Asian Development Bank

Japan MPs cast doubt over aid: May pull the plug on Klong Dan project

Bangkok Post
January 23, 2001

During a visit to Klong Dan wastewater site yesterday, two Japanese MPs said they will ask their government to review its foreign aid policy to Thailand

Two Japanese MPs will ask their government to review its foreign aid policy to Thailand.

Speaking during a visit to Klong Dan wastewater site yesterday, Toshimasa Yamada, of the opposition Democratic Party, said the Japanese Diet needed to make sure its foreign aid to Thailand is spent wisely.

Last year, Japan contributed US$1 billion to the Official Development Assistance and has been the biggest contributor for the past 10 years.

Japan is also the largest shareholder of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which has been asked to fund 40% of the 30-billion-baht Klong Dan project.

“The Japanese government is prepared to support Thailand for its people’s happiness. If these people are extremely unhappy, there is something wrong,” Mr Yamada said.

There is a possibility the ADB would review the loan package if corruption allegations are substantiated, he said.

Mr Yamada and a lawmaker colleague from the same party, Shun Hayama, visited Klong Dan at the request of local project opponents.

Both MPs met the provincial governor, director-general of Pollution Control Department (PCD) which undertakes the project, and local villagers.

Mr Yamada said the problem was caused by a lack of communication.

He advised that an environmental impact assessment study be redone by a third party and publicised.

He said it was clear the public has no access to information such as the environmental impact study.

He asked the PCD for a definite timeframe when the project’s environmental study would be made available to the public.

Mr Yamada believed the project’s size was too large.

The site was located too far from pollution sources which made the pipe unnecessarily long, a factor which pushed up the cost, he said.

They will meet senators and the National Counter Corruption Commission today and discuss corruption allegations.

In a related development, the PCD would start a public outreach campaign by distributing pamphlets produced in “layman language” to local villagers.

The agency believed its “inexperience” in public relations had triggered local opposition. The pamphlet contains technical details of the project as well as answers to often-asked questions.

The agency remains adamant the project should go forward.

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