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The great flood "conspiracy"

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There have been rumours that the floods were not an accident, but had been planned by the previous government. This subject was debated in parliament on Sunday in an exchange between Justice Minister Pracha Promnok and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. 

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There have been rumours that the floods were not an accident, but had been planned by the leaders in the previous government who knew they would lose the election. This subject came up in Sunday's no-confidence debate. Here are long excerpts from Justice Minister Pracha Promnok, director of the Flood Relief Operations Command who made the accusation and the response from opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. You can read the full story here: http://bit.ly/u36E7a

conspiracy – a secret plan by a group of people to do something bad or illegal  การวางแผนอย่างลับๆ การสมรู้ร่วมคิด
rumour – a piece of information, or a story, that people talk about, but that may not be true ข่าวลือ
no-confidence debate (censure debate) – formally criticising a cabinet minister or the full cabinet in a parliamentary session after which members vote to support or reject the การอภิปรายไม่ไว้วางใจ
excerpt – a part of a longer story, speech, song, text, etc. บทคัดย่อ
Flood Relief Operations Centre (Froc) – the government's centre for assisting flood victims ศูนย์ปฎิบัติการช่วยเหลือผู้ประสบอุทกภัย(ศปภ)
accusation –a statement that someone has done something wrong or illegal even though this has not been proved ข้อกล่าวหา
opposition – of a political party that is not part of the government ฝ่ายค้าน

Justice Minister Pracha Promnok, director of the Flood Relief Operations Command, faced parliament during the censure debate Sunday. THITI WANNAMONTHA

Abhisit fires back at Pracha's conspiracy theory

Did the Democrats deliberately hold back 4 billion cubic metres of water in the major dams to damage the new government in case they lost the election? Or should Pheu Thai be looking closer to home for a scapegoat for the flooding disaster?

Click button to listen to Debate 1 and rightclick to download

FLOOD RELIEF OPERATIONS COMMAND CHIEF  PRACHA PROMNOK

I am wondering whether the crisis was a natural disaster or actually a man-made phenomenon. I suspect there might have been a "Kongbeng water retention" plot to hold the water in a dam to be used later to destroy enemies.

If the water had been released from Bhumibol and Sirikit Dams at a rate of 1,000 million cubic metres per month between May and August, the 4,000 million cu/m of water [from the dams] would not have caused a disaster.

As of May 9 this year, when the House was dissolved, the water levels in the two dams were close to what they were in the same period in 2009 and 2010. But as of July 3, when the general election was called, the water levels were found to surge, which was much different to the water situations in the previous two years.

On Aug 25, the day the Pheu Thai government declared its policy statement in the parliament, the water levels were extremely high and water retention capacity of both dams had reached maximum by the time the Froc was formed on Oct 8.

Let me ask why the same water control measures used in 2009 and 2010 were not implemented until the dams were full and then the release of a massive amount of water began.

You [Mr Abhisit] must have been well informed about the five storms that were to come, but what was your reason to not [plan ahead] for the control of the water [in the two dams]?

By the time the Yingluck [Shinawatra] government took office, the two dams were almost full. It was only by sheer luck that the flood levels in Bangkok did not rise to two metres.

Had the Democrats managed the water as they had in the past two years, there would have not been a problem. But you intended to hold the Pheu Thai government responsible for [the consequences of] the surging water levels, didn't you?

In June, when the first storm, Haima, hit Thailand, the Democrat government still released only 1.5 million cu/m from the Bhumibol Dam and only increased that volume in July when the second storm, Nock-ten, came.

But since it was known ahead that the Haitang, Nesat and Nalgae storms would come between September and October, why did the Democrat government not reduce the water level of the dams ahead of these new storms?

The amount of water released reached its peak when the Froc was established on Oct 8. On that day, the two dams retained water at full capacity. Even 20 Pracha Promnoks could not deal with it.

Click button to listen to Debate 2 and rightclick to download

OPPOSITION AND DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA

The legend has it that Kongbeng knew it all, even when it would rain, so he then dissolved parliament while retaining extra water in the dams, pretended to lose the general election, and waited for storms to come and trigger the flooding.

From your charts, you have to explain first that the water levels [in Bhumibol and Sirikit Dams] were below the minimum water retention levels in 2009 and 2010, which means there was no extra drainage of water from the dams in the past two years. The water use was also at a normal rate but the rainfall then was rather low.

You can never compare the water situation this year with the years when the water levels were even less than they should be. The day I dissolved parliament, the water levels in the two dams still were below the minimum water retention level, too. And the water levels began rising from June to July. Around the time we had the general election, the water levels rose to about being half full.

As for the five storms, you've got to correct the chronology of the events as it was the third storm, Nock-ten, that arrived in late July and which later caused the dams to become full.

And it was untrue that the Yingluck government had to wait until after declaring the policies in parliament to begin working, because Section 176 clearly states that, in case of urgent state work, the government can begin working right away for the sake of the nation.

Therefore, the government should have counted Aug 10, the day it was sworn in, as the first day of governing the country, instead of Aug 25. So, even though I very much wanted to order the release of the water from the dams, I could not do so from Aug 11 onwards.

Besides, on Aug 10, the Bhumibol Dam, was only about 70% full, and between August and September it was the duty of a sub-committee under your Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister to manage the water.

The sub-committee has insisted that it released the water at a normal rate but what was not normal was the government's announcement on Sept 3 to implement a policy to release less water from the dams to allow rice farmers downstream to finish their harvest first. This is a fact.

If you said I knew in advance that the five storms would come, then so did you. You must also have known two months ahead that three more storms would come. Then what were you doing between August and September?

Sorry, you are blaming the wrong prime minister. You should blame the current prime minister.

Pracha

fire back – to make a strong reply to a criticism โต้กลับ
conspiracy – a secret plan by a group of people to do something bad or illegal  การวางแผนอย่างลับๆ การสมรู้ร่วมคิด
deliberately – done intentionally; done on purpose จงใจ ตั้งใจ
in case
scapegoat – someone who is blamed for something that is not their fault, especially because someone else wants to avoid being blamed ผู้รับเคราะห์แทนคนอื่น, แพะรับบาป
natural disaster –an unexpected natural event, such as a very bad storm or flood that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage ความหายนะธรรมชาติทาง, ภัยพิบัติธรรมชาติทาง
wonder – to think about something because you want to know more facts or details about it สงสัย
crisis – a situation that has reached and extremely difficult or dangerous point ช่วงวิกฤต
phenomenon – something that exists and can be seen, felt, tasted, etc., especially something which is unusual or interesting ปรากฏการณ์
suspect – to believe that something is true, especially something bad เป็นที่สงสัยว่า
Kongbeng – Zhuge Liang, or Kongbeng in Thai, a statesman and strategist of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. Kongbeng once lured the troops of Cao Ren, a military general serving the warlord Cao Cao, to the area where he had built a dam and retained water which he later released to destroy the troops
retention – the act of keeping or storing something การเก็บ, การเก็บรักษา
plot – a secret plan to do something bad  แผนการลับ
release – to allow a substance to flow out from somewhere ปล่อย
rate – the level or speed at which something happens or changes, or the amount or number of times it happens or changes in a particular period อัตรา
dissolve the House – to formally end the House of Representatives, usually leading to a general election ยุบสภา
level – the amount of liquid that there is in a container, river, dam, etc., which can be seen by how high the liquid is ระดับ
surge – to increase very quickly เพิ่มขึ้นอย่างรวดเร็ว
situation – all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place  สถานการณ์
declare – to announce officially ประกาศ
policy – a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย
retention – the act of keeping or storing something การเก็บ, การเก็บรักษา
retention capacity – the amount of something that can be kept in a place, building, container, etc. ความจุ
maximum – the most possible ที่สูงสุด ที่มากที่สุด
measure – an action taken to solve a particular problem มาตรการ
implement – to make something such as an idea, plan, system or law start to work and be used นำแผนหรือนโยบายมาปฏิบัติ, นำมาใช้
massive – very large มหาศาล
sheer – used to emphasise the size, degree or amount of something  เต็มที่, ที่สุด, ทีเดียว
intend – to plan to do; to want to happen ตั้งใจให้เกิดขึ้น, วางแผนไว้
responsible – deserving to be blamed for something that has happened มีความรับผิดชอบ
consequences – results of effects of something ผลที่ตามมา
volume – an amount of something ปริมาณ
peak – the time when something is at its highest or greatest level ช่วงเวลาที่พบมากที่สุด
establish – to start a company or organisation  สถาปนา, ก่อตั้ง, จัดตั้ง

Abhisit

legend – a story from ancient times about people and events, that may or may not be true; this type of story ตำนาน
pretend – to behave as if something is true when you know that it is not, especially in order to deceive people or as a game แกล้งทำว่าเป็นจริง
trigger – to cause ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น
chart – a page or sheet of information in the form of diagrams, lists of figures, etc ตาราง, แผนผัง, กราฟ
minimum – as small in amount or degree as necessary or possible จำนวนน้อยที่สุด, ปริมาณต่ำที่สุด
drainage – the process of taking away of water or other liquids from an area  การระบายน้ำ
normal – typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect ภาวะปกติ
correct – to make something right or accurate by changing it or removing mistakes แก้ไขให้ถูกต้อง
chronology – the order in which a series of events happened; a list of these events in order การเรียงตามลำดับเหตุการณ์
urgent – needing to be dealt with immediately ที่เร่งด่วน
state – government รัฐบาล
for the sake of – for the benefit or good of someone or something เพื่อ
swear in – to make someone give a formal promise in a law court or at an official ceremony สาบานตนเข้ารับตำแหน่ง, กล่าวคำปฏิญาณเพื่อรับตำแหน่งหน้าที่
insist – to keep saying very firmly that something is true ยืนกราน ยืนยัน
implement – to make something such as an idea, plan, system or law start to work and be used นำแผนหรือนโยบายมาปฏิบัติ, นำมาใช้
downstream – in the direction that a river or stream is flowing ตามกระแสน้ำ
harvest – the activity of collecting a crop, in this case a rice crop การเก็บเกี่ยวผลผลิต
in advance – before the time that is expected; before something happens ล่วงหน้า
current – of the present time ปัจจุบัน

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