Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The floods and the Prime Minister

Yingluck Shinawatra is a 44-year-old businesswoman who wasn't even in politics two months ago. She won the election riding on the popularity of her brother, fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a coup five years ago, and who is now living in Dubai while waiting for political amnesty. She is now being criticized for her response to the floods, but others have come to her defense arguing that the magnitude of the disaster would overwhelm anyone. Her cabinet is barely getting into their offices and now has to deal with a disaster that may reduce the country’s projected growth from 4.5 to 2 percent for the coming year.

During my stay this week I could not meet with several officials at the Ministry of Education because they had to go home and put into place sand bag walls to fend their houses from the flood waters.  Yesterday the government informed that most of Bangkok has been spared of the flood and that the Chao Phraya river, which runs in the middle of the city, has stopped rising. Most people are skeptic because more rain is also forecasted. This morning the office driver is supposed to pick me up at 8 a.m. (it is 6 a.m. now). He lives in a flooded area and was absent yesterday. We’ll see what happens.

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