The people of Thailand are being let down by their leaders during the ongoing flood disaster. Much criticism is being directed at Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for the government's handling of the crisis, but she cannot be held solely responsible.

Self-serving politicians around the flood-affected provinces must also stand up and shoulder their fair share of the blame for allowing politics to make an unwelcome entry into a human and economic tragedy.

Not only has the disaster been exacerbated by outrageous contradictory and often confusing statements by local and national elected officials, but the flow of water from north to south has been hindered by politics, as leaders try to protect their patch at the expense of national interest. Flood gates have remained closed when they should have been opened and vice versa.

It's a concern when the system means the prime minister has to negotiate with the governor of Bangkok before he will co-operate with the government's plans. That governor just happens to be a member of the opposition Democrat Party.

The government has resisted calls to declare a state of emergency for fear it could panic residents and scare off foreign investors and tourists. But what everyone needed was leadership and clear communication. Perhaps a state of emergency would have helped provide those things.

There needs to be change if the country is to avoid a repeat performance from people who have been elected to lead.