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MAIL OPINION  By Shana Kongmun



The recent flooding took center stage over a scandal that took place at a local high school and rightly so. While the outrage that many felt over students dressing up as Hitler and Nazi stormtroopers is certainly justified, sometimes it is better to take a step back and rationally and realistically assess the situation and our priorities. Many readers were rightly angered over the incident but the fact is a little matter of a 40-50 cm of water in the business district and much higher than that in other areas around the city, took precedence over the foolish and ignorant behavior of students at a school who’s teachers should have known better.

And while I deplore the ignorance of the students and the lack of supervision by teachers I have one question to ask those who are appalled that these students don’t grasp what this means to Westerners. Do you have a similar visceral reaction to say, the rape of Nanjing where Japanese soldiers went on a killing frenzy, raping and murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese civilians? And what about something a bit more recent, the genocide of Cambodia and Pol Pot, genocide that our more enlightened and experienced nations turned a blind eye to? Or perhaps we can discuss the systematic torture and rape that goes on in parts of Myanmar even today?

Yes indeed, Thai students should know more about Hitler and the horrific genocide he perpetuated on millions of people. But perhaps, so should we learn more about other countries and cultures and the history that they learn.

And maybe, while we should be concerned, perhaps we should re-assess our priorities and be more concerned for the thousands of Chiang Mai residents and the millions of Thai people who are currently suffering from terrible flooding instead of focusing on an ignorant and foolish display that can be corrected with education. The loss of lives and homes is not so easily fixed.

Lend a helping hand

I had intended to write a column about the events at a local school and to address the outrage many feel. However, since then what can only be described as more pressing and current matters have struck this lovely city in the form of flooding that has inundated portions of the city.

Some people have been looking for someone to blame. Our mayor has accepted that blame and apologized for not protecting the city from the floods. But, really, is there blame to be laid?

Well, we could start with global climate change, which may (or may not as some people feel) be the reason we have had 9 weeks of regular, heavy rains. And indeed the rains started early this year with rain even in March. Or perhaps we could blame those people who built housing and businesses along a river known to flood regularly? Or maybe we should blame those people who chose to live there even knowing it does flood? Or those people who chose to ignore the warning signs (two full days of heavy rains after weeks of rain and totally saturated ground and a full river)?

Or perhaps we should blame the people in charge of the dams as I have heard a few people have already done? These officials face a catch-22. If it rains and they don’t store enough water then they are blamed for not saving enough water for the dry season. If they store water and save it for the dry season, they are blamed if they save too much and have the overcapacity problems the dams face now. I don’t think weather prediction is quite up to predicting long term forecasts months in advance but perhaps I am wrong and someone somewhere with the latest technology can predict rainfall amounts months in advance. If so, I hope this person steps up to the plate next time and lets that information public.

Or maybe we should just accept that nature happens and that no matter how hard we may try to combat the effects of disastrous weather, it still happens and there’s really very little we can do when it’s extreme. You can fight nature, but you will usually lose.

Perhaps it is better to focus on what we can do and get out there and help clean up this city that we love, to help our struggling neighbors, to join our local community with a broom, mop or scrub brush and help. It is times like these that people need to work together rather than sit around and try to find ways of apportioning blame.

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