It could have been a disaster. Instead, it was just a national embarrassment. Earlier this week the world was treated to video (such as the one above) and photographs of naval colour parties and bands marching through ankle-deep, putrid, effluent saturated flood waters in Pattaya.
Led by the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), the occasion was an International Fleet Review as part of Asean’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
While most of the action was to take place at sea, the excitement of the occassion was brought ashore with an International City Parade featuring contingents from 25 foreign naval vessels representing 18 foreign navies, with 18 foreign navy chiefs and representatives from 22 others watching on.
For the RTN hosting the event was a great honour and many hours of planning and rehearsals were conducted to ensure a spectacle worthy of the occasion. What the Admirals hadn’t counted on was their carefully laid plans being torpedoed by years of ineptitude and mismanagement by Pattaya City Council’s inability to stop the city from suffering widespread flooding whenever someones’ bathtub overflows.
A problem for at least the past eight years, Pattaya’s main beach road was once again awash with filthy, polluted rain run-off on the morning of the grand parade, jeopardising the biggest naval event of the year for the region.
Ignoring the dangers of marching a path you can’t see, let alone the health risks associated in doing so through overflowing cesspit water — or the not inconsiderable problem of wet cuffed pants gradually inching their way down as you march while blowing a tuba or trumpet — the parade got underway to the delight of residents, tourists, and a bevy of visiting dignitaries.
Rather then ending in embarrassment, the men and women of Asean’s navies held their heads high, played their music in tune, and kept their step as best as possible given the conditions, refusing to allow anything remove the shine from the historic occasion.
One can only hope that there was a plentiful supply of disinfectant on hand for their feet when they had finished, though it is unlikely such was made available to the tourists and residents forced again to wade through filthy Pattaya flood water to get to the beach… where the untreated filth is discharged.
While for the visiting navies and the RTN the day was a huge success, for Pattaya City Council it was an embarrassment viewed by a global audience.
Feature video kathy omilig
- Pattaya dressing up for international fleet event (Bangkok Post)
- Prawit chairs opening of International Fleet Review 2017 (Bangkok Post)
- Asean navies focus on marine environment (The Nation)