Monday, November 18, 2013

Letter to The Economist


Tôi vừa gửi bức thư dưới đây cho The Economist nhân đọc một bài về bão Haiyan trong đó tác giả cho rằng VN bị thiệt hại nhẹ hơn vì đã chuẩn bị đối phó với bão tốt hơn.


Sir,

Your article on typhoon Haiyan (Worse than hell, Nov 16) had a factual error. There were 18 people died in Vietnam as the result of that typhoon and only five of them died during the preparation, not 14 as you reported. It was largely true that Vietnam was better prepared to head off Haiyan, but the lesser damage was mostly due to the fact that the typhoon changed its course and didn't hit straight to central provinces, the poorest region of the country.

Your praise to the Vietnam's Communist government was also ill founded. Just over a week after Haiyan, 31 people were killed in the central Vietnam when another much weaker monsoon hit. This time, and many times in the past, the calamity was mostly manmade as 15 hydrodams in the region simultaneously released water downstream. The same top-heavy bureaucracies you praised had approved waves of dam building in the last 10 years despite warnings and protests from experts and environmental groups alike. They also failed to restraint dam barons to accumulate water prior to the monsoon season, let alone required them to pay any compensation to the poor victims.

After Haiyan the world had seen the incompetence of the Philippine government. People in Vietnam have been suffering from the same incompetence, but without The Economist's notice.

Yours sincerely,

Giang Le, Brisbane, Australia


Update (19/11): Dưới đây là comment của tôi trên CFR cho một bài tương tự:

According to The Economist (Worse than hell, Nov 16), the Philippines evacuated about 1 million people. Given the geography of the archipelago and the 2 day shorter notice, the Philippine evacuation effort was no less impressive as of the Vietnamese. The aftermath response was a different story, but there was no comparable situation in Vietnam to assess which government was more effective in its relief effort.

Both The Economist's article and this one wrongly attributed the lesser damage in Vietnam to the preparation effort by the government. It might be true that Vietnam was better prepared to head off the typhoon, but the lower dead toll and lesser destruction were mostly due to the fact that the typhoon changed its course and didn't hit straight to central provinces, the poorest region of the country.

Had the typhoon kept its original course, the disaster could have been much worse in Vietnam than what happened in the Philippines. The reason is that more than a dozen of hydrodams in the central region would have to release water downstream at the worse time when a large number of the poor population were hiding in underground trenches. The flooding during the typhoon hightime would have kill a lot more people.

The flooding scenario was not a hypothesis. Just over a week after Haiyan, 31 people were killed in the central Vietnam when a much weaker monsoon hit. This time 15 hydrodams in the region simultaneously released water causing a severe flood in a number of provinces. This was not the first time and definitely not the last.

In the last 10 years the government failed to rein in the number of hydrodam constructions, the central provinces despite warnings and protests from experts and environmental groups alike. Then it failed to restrict water accumulation prior to the storm season and impose a coordinated water release protocol. And then it failed to require compensation from dam owners to the poor victims. In fact, more often than not, it dismisses any link from the hydrodam water release to downstream flooding despite ample evidences.

Those facts greatly contradict your speculation that the centralized and authoritarian government in Vietnam is more capable to overcome corruption and the country has a relative qualified group of civil servants and diplomats. Please wake up!



2 comments:

  1. Chừng nào Việt Nam hết nhân tai thì mới mong phòng ngừa được thiên tai

    ReplyDelete
  2. có lẽ việt nam sẽ khó hết nhân tài lắm.Vì toàn các sếp muốn làm thầy chứ chẳng ai chịu làm thợ cả.

    rac thai

    ReplyDelete