Flooding in Thailand causes Thaksin, Chalerm, Banharn and Sanan to disappear

Missing from the action: Thaksin, Chalerm, Banharn and Sanan – Bangkok Post, October 29, 2011
…So let’s get this straight. Thaksin is claiming that aid that says it is from him is not, in fact, from him. While aid which he says is from him, hasn’t yet arrived. Chalerm is saying he has ordered police to help, but police can’t help because they are not as well equipped as the army.
A couple of weeks ago, Banharn didn’t want to help, but now he wants the government’s help. And Sanan, well, the last time he was seen in public was a photo of him in Thai Rath newspaper when he attended a wedding on Oct 19.
I called the Chart Thai Pattana party headquarters to find him. They said they hadn’t seen him, and could I please call back on Tuesday?
How can there be so much criticism of the government when it’s clear that even the top guys–guys who just a few months ago were saying they could rescue Thailand from the brink–are making no excuses, working hard, working to the best of their abilities and, most of all, working together?

[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from just a few years ago, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Missing from the action: Thaksin, Chalerm, Banharn and Sanan

The flooding has now reached as far as Don Mueang, Charoen Krung and even Sukhumvit. Many Bangkokians have either moved into hotels or temporary shelters. Those with the means have fled the capital, mostly to Hua Hin and Pattaya.

Those who remain continue to work and panic, or work and not panic, depending on who you talk to. Regardless, everyone is confused.

Even Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra seems confused. There is a Youtube clip that shows her tripping over her words. Instead of saying that she had been “inspecting a giant tunnel for flushing out water”, she says: “I have just been to a tunnel that flushes out giant water.” That was just one of many mistakes. In fact there are Thai subtitles on the video. Perhaps she was confused?

Please don’t take these comments as a slight against PM Yingluck. I appreciate the tough job she is doing. And tripping over words is not a big deal. There isn’t a prime minister or president in the world that could resolve this situation and please everyone.

So she only has two options. Stay and do the best that she can, knowing that when it is over so might her career be. Or step down and let somebody else take the blame.

So far she has chosen to soldier on, left to fend for herself as those who pushed her to power are looking the other way. For that I commend her.

But while Ms Yingluck has been at the receiving end of much criticism, what has everyone else been doing? There are more than a few people that the public should know about.

Let’s start with big brother Thaksin. Online there has been much speculation over a recent video clip. Taken at the Flood Relief Operations Command’s Don Mueang headquarters, it shows volunteers preparing relief aid and packing it into the back of a truck. The camera filming the scene then pans across to a sign on the side of the truck which reads, “Relief aid sent with love and great concern from Thaksin Shinawatra.”

Of course the army of Thaksin-haters are disgusted by this. “How can he take credit for this!”

“That food was donated by the public!”

“He is Satan, I don’t like his square face!”

However, Thaksin’s legal adviser Noppadon Pattama says it is not Thaksin’s policy to put his name or picture on flood relief bags and trucks. Mr Noppadon said it might have been the work of some of Thaksin’s supporters. He added that relief supplies from Froc should not be connected to any one politician.

While he may or may not have intentionally taken the credit for a few packets of Mama and bottled water, Thaksin will certainly be taking credit for the water pumps that he has ordered from South Korea.

On Tuesday the INN news agency quoted Kwanchai Priaphana, the chairman of Udon Thani Loving Club, as saying that Thaksin had ordered many pumps and they should be delivered to Thailand by Wednesday.

According to the Department of Drainage and Sewage under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, they haven’t received any pumps yet, and weren’t expecting any. Froc doesn’t know anything either. Maybe the pumps went somewhere else?

Former prime minister Thaksin isn’t the only big name that has been missing from the news headlines. Last week I commented on the usually outspoken Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung’s absence. But it seems he has indeed been busy working.

Chalerm has been getting tough on crime, ordering newly appointed police chief Pol Gen Priewpan Damapong to dispatch police to safeguard the properties and ensure the safety of residents in flooded areas. While his plan seems to be working as there haven’t been any reports of crime, there has been some criticism that there are no reports of crime because there are no police around.

Chalerm’s response to this non-presence (on the flood scene) was that there were other people more suited to helping. “The army has more potential [to handle floods] than the police. The police’s main duties are crimes suppression, investigation and general public services. We have to admit that the army has more equipment, manpower, and experts than the police.”

And what of Banharn Silpa-archa, the man some have blamed for the severity of the flooding in Bangkok? The de-facto leader of the coalition member Chart Thai Pattana and “owner” of Suphan Buri (or Banharn Buri as it is sometimes referred to) has been mysteriously quiet ever since he took flak for not opening his flood gates in order to keep Suphan dry.

Well, Suphan is now flooded and on Oct 23 Channel 3 news reported that Banharn was asking for 1.2 billion baht from the government to help protect business areas in his province. Obviously this hasn’t been approved yet, but it’s good to see that Banharn is now willing to work with the government.

Finally, there’s Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart. Last we heard he was in his hometown of Phichit. While there he gave out relief bags to flood victims and suggested that investors invest in Phichit’s Northern Industrial Estate as it is located on higher ground and has facilities to prevent flooding.

Useful advice, and wonderful to see a politician out there with the people. But I am a little surprised that a man who was once chairman of the National Water Resources Committee doesn’t have more useful thoughts. There must be more pressing issues for someone who is presumably a water resources expert, for example: what to do about the city’s yellow water supply.

So let’s get this straight. Thaksin is claiming that aid that says it is from him is not, in fact, from him. While aid which he says is from him, hasn’t yet arrived. Chalerm is saying he has ordered police to help, but police can’t help because they are not as well equipped as the army.

A couple of weeks ago, Banharn didn’t want to help, but now he wants the government’s help. And Sanan, well, the last time he was seen in public was a photo of him in Thai Rath newspaper when he attended a wedding on Oct 19.

I called the Chart Thai Pattana party headquarters to find him. They said they hadn’t seen him, and could I please call back on Tuesday?

How can there be so much criticism of the government when it’s clear that even the top guys _ guys who just a few months ago were saying they could rescue Thailand from the brink _ are making no excuses, working hard, working to the best of their abilities and, most of all, working together?

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