Thailand's worst floods in decades reach Bangkok as political fallout mounts
Some 40,000 Thai Army troops have been deployed to build flood walls, set up sandbags, and help evacuations, but citizens are beginning to express frustration with the government response.
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Large parts of Southeast Asia including Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have been flooded for the past month. Of the nearly 700 flood-related deaths throughout the region, some 342 have occurred in Thailand, according to the government. More than half of the 77 provinces have been affected, primarily in the north.
But, citizens are beginning to express frustration with the way the new government has handled the disaster, opening up the possibility that the floods could become a divisive political issue as different agencies begin to point fingers. The government has been vague with its predictions and information, say residents.
An editorial cartoon published in local English-language newspaper The Nation suggested that the floods meant the end of Thailand's honeymoon with Prime Minister Shinawatra, who has been criticized for wearing expensive Burberry boots to visit flood victims.
Newly appointed international Flood Relief Operations Command (FROC) spokesperson Sean Boonpracong says there’s a “50-50” percent chance water levels will continue to rise. “The real concern is how long it will take for the water to subside.”
A recent study carried out by Assumption University shows the FROC scores just 3.36 out of 10 for performance. The government seems to disseminate inconsistent or contradictory information, frequently issuing warnings only to retract them, suggesting relief efforts are discombobulated and disorganized.