Bangkok and the Floods of 2011: Urban Governance and the Struggle for Democratization

 

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Chintraruck, Alin and John Walsh, “Bangkok and the Floods of 2011: Urban Governance and the Struggle for Democratization,” in Michelle Ann Miller and Michael Douglass, eds., Disaster Governance in Asia (Springer, 2016), pp.195-209, available at: https://books.google.co.th/books?hl=en&lr=lang_en&id=gLcvCwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA194&dq=Walsh++%22Shinawatra+University%22&ots=ZgJUFSj-Tx&sig=9yt7sTvQhPc6scYRNE5eR2jMqrU&redir_esc=y.

Abstract:

The 2011 floods in Thailand took more than 700 lives and was one of the world’s three most severe economic disasters of that year. The incoming Pheu Thai administration, under PM Yingluck Shinawatra, faced its first significant emergency and was hamstrung by the limited ability of government to act. There was little coordination between government efforts and those of the opposition-controlled Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the army, which has long taken a role in disaster relief. Contentiously, provincial and peripheral areas were sacrificed to preserve central districts of Bangkok. Popular blame has fallen on the technocrat managers of the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), which manages the dams, as well as other unaccountable agencies and institutions. This has lent popular support to Pheu Thai’s strategy of broadening and deepening the scope of the democratically-elected government vis-à-vis unaccountable and unelected agencies. Decentralisation of water policy projects is part of the plan to increase the numbers of legitimate political actors and the Committee for Water and Flood Management will advise the RID and require any decisions made to be transparent and accountable. Plans to introduce a Ministry of Water will see the disaster mitigation infrastructure overseen by government agencies. The city of Bangkok will be at the heart of this struggle, since many of the large infrastructure projects will be located there and, as a primate city, it would be unthinkable for many elements of society for it to be subject to what is considered to be outside control.

Issues in Implementing Integrated Water Resources Management in Thailand

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Announcing: Chintraruck, Alin and John Walsh, “Issues in Implementing Integrated Water Resources Management in Thailand,” Global Business and Economics Review, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp.417–429, DOI: 10.1504/GBER.2015.072497, available at: http://www.inderscience.com/info/inarticle.php?artid=72497.

Abstract: This research paper explores the issues surrounding the implementation of the integrated water resources management (IWRM) system in Thailand. The research is based on in depth, personal interviews with experts from 20 different institutions using semi-structured interview agendas and synthesised with secondary data. The principal problems involved with implementing IWRM result from political interference, the cross-scalar nature of contests for resources, the complexity of Thailand’s water sources and lack of awareness. The research took place in the aftermath of the disastrous 2011 floods and so the fierce urgency of disaster mitigation coloured the opinions of some respondents. The interaction between private and public sectors in Thailand involves the intersection between feudal and capitalist systems. To overcome blockages, it may be necessary to incorporate additional use of market mechanisms in water provision. The need for genuine public participation in this debate is noted. The paper approaches water resources from the management perspective rather than the more normal technical or engineering approach.

Keywords: Thailand; water management; integrated management; water resources management; IWRM; public participation; private sector; public sector; political interference; resource contests; complex water sources; lack of awareness; flooding; disaster mitigation.

Integrated Water Resources Management in Thailand and Southeast Asia

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The hard copy of our paper has now arrived: Chintraruck, Alin and John Walsh, “Integrated Water Resources Management in Thailand and Southeast Asia,” in Linda Brennan, Lukas Parker, Torgeir Aleti Watne, John Flen, Duong Trong Hue and Mai Anh Doan, eds., Growing Sustainable Communities: A Development Guide for Southeast Asia (Prahran, Victoria: Tilde University Press, 2013), pp.69-79.

Abstract

Water resource management in Thailand is characterized by competition for scarce resources between industry, the tourist sector and public citizens, in a country in which environmental degradation and erratic climatic patterns are making the controlled flow of water increasingly difficult. The overlapping interests of different government agencies were demonstrated during the 2011 flooding. To overcome this, a new water management approach is emerging which is fraught with pragmatic compromise and postponement or avoidance of power relations issues. This situation is relevant to other Southeast Asian nations both in terms of geographical and climatic pressures on water resources in rapidly industrializing and urbanizing states and also in terms of competing interests in conditions of constrained democracy.

Issues in Implementing Integrated Water Resources Management in Thailand

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Announcing: Chintraruck, Alin and John Walsh, “Issues in Implementing Integrated Water Resources Management in Thailand,” Global Business and Economics Review, forthcoming, available at: http://www.inderscience.com/info/ingeneral/forthcoming.php?jcode=gber.

Abstract: Purpose (mandatory): this research paper explores the issues surrounding the implementation of the integrated water resources management (IWRM) system in Thailand. Design/methodology/approach (mandatory): the research is based on in depth, personal interviews with experts from 20 different institutions using semi-structured interview agendas and synthesized with secondary data. Findings (mandatory): the principal problems involved with implementing IWRM result from political interference, the cross-scalar nature of contests for resources, the complexity of Thailands water sources and lack of awareness. Research limitations/implications (if applicable): the research took place in the aftermath of the disastrous 2011 floods and so the fierce urgency of disaster mitigation coloured the opinions of some respondents. Practical implications (if applicable): the interaction between private and public sectors in Thailand involves the intersection between feudal and capitalist systems. To overcome blockages, it may be necessary to incorporate additional use of market mechanisms in water provision. Social implications (if applicable): the need for genuine public participation in this debate is noted. Originality/value (mandatory): the paper approaches water resources from the management perspective rather than the more normal technical or engineering approach.

Keywords: Thailand, water management, integrated water resources management, development, public participation, private and public sectors

This paper has been accepted and now appears on the website as a forthcoming paper – not sure whether it will see its way into print this year and might have to wait until 2015.

Contemporary Water Management Issues in Thailand in Comparative Perspective

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Announcing: Chintraruck, Alin and John Walsh, “Contemporary Water Management Issues in Thailand in Comparative Perspective,” Journal of Social and Development Sciences, Vol.4, No.5 (May, 2013), pp.218-28, available at: http://www.ifrnd.org/admin/jsds/55.pdf.

Abstract:

Water management is a complex and multifarious issue that joins together a wide range of different problems and approaches. Since water is essential to human life, governments must make efforts to ensure that everyone receives the water necessary but, at the same time, they have to wrestle with the fact that water is a scarce resource that must be priced for consumption under conditions of constantly increasing demand from cities, industry, agriculture and tourism. Examination of three case studies, Australia, Singapore and Japan, indicates that contemporary water management issue may be considered in a number of categories and analysis has taken place on four such categories. These are global climate change, disaster mitigation, political and legal modernization and allocation of water resources. The case studies inform the discussion of water management practices and prospects for Thailand and it is shown that the country is progressing towards the examples represented by the more developed and advanced countries insofar as it is ever possible to import a water management solution into the very specific geographical, hydrological, social, political and cultural conditions in effect in a specific location.

Keywords:

Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, water management

 

Water Resource Allocation Issues in Thailand

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Announcing: Chintraruck, Alin and John Walsh, “Water Allocation Issues in Thailand,” paper presented at the 2nd EnvironmentAsia Conference (Pattaya: May 15th-17th, 2013).

Abstract: The allocation of scarce resources has been problematic throughout modern history, particularly in the case of a resource as critical to human existence as water. Grounds for allocation include considerations of ideology, politics and equity. In conditions of increasing uncertainty regarding the supply of water resulting from global climate change and its effects, as well as continuously intensifying demand for water from industrial, agricultural, tourist and residential interests, the means and effectiveness of allocation decisions has become one of the most important decisions that governmental agencies are required to make. This issue is examined through the case study of Thailand, which is a country in a sub-tropical region receiving considerable rainfall during the monsoon season but with enormously elevated levels of demand for water in the contemporary period as the result of industrialization, population increase and the creation of a mass tourism industry. Historically, water allocation has taken place as the result of political contestation between government agencies and the provincial and national levels and private sector organizations and individuals. However, in a changing political and natural environment, new directions and approaches must be explored. This paper introduces new approaches to the issue of water allocation and highlights the changes in thinking required for future decision-making under conditions of greater unpredictability of supply and intensification of demand.

 Keywords: industry; resource allocation; scarce resources; tourism; water

The Allocation of Water Resources to Competing Interests: The Case of Thailand

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A paper to be presented at the forthcoming SIU International Conference, January 30th-31st, 2013 by Alin Chintraruck & John Walsh

Abstract

Water is not just a scarce resource but one which is essential to life and human civilization. In conditions of increasing uncertainty regarding the supply of water resulting from global climate change and its effects, as well as continuously intensifying demand for water from industrial, agricultural, tourist and residential interests, the means and effectiveness of allocation decisions has become one of the most important decisions that governmental agencies are required to make. This issue is examined through the case study of Thailand, which is a country in a sub-tropical region receiving considerable rainfall during the monsoon season but with enormously elevated levels of demand for water in the contemporary period as the result of industrialization, population increase and the creation of a mass tourism industry. Historically, water allocation has taken place as the result of political contestation between government agencies and the provincial and national levels and private sector organizations and individuals. This system is critically analysed within the context of the potential partial privatization of the water supply system on a functional or geographic basis. Since the existing system is shown to be sub-optimal, suggestions for future directions are reviewed.

Keywords: industry, resource allocation, scarce resources, tourism, water