Regime seeks neighbours’ help on smog

Regime seeks neighbors’ help on smog

Laos, Myanmar sent letters on North crisis

10 Apr 2019 at 12:53



The government has sought cooperation from Myanmar and Laos to help mitigate haze, which is wreaking havoc in the North, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Gen Prayut said the bush fires and haze in the northern provinces have diminished, though the situation also depends on neighboring countries.

“I yesterday wrote to Laos and Myanmar asking them to help us tackle these problems,” said Gen Prayut.

He said Thai officials on the ground are also working with their Myanmar counterparts to deal with the issue, including sharing equipment to douse fires.

Gen Prayut also called on firefighters to be cautious about combatting bush fires. In the areas where fires are raging, they should consider making buffer zones to defend wildlife, he noted.

“As for those who start the fires, they must face prosecution as they violated the law,” said Gen Prayut.

According to the premier, the government has devised several measures to combat haze, including seeking cooperation from companies to refrain from buying crops from farmers who encroach on forest land or conduct inappropriate farming practices.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said the number of bush fires in the nine northern provinces dropped from almost 2,000 on April 2 to around 300 on Tuesday.

“Well, cooperation has been given by local people overall, but some residents are still setting fires in the forest, so a better understanding must be created and this may take time,” said Gen Anupong.

Meanwhile, 15 tampons have joined a campaign to prepare for the impact of global warming.

Eight tambon administrative organizations (TAO) recently signed an agreement to develop a learning center for environmental management and global warming mitigation at a tourist service center in Chiang Rai’s Thoeng district.

These TAOs are from Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani, Chaiyaphum, Udon Thani, Chiang Mai, Prachin Buri, and Chiang Rai. Another seven TAOs, which had earlier participated in the campaign, was also present.

They formed part of a network called “Smart Camp: Smart Network: Smart Community” operating under the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth).


buffer: a thing or person that reduces a shock or protects somebody/something against difficulties – ตัวกัน

counterpart (noun): someone who has the same job or purpose as another person, but in a different country, time, situation or organization – คนที่อยู่ในตำแหน่งเดียวกันของอีกประเทศ หรือ กลุ่มหนึ่ง

diminish: to gradually become less – ลดลง, อ่อนแรง

douse (verb): to pour a lot of liquid over somebody/something; to soak somebody/something in liquid สาดน้ำหรือของเหลว, จุ่มในของเหลว – สาดน้ำหรือของเหลว, จุ่มในของเหลว

encroach: to gradually enter, cover or take control of more and more of an area of land or sea – บุกรุก, ล่วงล้ำ

haze: water, smoke or dust in the air that makes it difficult to see clearly – หมอกควัน

mitigate: to make something less harmful or serious – บรรเทา

mitigation: a reduction in the harmful effects of something – การบรรเทา  การผ่อนคลาย

wreaking havoc: causing something bad to happen in a violent and often uncontrolled way – ทำให้เกิด ความเสียหายอย่างรุนแรง, ทำให้เกิดความหายนะ


Responders Quickly Extinguish One of Korea’s Largest Wildfires

Responders Quickly Extinguish One of Korea’s Largest Wildfires

Two people are dead and hundreds displaced after a massive fire swept through several towns in South Korea’s northeastern Gangwon province last week. The blaze was extinguished within a few days thanks to quick action from emergency responders, despite high winds that hindered the use of firefighting helicopters and helped the fire spread more quickly.

Authorities are calling this one of the largest fires in South Korean history – it destroyed at least 470 homes, almost 200 warehouses, and dozens of farms, and killed more than 41,000 livestock. One person died from the fire and one was killed after being struck by debris. Investigators believe the fire began from a transformer spark in the evening of April 5. Local firefighters, South Korean soldiers, and even American service members stationed nearby quickly jumped in to fight the flames, bringing the bulk of the fire under control within a few days.

With the fire extinguished, the region is now shifting to recovery. President Moon Jae-in declared a state of emergency on Saturday to provide extra emergency funding for the area, and Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon told ministers not to hesitate in devoting more resources to the region as they start the rebuilding process. Disaster management was one of Moon’s 12 main pledges during his presidential campaign, and he has made a swift response to emergencies a cornerstone of his plan to build a “Safe South Korea.”

Moon pledged to restore Gangwon province’s forests as soon as possible and to fund prevention efforts to deter future fires. “Gangwon province experiences fires year by year, so in order to fight wildfires we need to build forest roads and procure needed helicopters,” Moon said, referring to roads that could provide obstacles and slow the spread of large wildfires among Gangwon’s extremely flammable pine forests. Although emergency responders stopped the massive fire’s spread quite quickly, people still pointed out room for improvement for the future. Because of the poor weather conditions, particularly high winds, South Korea’s fleet of firefighting helicopters was grounded for extended periods of time. And major broadcasters have drawn criticism for failing to provide sign language interpretation during emergency broadcasts about the blaze. Activists gathered this week for a rally and submitted a petition to South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission calling for required sign language translation for TV programs, particularly during emergencies. Others have pointed out the need to address some of the factors that may have exacerbated the problem before it even started, including droughts and other climate change-related issues.

Meanwhile, the Korean public has stepped up to help those affected by the devastating blaze. According to the Chosun Ilbo, donations to two major disaster relief agencies topped 10 billion won ($8.8 million) as of April 8. In particular, celebrities have stepped up to raise awareness, with singers like Psy and IU personally donating 100 million won ($88,000) each to the relief effort.

One of the biggest ongoing concerns is whether the Gangwon region, famous for hiking and beaches, will rebuild in time for the lucrative tourist season. To help encourage tourists to visit the province, Korail is offering30 percent off train tickets to the area on their new Gangneung Line, which was completed last year ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Korail is also providing free train tickets to anyone who has volunteered with the recovery effort.

Despite some clear room for improvement, quick action from local emergency responders prevented one of Korea’s largest wildfires from being even more destructive. As victims and volunteers continue the cleanup and rebuilding effort, the focus will turn to ensure the flow of government and public support into the region and prevention efforts aimed at stopping the next fire before it starts.

Jenna Gibson is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Chicago and a Korea blogger for The Diplomat. You can find her on Twitter at @jennargibson.