Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sukhumbhand says locals must obey law

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has refused to negotiate with Pathum Thani residents after they raised the Khlong Phraya Suren sluice gate to 1.5 metres again without permission.

The Lam Luk Ka sluice gate, with stagnant water on this side, floods running off on the other.
MR Sukhumbhand yesterday said he would negotiate only after the sluice gate was lowered back to 1m. He stressed that the law must be upheld in place of mob rule. The governor made the statement after red shirt leaders in Pathum Thani demanded to meet him for talks on opening the sluice gate. The red shirt leaders included Sa-ngiam Samranrat, also a staff member of the Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) and a political-office holder at the Prime Minister's Office, Wutthipong Kotthammakhun and Sornsak Malai.
The red shirt leaders led more than 200 residents from Pathum Thani's Lum Luk Ka district to raise the sluice gate to 1.5m on Monday night after the gate was lowered to 1m on the orders of the Bangkok governor.
On Sunday night, a group of about 30 people, led by Pol Maj Sa-ngiam, cited an order by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the Froc director Pracha Promnok, to lift the gate to 1.5m, prompting the governor to order the gate lowered. MR Sukhumbhand said he was unhappy that someone in authority at the PM's Office had tampered with the sluice gate without permission.
He was referred to Pol Maj Sa-ngiam, who led the Pathum Thani residents to lift the gate on the two occasions.
The governor said he would not bow to any pressure and would file a lawsuit against Pol Maj Sa-ngiam.
City Hall spokesman Wasan Meewong said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) would ask the Froc to try to control Pol Maj Sa-ngiam who led residents to lift the sluice gate.
Mr Wasan said City Hall would take strict measures to prevent the unauthorised lifting of sluice gates in Bangkok and raise the issue with the Froc to restrain their staff from doing so.
Mr Wasan said that Pol Maj Sa-ngiam is a staff member at the Froc and he has already repeated the unauthorised action with the gate twice.
If the Froc fails to control its staff, then this would encourage similar mob rule or copycat actions in other areas, Mr Wasan said.
However, Pol Maj Sa-ngiam said he had acted on behalf of people who had been affected by floods, and denied suggestions by City Hall that he had tried to misuse his authority to raise the sluice gate.
He said it was clear that the order by the prime minister had instructed the Bangkok governor to open the gate when the need arose to ease the suffering of flood victims.
Previously, Mr Wasan insisted that it was not an order but only a Froc request letter asking for the gate to be raised. City Hall had already turned down the request, saying that complying with it would cause flooding in many areas of the capital.
Royal Irrigation Department former deputy director-general Weera Wongsangnak, who chairs Froc's committee on water management, yesterday said that the group led by Pol Maj Sa-ngiam was not associated with either the Froc or the area representative who met with Pol Gen Pracha earlier .
The director of Thailand's National Disaster Warning Centre Somsak Khaosuwan yesterday said the overall situation in Bangkok is returning to normal and the Froc would continue with the dismantling of big bag barriers.
He said about 140 big bag sandbags along the train tracks in Don Muang were removed on Monday and more were being taken away every day.