Bangkokians to decide their governor on Oct 5th

29 09 2008

Since I have moved out of Bangkok two years ago, the Bangkok Governor race did not attract much of my attention this year. Yet, I feel it is necessary to look into candidate’s profiles and compare policies offered by each candidate, whoever is elected will have a great impact on the city as a whole and on those who have to commune back and forth to Bangkok.

Although the registered number of people residing in Bangkok is 5.7 million, more than 10 million people live in Bangkok unofficially. In the upcoming city election, there are 16 registered candidates. Yet, only five of them are actively campaigning for votes plus one candidate who is the most confident with no campaign and policy.

The five active candidates include Dr. Kriengsak Charoenwogsak, well known as Dr. Dan Can Do and who is a former Democrat MP running as an independent; Ms. Leena, a candidate in the last election who claims to fight for women and the urban poor; Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit, a former massage parlour owner; Mr. Prapas† Chongsa-nguan, a former governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) running for the People Power party; and Mr. Apirak Kosayodhin, the former governor seeking re-election under the Democrat Party banner. Plus Mrs. Thonranee Rittheethammarong who said King Rama V encouraged her in her dream to contest in the election. She needs no campaign and she was sure to win.

Opinion surveys conducted by the top two polling agencies showed that Mr. Apirak is leading his opponents by a large margin. Bangkok poll, by Bangkok University, also showed that Mr Apirak had the most support of 39.6% followed by Mr. Chuwit 11.3% Dr. Kriengsak 7.2% and Mr Prapas 3.5%. ABAC poll of Assumption University found Apirak leading 45.9% followed by Chuwit 15.1% Dr. Kriengsak 9.6% and Prapas 4.4%.

After the release of the survey findings which showed Mr Apirak in a clear lead, Apirak’s main rivals directing their campaigns at criticising the former governor’s performance during his four years in office.

Thonranee said she dreamt of King Rama V who asked her to contest in the election as such no campaign or strategy is needed to win in the election. She usually put on long dress fwith full option of jewellry when go for sport activity like playing badminton. Unlike other who like to be looked upon like down to earth she calls herself Khun (Madam) Thoranee. It might look funny and good for a laugh but surely she has zero chance to win.

Chuwit who won 334,168 votes in the 2004 election about one third of Apirak’s 911,441 votes is focusing on “telling people” about the ex-governor’s “failed projects”. He is famous for using offensive strategy and is liked by young voters. He believes he is second only to Apirak in this local election.

Prapas has also resorted to more or less the same strategy as Chuwit. His campaign has focused on telling voters Apirak did nothing to improve Bangkok and his biggest achievement during four years in office was projecting his good image through PR opportunities. Perhaps Prapas does not realise the importance of image and publicity of a candidate. He himself has started campaign quite late awaiting for approval from the top leaders of the People Power Party whose main concern lies at the national level rather than at the local. He has asked for the extension of the campaign period but failed. This shows that† he has no confident of winning without backing of PPP.

Dr. Kriengsak, an academic turned politician, has started his campaign months before the election date was announced. He has tried to win the heart of Bangkokians by introducing a war against rodents and cockroaches. He is also promising to make Bangkok more medern to get more votes from young people. These include introducing Wi Max, a high speed internet system, in Bangkok. The policy is seen as a challenge to Apirak’s Green Bangkok Wi Fi policy to enable Bangkok residents to get on the internet at 15,000 spots in the city when he was in charge. It seems that he has tried to offer something Bangkok residents would want, however I see only limited chances of winning for him. He said he does not believe in polling yet he has conducted his own poll. His policies to woo young voters do not seem to work well too. Those young people are likely to pour votes to Chuwit instead of Dr. Dan as they do not known his and they are mused with the slogan Dr. Dan Can Do. However, he can still use this as an opportunity to get to know people in Bangkok for his future aim either in the next general election and for the senate.

Leena Jung has focused her campaign on an 88-baht intelligent transport card which can be used for all modes of transportation in Bangkok. This is a direct challenge to Apirak’s policy to introduce one ticket for all transport services in Bangkok in his previous election campaign, a policy which has not materialised.

Apirak is countering his political rivals by highlighting his experience during four years as Bangkok Governor as a strong point in his campaign. Unlike his opponents, he does not focus on new projects but on the continuity of the projects he introduced during the past four years.

It is difficult to predict how the Bangkokians will vote on the polling day. In ABAC Poll, it showed that there is about 22% of people who are not yet decided which candidate they are going to vote for. The silent voters will play an important part in the election results on October 5th. Yet, I am to predict I would say that Apirak will surely win with a smart majority. Chuwit will also gain more votes from last time. His popularity has increased after he departed from Chatthai Party. With the hatred feeling towards PPP still strong in the capital, it is very unlikely for Prapas’s surprise win over Apirak.

The majority of Bangkokians is likely to vote for Democrat Party of which Apirak sits as a Deputy head. We often look at the city election as the battle between Democrat and Thai Rak Thai, now People’s Power Party. Looking at the local election this way, it is not difficult to predict the end result.



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