Getting any actual fact about the flooding in Bangkok and where it might end up next is practically impossible. Instead of like in the west, where a central body would be charged with releasing news it seems, in Bangkok, anyone can release news about flooding, whether it’s happening or not. So, you get one government official saying one thing, another disagreeing and saying something else. Add onto that all the news reports on TV and in the newspapers from “eyewitnesses” who are either exaggerating about the flooding or don’t know what they’re seeing, and you can’t believe much it seems.
Panic is also spreading about possible dykes breaking, so the Bangkok Post will publish “Breaking News” about a dyke likely to fail, then a few hours later publish more “Breaking News” saying there was never a problem with the dyke and everything is “under control”.
And don’t even get me started on The Nation. Their reports are about four hours behind the Bangkok Post and, over the weekend, as the flooding situation was changing every hour, their website was still showing reports and “news” from 18 hours before.
Then, back to The Bangkok Post, which is also relying on eyewitness accounts from an “old reporter” who lives in the north of the city, so half of their “Flood Reports” are filled with “the old reporter says flooding is happening at…”, “the old reporter saw from his window…..” – I kid you not.
Add onto this the people who don’t like the fact flood waters might appear in their neighbors, so are taking it upon themselves to break down dykes and sandbags erected by the government in an effort to save their districts and flood the business district and central Bangkok. In the west, these people would be arrested and imprisoned. In Thailand they’re “warned” and then “officials retreat”. Seriously.
What’s amazing to westerners living here is why the government isn’t more in control of the information going out and why the government isn’t stopping residents from breaking down sandbags and dykes by telling them emphatically, “If you expect to get food and supplies over the next month, you’d best stop breaking down barriers, or supply trucks won’t be able to get to you.”
The whole situation is a mess — filled with gossip, panic and downright lies, particularly from certain “government officials”, some who still seem to be using their hatred of the current government to cause panic and distress rather than to help their country.