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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     28 October  2011

Thai businesses cite information gap

Bangkok businesses say unclear and inadequate flood information is making it harder for them to make preparations.

Both the central government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) have failed to provide clear forecasts about how much water could arrive in the capital and when, said Chai Srivikorn, president of Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association.

Bangkok's flood protection barrier can withstand a rise of 2.5 metres in the Chao Phraya River, but if the water is higher than that, major damage would result, he said yesterday.

Figures from the BMA showed the water level had reached a record 2.4 metres this week. At a meeting with Bangkok business operators yesterday, BMA officials warned that more water would arrive in the next few days.

"If the government gives the public clear information, people can decide whether to stay in Bangkok or leave," Mr Chai said.
"Also, the government must reassure their confidence that if they choose to stay, it has a plan in place to protect them and to drain the water out. For those decide to leave, their assets will be protected."

The BMA said yesterday that a warning would be given 12 hours in advance of floods, which Mr Chai said was not enough time for businesses to react.
Shopping centres in the Ratchaprasong area will decide whether to close when floodwaters reach 50 centimetres.

Hotel operators are still unsure whether they should accept new bookings. Occupancy in the Ratchaprasong area is about 40 percent, compared to 90 percent in the normal high season. Foreign shopper numbers have fallen by half.

Pornsil Patcharintanakul, deputy secretary-general of the Board of Trade, said political conflicts, mainly between the Pheu Thai government and the Democrat-led BMA, were making it harder for businesses and the public to decide whom to trust.

"Businesses will do their best to survive on their own. Obviously, confidence has been tarnished and needs to be restored," he added.

Chartchai Tuongrataphan, executive consultant of the Thai Retailers Association, said that as long as floodwaters did not exceed 1.2 metres, large vehicles could still transport consumer goods throughout the capital.

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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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