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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     24 October  2011

Singapore businesses hurt by Thai flood

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Some Singapore businesses in Thailand have not been able to escape the brunt of the nation's worst flooding in decades with their factories reportedly being completely destroyed.

Many of the business owners said this could have been avoided if Thai authorities had given earlier warnings about the extent of the flood.

One Singapore-based company which deals with precision machining parts was submerged in water measuring some 2.5 metres as of October 22.

It is just one of the many factories in Thailand's high-tech industrial estate that has been damaged by the floods.

While all staff have been evacuated safely, employees believe the company's losses could have been greatly reduced if authorities had issued earlier warnings.

Singaporean Mr. Arthur Lau, who is working in Thailand, said: "We were not clear how bad the situation would be as far as the floods are concerned because there's a lot of conflicting information from authorities saying the floods won't be coming in so soon and the depth of the water won't be so high so we could not take appropriate action.

"Fortunately we took the right decision to shut because my factories direction was to continue working until the situation is really life threatening. But obviously, we couldn't go on because the water is quite scary. On October 11, I and a Thai colleague went out to the main road which was one kilometre away from our factory and the dykes had already burst through."

Predicting the water levels remains a challenge for Thai authorities.

Thai Ambassador to Singapore, Mr. Nopadol Gunavibool, said: "Although we manage to build dams and dykes, the strength of the water is rather unpredictable and we don't know when the dykes will break. At the moment, we have good planning and relief supplies are getting to the victims.

"I think the foreign ministry has set up a coordinating centre and relief supply and those from overseas will come to this centre and distribute to the victims effectively."

Authorities have transformed the Don Muang airport into an evacuation centre with about 3,000 people sleeping in departure lounges or tends pitched in the arrival halls.

The floods have also raised concerns about Thailand's rice exports.

The country is the world's largest rice exporter.

Export prices of Thai fragrant rice preferred by Singaporeans have risen by 9 percent since the start of the year as a result of the severe floods in Thailand.

Mr. Gunavibool said: "Of course there will be some effect on rice production this year. But you must remember that Thailand is a big country and we have other areas of rice growing which are not affected by floods at all. For example, the north-east is the main area for growing rice these days. The other area is in the South. Any area in the South is completely dry.

"Having said that, of course there will be less output this year but I think there will be enough for export and also for the consumption in Thailand."

To raise funds for flood victims, the Thai Embassy here has organised a charity dinner with the Thai Association in Singapore.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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