"Our belief in the Swedish model of government is too big. We become paralyzed, don't dare do anything on our own initiative, just wait for orders from above."
Carl Michael Bergman i SvD 2/12 2005, after having read the report of the Disaster Commission.
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Sweden and the Tsunami - Evaluation and Proposals
Summary of the main report from
The Swedish Tsunami Commission (SOU 2005:104)
Exploatera inte tsunamin!
Göran Greider, Dala-Demokraten
Mer lugn efter mediestormen!
Göran Greider, Metro 2005-12-05
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Hard Rain No 5 December 4, 2005|
|The Tsunami debate - a low mark in Swedish domestic politics|
To let individuals stand trial for a natural disaster on the other side of the earth is just too simple. It is unworthy to use the personal grief of human beings in this way.
In the morning of December 26 2004, 01.58 Swedish time, the largest earthquake ever occurred. It measured 9,3 on the Richter scale. The quake set off a tsunami of biblical format that swept the beaches of south east Asia. 179 237 persons lost their lives and 37 604 are still missing. 525 dead Swedes have been identified, 18 are missing.
"The catastrophe in southeast Asia led to physical and mental suffering, death and other consequences in nobody's power to prevent", the Tsunami Commission wrote in its final report (p. 255). The commission points to shortcomings in the handling of the situation by the proper government agencies and finds that certain consequences could have been avoided "with better planning and direct action". The direct result of the shortcomings was the fact that "contributions both in the region and at home in Sweden were too late".
The largest problem was the lack of a functioning crisis management at government level, the chairman of the commission, Johan Hirschfeldt, pointed out in his presentation on December 1. There was no adequate organization for collection, preparation and analysis of the information and the routines for decision-making were not adapted for serious crises.
These conclusions are serious enough and the proposals from the commission are important contributions for improvements. The central proposal is a special department for crises within the Government Offices with strategic and operational tasks. The lack of such a department today, in spite of earlier proposals, has been a surprise to many people.
The commission also makes an attempt to enlighten the sad "environment for decision making" within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. How could it be possible for a compassionate and energetic human being to use her skills if she is told not become "hysterical" when she wants to make an extra effort? This certainly makes material for a thorough cleaning up in the tracks of the tsunami.
The general debate has of course, as expected, capsized. The Prime Minister, certain other Ministers and civil servants are scorned and there are calls for resignation. The newspapers sell extra copies on populist polls over who is to be sacked. The conservative alliance shouts about resignations, but mumble cowardly in their beards when it comes to a non-confidence vote in Parliament.
The hunt is on, and with arguments at the same low level as the months directly after the tsunami. And to let individuals stand trial for a natural disaster on the other side of the earth is just too simple. It is unworthy to use the personal grief of human beings in this way. One should wish that certain politicians pulled themselves together and joined forces with "all the good powers" trying to prevent the damages from the next large disaster. It will come …