successful, TAT might propose the idea of increasing more tourists to the CCSA (Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration) and the government.”

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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