There is one painful fact at this stage of the flood disaster: The waters need to pass through Bangkok as fast as possible to ease the suffering of people in other flooded areas.
The need to give the capital the best protection available is understandable, but it is being overwhelmed by other urgencies. Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani have been virtually knocked out by ravaging floods. Ayutthaya remains unconscious. Other provinces such as Nakhon Sawan or Angthong are still inundated and see little hope of quick recovery.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday invoked the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act to give her greater leverage when dealing with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Her flood relief centre’s conflict with the BMA has been in plain sight over the past few days, a situation compounded by problems or outright fighting among local politicians or officials. However, this is the worst time to let politics get in the way, so the situation is simple: Bangkok has to make some sacrifices now, not only as a payback but also for its own good.
To put it in straight language, if some parts of Bangkok have to be flooded so the waters can move faster towards the sea, then so be it. It’s the government’s and the BMA’s job to decide which areas to protect. Being the centre of government and the economy, Bangkok is the location of important places. Having said that, now is the time for all Bangkokians to be prepared to get their feet wet.
Simple calculations tell everyone that if Bangkok is to be kept dry at all costs, the suffering outside the capital and the remote provinces will last longer. That will be very bad for everybody, including the alreadystressed Bangkokians. This is not to mention the possibility of conflicting interests between those who are suffering and those who are not erupting in violence.
Bad politics at all levels is the last thing Thailand needs now. The cooperation between the government and the BMA and understanding between the government and Bangkokians must begin now, before the issue of who mismanaged dam waters and who was responsible for a huge amount of flood waters being trapped outside the city becomes more politicised than it currently is.
Even if the painful “surgery” means some parts of the capital will be under water for several weeks, it must be carried out sooner rather than later.