“I have tried to understand the protesters, why they have to protest. Why they believe this?
"Anyway, I thank them for caring about the forests and the wild animals, but I love Thai people more. I opt for the lives of Thai people more [than forests and wildlife]," he said.
"I have to make sure that the Thai people are safe. Forests can be recreated, wildlife can be recreated. But if there is a flood, there will be no Thai people. The country could not survive. The government has already decided to build the Mae Wong dam. There won’t be a change of mind.”
The key words from this definitive statement by Mr Plodprasop, the overlord of the government’s 350 billion baht water management megaprojects, are -- “forests and wildlife can be recreated” and “I love Thai people more".
Mark his words, that he loves Thai people than he loves the forests and wild animals. As one of the Thai people Mr Plodprasop professes to love more than the forests and wild animals, I am not sure whether I should feel proud or not. I have no idea how much the deputy prime minister loves forests and wildlife compared to other things, besides the "Thai people" and building dams.
Anyway, for the moment giving him the benefit of doubt, I have one question for Mr Plodprasop about these projects, particularly the floodway project:
“Your excellency deputy prime minister, can you, at least just once, be honest and transparent and tell us more about these projects that will have a huge impact on so many of us - such as the 300km floodway which will cut across the Central Plains before draining into the Gulf - if you love us as much as you claim?”
Most people in the Central region have no idea where the floodway will be built, and whether they will be moved out and their land expropriated by the government. They are worried. They need to know in advance so that they can at the very least make some plans about what to do, how to cope with the situation that faces them.
The floodway project has been awarded to Korea Water Resources Corp, or K-Water, which has won the bidding for two modules – Module A3, a water retention project, and Module A5, the 153 billion baht floodway project.
As for his claim that wildlife can be bred and wildlife populations re-stocked, and forests can be replanted. On the one hand I was left speechless that a former forestry department chief - which Mr Plodprasop is, and supposedly knowledgeable - cannot distinguish between a god-sent natural forest and a man-made forest - a tree farm. Nor can I understand his clear belief that wildlife is nothing more than a few tigers, some endangered deer and a few threatened birds.
On the other hand I was also not surprised at all, given the history of the blind promotion of shrimp farming along the coasts of Thailand and the consequent wanton destruction of mangrove forests.
Mr Plodprasop was once director-general of the fisheries department, which championed the promotion of shrimp farming. Now almost all the coastal shrimp farms are abandoned, poisoned from overuse of chemicals, and non-productive.
About 800 people perished in the Big Flood in 2011, millions more were affected, but Thais have survived the catastrophe. Many had to dig deep into their pockets to pay for repairs to their damaged properties, despite government promises of help.
And I believe many of them still remember the shipshod performance of those most very senior officials who were in charge, Mr Plodprasop in particular, and responsible for flood prevention and relief operations. They failed in their duty.