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Thai floods pose political and economic risks

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Subject

The political and economic consequences of flooding in Thailand.

Significance

On June 15, King Maha Vajiralongkorn deployed the Royal Guards to help manage flash floods that hit Bangkok in late May. This follows Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang issuing a formal apology on May 26 for the city’s poor management of floods that debilitated 29 districts. Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) officials have also acknowledged that the BMA was unable to manage the rising waters. The May floods were the third in a series of flash floods to hit Thailand this year and mostly affected Bangkok; the first, in January, hit the northern and southern provinces. The monsoon season will not abate completely until November, and the likelihood of further, possibly worse, water-related disasters is high.

Impacts

  • Failure to tackle severe flooding could undermine foreign investor interest.
  • New production centres could be needed in areas with less flood risk, implying a need also for new logistics systems.
  • Worsening flooding will present growing public health risks.
  • Absent government consultation, constructing anti-flood infrastructure could face public pushback.
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