THAILAND: Flood Prevention Contract Wiped Out of ‘Hardcore News’ Time

ELIZABETH NAAI WRITES – After the devastating floods of 2011, which killed 800 people and wreaked havoc on the economy, flood prevention has been at the forefront of Thai national security.

A host of local and international firms has sought to cash in, competing for a 160 billion baht ($5 billion USD) contract to build floodways in the Chao Phraya River. Contenders were required to have at least 10 years of construction experience and capitalization of at least 30 billion baht. Korea Water Resource Corporation, also known as K-Water, won the main contract, but not without controversy.

On June 26, “Hardcore News” T.V. Channel 5 pulled in mid-air a report criticizing K-Water’s contested financial situation. Despite Director Chatchai Sarikalaya’s claims that the story had been rushed and was not credible, groups and communities opposed to K-Water’s contract claim the story was cut under duress from external forces.

Current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and K-Water have been under national scrutiny after a photo surfaced of the PM’s brother, exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, visiting the Korean company.

The news segment in question aired days after K-Water was chastised by the Federation for Environmental Movement for an alleged lack of experience, and the South Korean National Audit and Prosecution Agency began scrutinizing four dams K-Water-built in South Korea. Specifically, authorities are looking at whether the company adequately assessed the impact of construction on local communities and environmental damage to natural resources.

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