Southeast Asia seeks better disaster response
A leader in the region says recent disasters bring opportunities
WAILEA, Maui » A leader of a 10-nation organization in Southeast Asia said the region is improving its response to disasters as a result of recent calamities.
But Ong Keng Yong, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said at a Maui conference that many countries in the area still need to develop their technological savvy.
Ong said the disasters have prompted Southeast Asian leaders to work more collaboratively in improving preparedness and risk assessment.
"Out of every crisis we have opportunity," Ong said.
ASEAN members include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Ong was the keynote speaker at a forum titled "Mega Disasters -- A Global 'Tipping Point' in Natural Disaster Policy, Planning and Development," presented by the Maui-based Pacific Disaster Center.
One of the collaborations involves the United States and Thailand developing an early-warning system for tsunamis by placing high-technology buoys in the Indian Ocean.
Stanley Goosby, chief scientist for the Pacific Disaster Center, said various details are being worked out with the Thai government, such as coordinating the placement of early-warning buoys by other nations.
Ray Shirkhodai, the Pacific Disaster Center's chief operating officer, said with the growth of population, nations are witnessing disasters affecting more people.
The Thai government has sought to strengthen its disaster warning system since the Sumatra-Andaman Islands earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004.
The disaster claimed more than 200,000 lives, including the deaths of 7,500 people along the coast of southern Thailand.