BANGKOK — Government leaders and TV personalities on Tuesday are soliciting donations to assist those affected by ongoing floods in the northeast that have claimed at least 30 lives.

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha himself will man the phone during a government charity telethon this evening. Meanwhile former actor Bin Banluerit is leading a separate donation drive that has netted 231 million baht as of this morning, winning praise from netizens who feel the actor is working much faster than the authorities.

Although Bin lashed out yesterday at the government’s slow response to the floods in a viral video, he took a conciliatory tone today and said he is not competing with the government.

“I insist that I don’t have any intent to slight the Prime Minister. I’m doing this with innocent intentions, to help people who are suffering,” Bin said.

Actors Pakorn “Dome” Lum and Bin Banluerit hand out donations to flood victims on Sep. 17, 2019.

He said as many households hit by the flooding as possible will receive 5,000 baht each from the fund.

Other celebrities have voiced their support for Bin, who now works as a rescue worker.

“Some people think water levels are going down, but they’re not. I wanted to help out P’Bin so I’m here,” actor Pakorn “Dome” Lum said. “I’ve seen people with tears in their eyes, people who are paralyzed, flooded and have no grandkids to help them.”

In a related development, a lavish dinner party for the government coalition scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled. Phalang Pracharath Party minister Suriya Juangrungruangkit said he believes the public prefers to see their MPs helping flood victims.

He added that some MPs have been coordinating relief efforts with their constituencies since the floods began.

According to the latest available figures on Monday, 33 people have been killed and 418,000 people in 32 provinces have been affected by the floods. Ubon Ratchathani is among the provinces hardest hit by the disaster.

Prayuth has rejected the accusation that his government took too long to respond to the crisis.

Flood in Trat province on Sep. 16, 2019.

During a speech on Monday, Prayuth asked if the people complaining would prefer to have him in his current status as the prime minister of an elected government, or “the old” him – a possible reference to being a junta leader with absolute power.

“Do you want me like this or the old me?” Prayuth said.

Earlier today, Prayuth donated 100,000 baht from his own pocket to the government’s flood relief fund.

He said the money must be allocated cautiously and in accordance with regulations, adding that different families may receive different amounts of assistance depending on the level of damage afflicted by the flood.

The government’s televised donation drive will start at 7.30pm this evening on Channel 9. Prayuth will be answering phone calls from those wishing to donate.

Donors can also directly transfer money to the PM Office’s Fund to Assist Flood Victims, Government House Branch of Krung Thai Bank, Account Number 067-0-06895-0. Donated money is eligible for income tax deduction.

Story by Asaree Thaitrakulpanich and Pravit Rojanaphruk

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