Saturday, October 04, 2008

Simply spoilt for choice

Thai Takes

WITH seven newsworthy contenders and nine others making up the numbers, Bangkok folk have their choice cut out. Who will you vote for in the Bangkok governor election?

1) Leena Jungjanja

The heavily made-up candidate’s publicity stunt (to highlight the plight of Bangkok folk who have to bathe in a canal because they do not have any access to tap water) turned ugly when her campaign manager Thirasak Sitanont drowned.

On Sept 25, while the publicity-hungry woman was showing journalists the rashes she got from dipping in the filthy water, Thirasak — who was swimming in the canal — started waving and crying for help.

“But we thought he was pretending, and he was far away from us, posing for TV crews,” the sobbing drama queen related.

It was not the first water-related disaster for the businesswoman who sells beauty products such as pink nipple nourishing cream and stretch mark remover.

A day earlier she fell into a polluted canal near Pratunam Pier while campaigning.

2) Chuvit Kamolvisit

In 2004, the massage parlour king plunged into politics (contesting in the 2004 Bangkok governor election) after going public about having to repeatedly bribe hundreds of police officers in order to protect his business.

He has quit the “flesh trade” to be a politician who can even outdo Leena in terms of publicity antics, especially with his famous trademark “angry face” billboards.

On Thursday, angry as a TV anchorman described him as “unmanly,” the macho politician punched the interviewer in the ear and then stomped on him.

Chuvit’s punchline now is: “I’m crazy enough to hit a TV news host three days before the Bangkok governor election, so I hope you will be crazy enough to vote for me.”

3) Apirak Kosayodhin

The Democrat Party candidate is the incumbent governor.

“Can anyone explain why Apirak is enjoying a commanding lead in polls?” Pravit Rojanaphruk of The Nation asked on Thursday.

“Is it his devilish good looks or is it because Bangkokians are incapable of appraising Apirak’s work or lack thereof over the past four years?”

Pravit criticised Apirak’s four-year performance as governor, saying: “Bangkok continues to be a polluted, traffic-choked capital.

“All attempts to turn it green have been superficial, involving either expensive billboards paid for by taxpayers proclaiming the great plans or small pots of foliage at bus stops and Skytrain pillars that will only become a reason to call for more funds.”

4) Prapat Chongsanguan

If you love the People’s Power Party, which is pro-Thaksin Shinawatra, then vote for Prapat, who is the party’s afterthought candidate.

He unexpectedly quit his 400,000 baht (RM40,500) a month job as Mass Rapid Transit Authority governor to contest for Bangkok governor, who is paid about 60,000 baht (RM6,078) a month.

It seems the political newcomer’s decision was prompted by an order from Thaksin, who skipped bail to London in August to avoid a corruption trial.

5) Kriengsak Charoenwongsak

The intellectual (he has degrees from Harvard University and University of Oxford) announced that if he were elected governor, he would declare war against cockroaches and rats in Bangkok.

“The population of rats and cockroaches is 20 times the number of Bangkokians, and if we don’t deal with it tourists will not visit this city,” he declared.

Kriengsak slammed Apirak for putting up a billboard, which announced Bangkok winning Travel + Leisure magazine’s award as the World’s Best City 2008.

He said the Mercer Consulting 2008 survey, which is based on quality of life, ranked Bangkok 109th (down from 102nd in 2004) due largely to the pollution in the city.

The former Democrat MP vowed to put the City of Angels in the top 20 of the world’s best cities list by 2020.

6) Thoranee Rittheethammarong

The wife of a former Thai ambassador is contesting because “a voice from above” told her to do so.

She’s not campaigning, as “if the heaven wants me to win, then I’ll win.”

7) Warawoot Tharnungkorn

If elected, the co-leader of the pro-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship plans to keep Bangkok free of military coups.

8) One of the other nine obscure candidates.

Tomorrow, after 30 days of campaigning overshadowed by national politics — two former Bangkok governors then premier Samak Sundaravej and People’s Alliance for Democracy co-leader Chamlong Srimuang are tussling over Government House — voters in Bangkok will go to the polls.

The PR-savvy Apirak is likely to be re-elected.

(Published in The Star on Oct 4, 2008)