Opposition demands water management scheme rethink

The Democrat Party has demanded the government review its water management scheme after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) pointed to several alleged irregularities in some projects.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi rehearses for a show to welcome delegates to the Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Chiang Mai in which he plays 19th century Lanna monarch King Mangrai. Mr Plodprasop's judgement in taking part in the play has been questioned. (Story at this link.) (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The NACC also raised doubts over the costliness of the 350 billion baht scheme aimed at preventing chronic floods and drought problems.

The NACC subcommittee's working group studying the scheme voiced concerns that the small number of contractors bidding for the projects under the scheme and turnkey contracts could lead to corruption.

"The government still has time to correct its mistakes," Democrat Party list MP Ong-art Klampaiboon said Saturday.

Mr Ong-art was also curious as to why the government drafted new regulations to speed up the projects when there were already laws on the books.

Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi said Saturday he was not worried about the NACC's criticisms and the doubts expressed by the Democrat Party.

However, he welcomed suggestions made early in the scheme's conception rather than later when everything is done and problems are difficult to solve.

Government spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard denied the Democrats' accusation that government cronies are speculating by buying land where reservoirs under the water project will be built.

The scheme has also come under fire from environmental activists and villagers who will be affected by the projects.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Chiang Mai said Saturday they would not allow reporters to cover a play starring Mr Plodprasop at the historical Wiang Kum Kam city in Saraphi district of the province.

The play, held to welcome participants to the summit, will be broadcast on Channel 11 today.

The 40-minute show, in which Mr Plodprasop will play King Mangrai, the founder of the ancient Lanna Kingdom in northern Thailand in the 19th century, tells the story of severe flooding in Wiang Kum Kam, the first capital of Lanna, which resulted in an urgent need for relocation.

However, the planned performance has been criticised by those who say that parts of the script are invented and do not reflect historical facts.

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