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 Flood-Recovery Effort to Test Thai Leader

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PostSubject: Flood-Recovery Effort to Test Thai Leader   Flood-Recovery Effort to Test Thai Leader Icon_minitimeSun Oct 30, 2011 10:24 pm

The Thai capital became two different cities Sunday: one where some relieved residents saw river embankments mostly withstand weekend peak tides, and another where refugees continued to flee a Kuwait-sized, polluted mass of water slowly bearing down on the north of the city.
Flood-Recovery Effort to Test Thai Leader WO-AH599_THAIFL_G_20111030174558
In one moment fraught with symbolism, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government was forced to abandon its own flood-crisis center at Bangkok's old international airport on Saturday as the deluge there worsened, setting up a new hub at the headquarters of state oil firm PTT PCL.discount jerseys Further upstream, many of the country's main industrial estates remain submerged, and the spotlight here is turning to how Thailand's young, politically inexperienced premier will direct what is shaping up to be a monthslong, multibillion-dollar recovery effort.

Some historic areas surrounding Bangkok's Grand Palace and Chinatown flooded briefly as high tides peaked on Saturday and Sunday, but quickly drained away, encouraging Ms. Yingluck, a 44-year-old former business executive elected in July, to declare that the worst appeared to be over and that "we will recover soon."

The bigger problem, though, continues to be the mass of water nfl jerseys cheap inundating the sweeping housing estates and industrial parks just north of the city and that still has to find a way through and around Bangkok to the sea.

Northern Bangkok has been hit particularly badly as foul-smelling floodwaters filled the once-teeming streets around the old Don Muang airport and other nearby districts and seeped farther to the city center. A few hundred evacuees remain camped out at the Don Muang terminal, ignoring a government order to evacuate. Many more streamed in on Sunday from a nearby Buddhist temple, fighting their way through fetid, chest-high floodwaters as they cross what used to be a six-lane highway in search of safer terrain.

"There are around a hundred of us still over at the temple opposite the jerseys wholesale airport," said Chaiyapreuk Kaewkamol, a 57-year-old retired air-force captain, as he watched abandoned cars floating in the airport parking lot on Sunday. "I've lived here all my life and I've never seen anything like this before."

It isn't the kind of crisis Ms. Yingluck, the youngest sister of former steelers jerseys cheappopulist leader Thaksin Shinawatra, expected to face after she was elected in a landslide in July. As soon as she was sworn in, Ms. Yingluck quickly went to work by introducing plans to support rice prices and raise minimum wages to shore up her rural political base.

Now, though, with the central bank projecting economic growth to slump to 2.6% this year from its early forecast of more than 4% and with nearly 400 people dead, Ms. Yingluck's government is gearing up for a massive cleanup and recovery operation—the success of which could determine whether Thailand retains the confidence of foreign investors who have seen their supply chains crippled by the disaster.

The automobile and computer-component plants in the industrial zones north of Bangkok have been hit especially hard, with around a quarter of the world's production of hard-disk drives now shut down and auto makers such as Toyota Motor Corp. cutting back output at plants as far away as Canada and the U.S. because of a shortage of key parts.

Political analysts say the reboot of this industrial belt, whenever it happens, will be a test for Ms. Yingluck—and one that could make or break her administration after just a few months in office. Honda Motor Co., for instance, might not be able to reopen its flooded factory for cheap nfl jerseys another six months, Japan's Nikkei business daily reported Sunday.

"Her results will be very high or very low—there is no barely passing grade," said Michael Montesano at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. "The key part of the test is how Ms. Yingluck handles the recovery."

One of Ms. Yingluck's main challenges is to find a way to bridge the chronic divisions that still plague Thailand and have hampered her response to the flood crisis. Many conservative bureaucrats and army chiefs remain wary of Ms. Yingluck and her brother, Mr. Thaksin, whose formula of populist politics and well-oiled grassroots organization threatened to end the army's traditional influence on this tropical Buddhist kingdom until he was ousted five years ago.

Just two weeks ago, Ms. Yingluck struggled to persuade her political rivals who run Bangkok's city government to let the mass of floodwaters sitting in Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya provinces north of Bangkok find its way to the sea through the sprawling metropolis. She eventually natywon that battle, though it hasn't yet come close to draining all the floods.

For now, the severity of the crisis is gradually enabling Ms. Yingluck to flex more muscle, analysts say. She has also received some indirect support from Thailand's highest authority—revered 83-year-old monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thursday that King Bhumibol had asked that no special measures should be made to spare the country's royal palaces at a time when more than two million Thais have been affected by the crisis.

Some Thai media also are beginning to sense that the blame for the disaster up river—if there is any blame to cast—might not entirely lie with the government. "Ms. Yingluck's government's poor performance hasn't been all its own doing," wrote local columnist Voranai Vanijaka. Previous administrations have been criticized for short-sighted water management planning, while Bangkok's city governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who declared earlier this month that Bangkok was his sole responsibility, has come under fire for being slow to open up the water gates that protect the capital's network of canals from the floods. Mr. Sukhumbhand has said his primary responsibility is to protect Bangkok.
Chris Baker, a Bangkok-based author and political commentator, said it is "very difficult to tell" how the dice will land for Ms. Yingluck in the aftermath of the floods. "I think it's still in the grasp of Ms. Yingluck and the government," Mr. Baker said. "They could turn it against their critics."
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