The suffering continues as politicians play game: Thailand

THAILAND - Maybe if Banharn Silapa-archa was the prime minister, the flooding situation might not be as bad as it has been this year.

After all, the former prime minister has been successful in protecting his long-standing political stronghold, Suphan Buri. The veteran politician was once heard saying that he knew the province, often referred to as "Banharn Buri", inside out because he had been an MP from there for more than 40 years. Obviously, he did not know it that well, because once, when he was prime minister, his beloved province was hit by a devastating flash flood.

"He was very angry and felt he had lost face," a source close to the politician said. "His critics questioned how he would be able to protect the country when he couldn't protect his constituency from something so simple. Banharn then promised that he would never let Suphan Buri be hit by floods again."

It is reported that Banharn has the keys of all watergates in Suphan Buri and does not allow anyone to open a single one to allow run-offs from the upper North.

His strategy has proved successful.

Obviously, Banharn's Suphan Buri is the province in the Central region that is suffering the least, while residents in other provinces such as Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Lop Buri, Angthong, Uthai Thani and Ayutthaya are practically drowning.

It is no surprise that Banharn, de facto leader and chief adviser to the Chart Thai Pattana Party, was seen behaving like the actual minister and tackling the flood problems instead of Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut. He supposedly held a meeting between the Agriculture Ministry and the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) and was allegedly seen taking control of affected areas in his province.

However, his apparent hands-on approach upset its coalition partner, the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

Pheu Thai MP Payap Panket from Sing Buri and Suchat Lainamngern, deputy secretary-general to the prime minister for political affairs and former Lop Buri MP, accused the RID of only protecting Suphan Buri and leaving nearby provinces inundated. The two politicians later submitted a complaint to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and Payap even led a group of protesters to block the closure of a watergate in Sing Buri.

Banharn later reportedly complained that this protest only benefited Sing Buri residents and caused flooding in Suphan Buri. The Pheu Thai MP responded by saying that Banharn was the reason the capital remained dry while everywhere else was under water.

Banharn shot back that his province too had been hit by floods, though not that badly because Suphan Buri's MPs had taken effective prevention measures by building several dams and closely monitoring the water levels.

As for the meeting with RID, he said he was a mere attendee and had not issued any instructions.

Banharn urged senior members of his party to help defend him, and reportedly also called on fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to have Payap and Suchat stop complaining.

Payap later revealed to the press that Thaksin had indeed told him to calm down because it could hurt relations with coalition partner Chart Thai Pattana.

Sadly, as coalition partners pay more attention to mending their relations, the poor public continues suffering.