Rarely does a day pass without the emergence of some new poll revealing how candidates in the race for Bangkok governor are doing. The value of these opinion surveys is debatable given the relatively low sampling factor, the month still to go before the election and the astonishingly high proportion of respondents who claim to be "undecided". This figure is often as large as 48%.
Quality of life issues determine the outcome of most campaigns and this one will be no exception. Visiting a market and cooking stir-fried noodles for a few carefully chosen bystanders will make for a quickly-forgotten photo op. But brandishing a cabbage priced at 31 baht and berating vegetable vendors for charging so much will grab headlines and win public acclaim from those annoyed by unreasonable increases in the cost of living. Many of these will suspect profiteering in the wake of the minimum wage increase and think they have a champion. Experienced politicians know this.
This is the stage in the campaign when voters should begin to look at what some of the candidates for governor are doing, not just at what they are saying. Deserving of particular attention are those candidates who publicly vow to get rid of irritants plaguing the life of those living in the capital and then contradict themselves by sending out painfully noisy sound trucks to roam the streets and tell them so. They appear oblivious to the fact that noise pollution is endemic in Bangkok and getting worse. It has its roots in decades of selfish neglect, weak municipal ordinances and poor enforcement.
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