Thai Deputy Premier Calls For Asia Disaster Relief Framework

May 22, 2008

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suwit Khunkitti proposed Thursday in Tokyo that Asian countries "consider establishing a network of standby arrangements for disaster relief operations" to prepare for natural disasters of the type that have recently struck Myanmar and China.

Such arrangements should be kept "at the ready for whenever and wherever there is an emergency," he said in a keynote address at The Future of Asia forum organized by Nikkei Inc.

Suwit said, "Asia should seek to do more" in addressing global problems, especially such immediate challenges as "natural disasters, global energy and food security."

He said Asia has recently been hit by a series of devastating natural disasters, including the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China, claiming "hundreds of thousands of lives and affecting the livelihoods -- the very human security -- of countless others."

Suwit said that under the proposed multinational arrangement, countries should share "checklists for relief operation supplies and equipment."

The deputy premier also called on Asian nations to actively seek solutions to such problems as soaring prices of food and energy, which directly affect the livelihoods of people in the region. He specifically called for intensified efforts to explore alternative and renewable energy sources as well as greater investment in agricultural infrastructure.

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.