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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     3 November  2011

Insurers want a plan
The Finance Ministry is planning discussions with foreign insurance firms, as their growing reluctance to join flooddamage reinsurance may rock foreign investor confidence in Thailand.

"Foreign insurers have stopped taking in flood reinsurance as they lack confidence in Thailand's water management system. This is crucial. No matter how much the government is doing in rehabilitating industrial estates, investors need allrisks insurance or they could relocate investment," Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala said today.

Finance Permanent Secretary Areepong Bhoochaoom is assigned to lead a delegation to meet foreign insurers, where the government's water management plan would be unveiled to win back their confidence. In a recent discussion, Singaporean insurers suggested the necessity of an effective water management plan.

Snakes escape
Another terror from the floods emerged on Wednesday - the public was warned 15 green mamba snakes escaped from a flooded building in Nonthaburi's Pak Kret district on Tuesday night.

Officials say the highly venomous snakes include two adults – two meters long - and 13 one meter-long young ones.

Anyone spotting the snakes must alert the Zoo and Wildlife Veterinary Society of Thailand via hotline 1362 or the Jor Sor 100 radio station at 027119160.

Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand vice president Chisanu Tiyacharoensri said that green mambas are yellowish green in color and are larger than green snakes. He urged people to stay away from the snakes and be careful not to be bitten because there was no serum available in Thailand at present for their venom.

Tap water reduced
The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority has reduced tap water production by 200,000 cubic metres a day because of the low level of dissolved oxygen in raw water at the Bang Khen plant.

MWA officials said on Wednesday they need time to improve water quality. In the meantime the plant cannot produce tapwater as normal.

People in some areas to the east of the Chao Phraya River will have a reduced water supply as a result.

The lower quality of raw water was the result of the damage to the earth dyke in Dong Mueang last Saturday, that caused floodwater  from Muang Ake housing estate in Pathum Thani to pour into the canal, they said.

Critical sluice gate repaired
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) workers successfully repaired the Khlong Sam Wa sluice gate Wednesday afternoon, amid tight security provided by 400 police.

Following the government order to open the Khlong Sam Wa sluice gate to 1 meter and the road blockage by angry residents, some of whom damaged earthen levee at the gate to release floodwater from their communities, BMA workers yesterday repaired the damaged section, using wooden pillars, sandbags and 10 sheet plies.

PM prepares master plan
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is preparing a national master plan to manage water flow in the Kingdom to prevent major disasters, dismissing allegations of lack of leadership and indecision.
"What I want to do now is to have a national master plan, which all Thais and foreign countries like to see, to manage water in the country. The plan would mobilise all real experts to work in the same direction. Today, we have [taken] so many directions which never worked," she said.

Irrigation department has plan
Royal Irrigation Department (RID) chief Chalit Damrongtham said that if left unmanaged the Thon Buri side of Bangkok would be underwater for at least one month, but offered some hope for improvement.

This was the main reason why the irrigation department asked for and received approval from the flood centre to manage the west side of Bangkok.

The first step is to control the release of water from the North so that the rate of water replenishment will be less than the outflow.

This could be done by releasing less water from major dams such as Bhumiphol, Sirikit and Pasak and controlling the level of Chao Phraya River by using Chai Nat's Chao Phraya dam. The objective was to  stop the river overflowing its banks.

This would reduce the floodwater in the fields as the water would flow back into the Chao Phraya, Mr Chalit said.

The second step was to limit the intake of Pholthep sluice gate at Chai Nat so as to reduce the volume of water flowing into the Tha Chin river and instead of overflowing its bank the river would able to  drain off excess water in the flooded plains in Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and the Thon Buri side.

Governor wants cooperation
Cooperation between the Flood Relief Operations Centre (Froc) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is the only way to overcome the flood crisis, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said on Wednesday.

Mr. Sukhumbhand called on officials of both the Froc and the BMA to refrain from making comments that could lead to conflict.

Bangkok governor said he had discussed flood situation on the phone with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and asked for cooperation in the efforts to prevent the capital from flooding.

“A high ranking official at Froc had earlier said that the centre could not work with the BMA, but since the prime minister and I have no problem with each other  there should be no problem anymore,” he said.

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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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