Opposition leader advises country plan to reduce flood-related conflicts

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BANGKOK, Dec 23 – Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva proposed a crisis-oriented map of Thailand’s regions in the wake of the recent flood to systematically integrate information and cooperation to prevent unnecessary conflict among residents in adjacent areas in future crises.

Mr Abhisit, Democrat party leader, floated the idea at a seminar on using volunteers for post-disaster rehabilitation and lessons from the flood crisis. He said that a regionally-oriented country map is needed for improved cooperation to ease possible conflicts among residents of adjacent areas which will be better than planning done by each province on its own.

The improved maps will indicate the direction of water flow and its impact on the flood path for systematic management.

Models of connecting areas should be built and management authority should be clearly defined, the opposition leader advised, adding that he had earlier called for enforcement of a special emergency law.

“Had there been an apparent management strategy, the confrontation of armed crowds should not have happened,” he said.

The former prime minister suggested that the government should set up an agency to coordinate assistance to flood victims without redundancy.

In the recent crisis, volunteers wanted to help but not knew where to help. Most went to convenient areas, leading to duplication, while areas facing severe problems lacked assistance.

Mr Abhisit suggested that in addition, business insurance protection at a reasonable price would indicate confidence in the future.

The government must determine how to restore confidence among entrepreneurs and investors, the opposition leader said.  A rehabilitation agency should be established and supported by law.

According to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, the country’s disaster response agency, flooding remains in parts of six provinces, including Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, and Nonthaburi.

Beginning in late July, the floods left 744 people dead, and three unaccounted for. Millions of tonnes of crops were destroyed and industrial production was badly affected by the flooding.