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7 July 2013

The President of Republic of Korea
South Korean Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand
23 Thiam-Ruammit Road Ratchadapisek, Huay Kwang
Bangkok 10320 Fax  02 247-7535

Information disclosure and ensuring public participation in Thailand’s water scheme

Dear the President,

For the past five decades since Thailand’s first National Economic and Social Development Plan, a large number of Thai people have been suffered by the government’s water management. Many local communities were destroyed when dams and water infrastructure were built. Thailand is an agricultural country, which largely depends on water resources. Once the ecosystems and natural resources are devastated, it directly affects community’s livelihoods, fishery, agriculture, source of income, and food security. To date, chronic impacts of dams have not been solved, and became a long-term social problem.  

Thai society has been suffered for decades by development that ignores traditional way of livelihoods, neglecting impacts on the locals. Still, this has not been recognized as a lesson by Thai government. Moreover, the Thai government launched a scheme for water management with the budget of 350 billion baht, of which information has not adequately disclosed to the public. Companies have been selected to implement the scheme. One of them is K-Water from South Korea.

Most of Thai people did not know K Water. There has been publicized by Thai government on K Water, that it is professional, with experiences, which is one-sided information. However, in late June, a Korea environmental organization was invited by Thai civil society groups, and a group of Thai media, to share experiences, which is a part of project accountability under democratic society.

K Water Company was selected to implement the projects on flood diversion channel (or floodway) covering almost 300 kilometer-length in Thailand’s seven provinces, and flood retention area (known as monkey’s cheeks) for over a million rai of land. The projects will inevitably create impacts on environment and local communities. Thus, transparency, comprehensive impacts assessment and mitigation measure, need to be ensured at the early stage of the project.
We would like to inform you that, any company or state agency implement such a project will be monitored to ensure accountability in similar manner.

Recently, when the information from the Korean environmental organization was publicized, there have been reactions from K Water in unproductive ways, such as warning on using of legal measure, instead of disclosing more information to the public through media to create understanding and to gain public support. In addition, there has been an attempt, in unfriendly ways, from K Water to seek for event organizers who invited the Korean environmental organization.
Korean and Thai relationship has flourished for decades, and has been widely recognized in both Thai and Korean society. Nevertheless, current behavior of K Water is making a number on Thai people skeptical, particularly on concealment of information, which is the starting point of ambiguity, lacking of transparency. To date, people living in project-affected provinces have not been informed. They are worried that they might lose their houses and farm lands. As mentioned above, Thai society is agricultural. Most of our river basins are still rich, with natural resources, on which communities depend.

We do not know why K Water was selected to implement the water project. Our concern is friendship between people of two countries which has performed well. We hope that Korean government and Korean people will understand the reason why Thai people are protecting our natural resources, and will join us in promoting public participation.

Yours sincerely,            

  1. Tha Chin River Council
  2. Thai Water Partnership
  3. The Northern River Basins Network
  4. Mekong-Lanna Natural Resources and Cultural Conservation Network
  5. Orpha-ya Institute, Mae Chame, Chiang Mai
  6. Mekong Community Organization Council in 7 Northeastern Provinces
  7. Living River Siam
  8. Klong Chompoo Bain Conservation Network
  9. Ratsadorn Rakpa Group, Sa-eib Sub-district, Yom Basin, Prae Province
  10. Takonyom Group, Yom Basin, Prae Province
  11. Khan Basin Network, Chiang Mai

CC        South Korean Ambassador
            People of South Korea             


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Living River Siam Association  138 Moo 4, Suthep, Muang, Chiang Mai, 50200   Thailand
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