First the severe drought, and now the monsoon. Rainstorms are expected in 16 provinces, soon, and among them Chiang Mai, Tak, Nong Khai and Phuket.
Thailand has seen its fair share of natural disasters, and the ordinary citizen is not surprised at the onslaught of nature. Though what troubles society, especially rural communities, is the poor reaction from the local authorities.
Often the response from the junta is seen as knee-jerk, which invites people to assume that their military rulers have no plan of action nor foresight to analyse the impact on the population. Despite the decades of experience in managing natural crisis, there’s no evidence, at least one that’s transparent, of any contingency on how to reduce the vulnerability of communities.
As the authorities are occupied with arresting pro-democracy activists, detaining students and ensuring that people place no hope in democracy, the flood-related risks are ignored. What is absent is community participation; of cooperation among stakeholders to plan, coordinate and evaluate community-based programs.
The junta is busy trying to be a hero, and failing miserably at it, while relying on bureaucrats to solve problem – or attempt at it. And how do they plan to mobilize the population in the face of yearly floods and landslides? Will the junta leaders resort to soliciting advice from their famed get-rich-quick soothsayers, who are perceived to have the superstitious “wisdom” to halt disasters.
In the end, the troubling part is while fantasies are entertained and lessons-learned are throw out of the window, we will see the continuation of hardship faced by the rural people. The increase of personal debts, unpaid bank loans, social marginalization and a spiral decline on the national economy are surely concerns that even fortune-tellers are unable to predict, or perhaps they and the lot in Bangkok do not care.