The government is stepping up efforts to help several thousand flood victims with a televised charity program.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will on Tuesday night join the campaign by personally receiving donations during a TV program broadcast on Mcot 30 (Channel 9), from 7.30pm to 10pm. The proceeds will go to the Prime Minister’s Office relief fund, the focus of donations to help flood victims this year.
The government’s urgent effort to raise funds came after celebrated actor and volunteer rescue worker Bin Bunluerit, 57, broadcast the plight of Ubon Ratchathani residents on Facebook at 3pm on Saturday along with his personal bank account number for people to make donations. By Monday, donations to the account had reached 130 million baht. He himself said he chipped in 1 million baht to the cause.
“At first, we planned to give 1,000 baht to each affected household. But since the donations were higher than anticipated, we’ll double the amount,” he told a TV program on Monday.
Bin said he planned to raise 12-13 million baht for the 12,500 Ubon Ratchathani households affected. “I thought it would be around 5-6 million but as donations have poured in, we will double that amount.”
He pledged to send the money to the worst-hit areas for maximum impact.
“When I first arrived, I brought with me 200,000 baht, which I spent on daily necessities, fuel and pet food. I gave elderly people 1,000-2,000 baht each. They desperately need money to buy what they need, rather than dry food or other stuff.”
Bin said that at first, he thought about flying back to Bangkok to withdraw his own money to give to victims. “The first village I visited had 100-300 households and I thought I could use my own money to give them 1,000 baht each.”
The state fundraising campaign comes as key political parties launched separate activities to help flood victims. Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit kicked off his online #SaveUbon campaign to help Ubon Ratchathani villagers while the Pheu Thai Party sent a relief caravan of vehicles.
Tewan Liptapallop, Prime Minister’s Office minister, said: “We already have 790 million baht in the fund, which the donations will bolster.”
Thirty-two people have died and up to 400,000 households inundated in flooding that has ravaged 32 provinces since late August, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
Ubon Ratchathani is worst-afflicted province due to the swollen Moon and Chi rivers which merge in its Warin Chamrap district.
Gen Prayut was kept busy on Monday responding to the criticism at a seminar on national strategy and an award-giving ceremony. He urged critics to check what he and officials had done, pointing to government plans to compensate farmers for damaged crops and farmland.