Autonomy is one thing, privilege another

Autonomy is one thing, privilege another

Dr. Chaiyan Rajchagool 

Since its inception and it metamorphosis over many decades the presently known as ‘Bangkok Metropolitan Authority' (BMA) had always been regarded as an organization "of the Bangkokians, by the Bangkokians and for the Bangkokians". Though its parasitic characteristics have constantly been subjected to severe criticism, its independent status had been generally accepted. It is supposed to run the internal affairs of Bangkok, and it had not much to do with the rest of the country. This picture was changed abruptly and totally as a result of the unprecedented flood in Central Thailand in 2011.
The relationship between the urban Bangkok setting and its administrative structure has since then been called into question. In terms of hierarchical bureaucracy, BMA is under the Ministry of Interior. But owing to its gigantic size and its enormous budget, BMA Governor can look even more important than Interior Minister. During the flood crisis, the central government and BMA had different strategies to cope with the flood. The former tried to pursue its policy with the overall interest in mind, whereas the latter's policy was confined within the scope of inner Bangkok. BMA was seen as an entity to serve principally the wealthy at all cost, even at the expense of the rest of the country. Its self-centred outlook has been camouflaged by the facts that the Bangkok public is more vocal, and its perspective receives more of the media coverage.
This paper is to discuss the rationality and irrationality of the organization of a city, with Bangkok in mind. To what extent a city administration is entitled to enjoy its autonomy. What functions of the city organization are to be a part of the regional and national command? The expensive experiences of the catastrophe in Central Thailand in 2011 have offered a great deal of lessons that other countries and cities could learn from.
Dr. Chaiyan Rajchagool
Faculty of Political Science
Ubon Ratchathani University
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand