Comments by the King of Thailand
Yesterday’s Bangkok Post was full of surprises and interesting news. The main article was that the King of Thailand said that greed is a factor behind floods:
For a biologist hearing this from the Chief of State is music. The problem, as the King stated, is not always the high level administration or the law, but individual greed and widespread local corruption.
Another article in the same newspaper issue illustrated this problem: a TV star family has illegally encroached 390 rai (62 hectares or 153 acres) of forest reserve and wildlife sanctuary (the highest degree of protection in Thailand) north of Chiang Mai with the help of a corrupt village headman and Wildlife Sanctuary head. The land was sold at only 5000 Baht/rai because it was stolen from the government. The damage has already been done by greedy idiots without brains and hearts: they made a tremendous profit on the illegal logging followed by coffee plantation. Absence of forest will not only contribute to flash flooding downhill, but further decreases habitats for wildlife and orchids. This crime is in the magnitude of leveling an ancient cathedral to make some bucks. When westerners ask why private Orchid Arks are needed when this should be an issue for the Asian governments, please remember that this example of governmental corruption is not unique, just one in an endless row. Without the good forces within all levels of society (e.g. kindergarten teachers, monks, universities, ministers, companies and individual neighbours), mother nature will die.
Thailand is fortunate to have a chief of state who can pinpoint problems and is bold enough to say it in public. I guess this is a reason Thailand still has forests while Myanmar and the Lao ‘People’s Democratic’ Republic are losing theirs.
Text and photo: Ketsanee Seehamongkol and Eric Danell