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Abhisit meets Yingluck to discuss crisis

Posted by arnon_k On October - 12 - 2011

Banned TRT politicians also join relief efforts

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday made a surprise visit to the government’s flood relief operations centre at Don Mueang airport.

Mr Abhisit led top Democrat MPs, including former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij, to meet Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, with whom he discussed proposed measures to protect Bangkok from flooding.

After the discussion, which lasted about 30 minutes, Ms Yingluck said she had explained to Mr Abhisit the flood situation in each river basin nationwide, the overall situation in Bangkok and how the government had prepared to protect the capital.

Tackling the flooding is now the top national priority, Ms Yingluck said.

Mr Abhisit said he made suggestions on how to deal with the floods, including bringing together all flood relief centres set up by the government under one roof to ensure a unified approach. He also said the government should determine which areas need urgent help and that it should evacuate people living in riverside communities immediately.

The prime minister should also exercise special powers as she sees fit to solve flood problems, Mr Abhisit said.

He also suggested that the government make use of a 70,000-square-metre cargo warehouse at Don Mueang airport to accommodate flood victims.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said the government had asked for help from banned politicians of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai Party who had dealt with the aftermath of previous floods and the 2004 tsunami.

The banned politicians, who were spotted travelling to the flood relief operations centre at Don Mueang, included Varathep Ratanakorn, Sidha Thiwaree, Suranand Vejjajiva, Noppadon Pattama, Puangpet Choonla-eiad and Phumtham Wechayachai.

Mr Varathep said he had met with some members of House No.111, a foundation formed by the banned politicians, after being approached by the government and that he and his colleagues were ready to help.

He said the group would work with a government-appointed committee charged with dealing with the flooding and would provide useful advice.

“We will draw from our experience when we were ministers,” he said. “We will help the government coordinate with others [whom we know] to seek their help [because] we have extensive connections,” he said.

The group would not make suggestions that obstruct the government’s flood relief work.

He rejected criticism that the group had emerged in an effort to reintroduce themselves to the public and voters ahead of the end of their five-year political ban in May.

A cabinet source said Deputy Premier Chalerm Yubamrung told the cabinet yesterday that he wanted all ministers to look back to information released by the Royal Irrigation Department seven months ago that predicted there would only be enough water this year for farmers to grow one crop of rice.

The source said Mr Chalerm said the department had miscalculated, prompting him to believe that the error was the result of nationwide water retention and control efforts and that the dams had not released enough water when it was raining several months ago.

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