After a torrent of panicky forecasts, warnings and frenzied preparations to combat any flooding, the National Water and Flood Management Policy Committee now says the storm will enter Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos on Saturday and move into Thailand on Monday.
Gaemi is expected to bring with it torrential rain which will move across the lower northeastern region, the Central Plains and the lower North and finally on into Myanmar.
Royol Chitdon, head of a subcommittee of the Water and Flood Management Committee predicted that the storm would bring heavy rainfall of up to 100mm for probably 24 hours, from Monday night until Tuesday night.Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi predicted heavy rains from Saturday through until Tuesday. "Everybody should be well prepared and work together, and no more bickering," he said.The minister suggested that people in Bangkok should stay home unless it is absolutely necessary they go out, to ease traffic congestion and allow officials to do their job efficiently. It is not necessary to stock up on food or drinking water.Minister Plodprasop met with Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra and the governors of Prachin Buri, Sa Kaew, Nakhon Nayok and Chachoengsao on Thursday to fine-tune their preparations for the approaching storm and possible flooding.Mr Royol said that the highrise buildings and heavy use of airconditoners in Bangkok have contributed to the unusual amount of rain due to the accumulated heat generation.
"For instance, we estimated there would be 66mm rainfall per hour, but it turned out to be 90mm an hour," he said.Governor Sukhumbhand said City Hall is well prepared to cope with the storm. Sluice gates at Klong Thawee Wattana, Klong Song Sai Tai, Klong Saen Saeb-Minburi and Lat Krabang have been opened to release water out into the rivers and, finally, into the Gulf.Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand assistant governor Kitti Tancharoen said all dams operated by Egat have enough space to store water from the storm. Srinakharin dam has room for another two billion cubic metres and Vachiralongkorn for another one billion cubic metres of water.However, the City Hall appears to be still at odds with the government over the issue of sandbags which were found to have clogged the sewers in Min Buri area. Bangkok Deputy Governor Thirachon Manomaipibul posted in his Facebook page suggesting that the sandbags, which appear new might, have been deliberately put into the sewers to block the water flow.
The government’s controversial rice pledging scheme also remains in the public limelight with the cabinet on Tuesday deciding to extend it for another year at an estimated cost of 405 billion baht.The government plans to borrow 150 billion baht, which will have to be paid back with interest, and the rest will be financed by the Commerce Ministry from the expected sale of the rice stockpile of some 16 million tonnes. The government plans to buy up to 26 million tonnes of paddy this harvest - 15 million tonnes from the main crop and 11 million from the second crop.The Commerce Ministry, meanwhile, claimed that there are only four million tonnes of rice still unsold in the stockpile and that it has commitments to export about seven million tonnes of rice to China, Indonesia, Ivory Coast and Bangladesh. This was questioned by rice exporters and critics because the Commerce Ministry could not provide evidence of export contracts to those countries, the actual amounts to be sold and when they are to be delivered.In the meantime, the 100-plus group of academics and students of National Institute of Development Administration and Thammasat University will push ahead with their challenge to the constitutionality of the rice pledging scheme by petitioning the ombudsmen.The move follows the Constitution Court’s rejection of their petition on legal technicalities - but they can resubmit it.
The academics' move prompted protests by farmers' groups outside Nida campuses in Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai and Suphan Buri.
Former deputy prime minister and interior minister Yongyuth Wichaidit resigned on Thursday as Pheu Thai Party leader and party list MP.He said he did not want people to claim he was trying to cling to the positions until the court rules on his eligibility, and that he wanted to show political spirit.Mr Yongyuth earlier resigned from his two cabinet posts - deputy prime minister and interior minister - effective from Oct 1 after the National Anti-Corruption Commission ruled he had abused his authority in approving the Alpine land sale when he was deputy interior permanent secretary in 2002. Based on the NACC’s findings, the Interior Ministry’s civil service subcommittee retroactively expelled him from the civil service, effective 2002.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra praised Mr Yongyuth's decision to resign and said he had made a sacrifice to prevent any possible negative repercussions on the government.Also announcing his decision to quit politics was de facto Bhumjaithai Party leader Newin Chidchob, on his 54th birthday in Buri Ram on Thursday. Mr Newin told the media he acknowledged he had serious conflict with several people in political circles and if he were to stay on in politics there would be more conflict with little chance for reconciliation.He said he was happy to be with his football team, Buri Ram United, and was totally preoccupied with football. As for the new leader of Bhumjaithai, he preferred Anuthin Charnveerakul to take the helm.In the restive deep South, an air of unease continued, with 90% of businesses reported to kept their doors closed this Friday, the operators intimidated by rumours of attacks by militants if they dared to open for business on the Muslim sabbath.National Security Council secretary-general Lt-Gen Paradon Patthanabut admitted that it was difficult to counter the intimidation and fear, which spread by word of mouth. But he said the threat would only work for so long, then business would return to normal.
The Chula Ratchamontri, the Muslim spiritual leader in Thailand, said that nowhere in the Koran is there a ban on trading on Friday. He urged people in the restive region to carry on with business as usual.One suspect was arrested in Sai Buri district of Pattani for allegedly distributing leaflets threatening business operators if they do not adhere to the Friday business ban.
Twelve other people were also briefly detained for questioning by authorities for distributing similar leaflets, but they were later freed without charges.