Having engaged in childish tit-for-tat for the past couple of days, it appears that sensibility has been restored - at least for now – in the two protagonists in the conflict, Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi and Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.
The two men were to meet Friday at the office of the Water and Flood Management Commission to discuss the issue at stake. Mr Plodprasop said Thursday that he had invited MR Sukhumbhand, who also a member of the commission, to attend the commission’s meeting in order to settle the sandbag conflict, as suggested by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
The Science and Technology Minister insisted that the discussion would be mainly academic and he expected City Hall would explain the technical aspects of why it put sandbags in the drains to prevent flooding in various low-lying areas in the city. He added that he would apologise to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration if he is proven wrong about his strong opposition to the practice, but if he was unconvinced then all the sandbags stuffed in drains must be removed.
That is fair enough. The face-to-face meeting between the two organisations, BMA and WFMC, is indeed welcome news for Bangkokians, who are not only confused by their conflicting statements but also frustrated by their childish saber-rattling and politicising of the issue.
Earlier Mr Plodprasop ordered the BMA to remove all the sandbags within 15 days, otherwise he would do it himself, after sandbags were found stuffed in the drains along Srinakharin Road. The BMA responded with threats of lawsuits and accused the WFMC of interfering in City Hall’s affairs.
For the sake of the Bangkok public, the meeting should be broadcast live so they will also be informed of the technical side of the BMA’s flood-prevention method, and the arguments of the WFMC, if there are any.
If everything goes well – I mean if both sides engage in a constructive debate, in a mature manner, without pointing accusing fingers at each other – this should serve as model for future conflict solving between them.
And, if truth be told, many Bangkokians – I believe – are really sick of the seemingly endless proxy political gaming between the City Hall and the WFMC over the flood issue just for the sake of political gain. Give us a break, please!