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Plodprasop flames NDWC’s effectiveness

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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CAPE PANWA: Dr Plodprasop Surasawadee, assistant minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, today likened the status of Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) to that of an “abandoned toilet”.

His scathing remark was made at the opening of a three-day convention on coral reef research and management at the Phuket Aquarium.

As a former director of the NDWC, he said he would use his current position to lobby Cabinet for the NDWC to be an independent agency.

The NDWC, established by the Thaksin administration after the tsunami, was placed under the Thai Meteorological Department by the government of Surayud Chulanont.

That move has harmed the NDWC’s effectiveness to the extent that he compared the agency’s current status with that of an “abandoned toilet”.

Formerly, the NDWC could issue warnings independently, but now all alerts must first be approved by both the Meteorological Department and Prime Minister’s Office. The resulting delays could cost many lives if another disaster strikes suddenly, he said.

In mid-March, current NDWC director Dr Smith Dharmasaroja threatened to resign his position over the issue.

Dr Plodprasop said that the enormous death toll in Burma’s Irrawaddy Delta region [as a result of Cyclone Nargis] would have been much lower if Burma had a disaster warning center in place.

“I am worried that Thailand could face a situation like the tragedy in Myanmar under the current system,” he said.

The current tsunami early-warning system is also incomplete and ineffective, with just a single direct detection buoy too far from the Thai coast to give ample warning time, he said.

On the topics being discussed at the convention, Dr Plodprasop called for strict controls on diving at vulnerable reefs.

Although Thailand’s efforts to restore degraded reefs and build artificial ones are still in the early stages, they have so far been successful, Dr Plodprasop said.

Saying that Thailand’s coral reefs were deteriorating day by day, he also encouraged government officers to work hard at protecting these vital resources.

The convention at the Phuket Aquarium is being held by the Department of Marine and Coral Resources and its Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) as part of International Year of the Reef 2008 activities.

The topics of today’s seminars were: Technical methods used to survey coral reef ecosystems; Reef Ecology and Diversity; Oceanographic and climate change impact on reefs; Community-based coral reef management; and coral reef restoration.

Topics to be covered over the next two days include coral reef management strategies, coral reefs in crisis, and trends in coral-reef restoration techniques and academic research.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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