When a reporter approached a vendor this week and asked for her views on the Bangkok governor election, she responded by saying she wasn't expecting anything to change and was fed up with the topic. While such feelings are understandable given the lack of charisma and exaggerated policy platforms of most of the candidates, eligible voters must turn out in force at the polls tomorrow if there is to be a meaningful result. Yes, it can be a tough choice for those not voting along party lines but democracy has always been about challenge and the issues in municipal elections rarely change.
Futuristic and idealistic schemes involving extensive use of modern technology are all well and good. They provide the "wow" factor in the campaign. But it is the less glamorous issues that usually decide the outcome. These include such down to earth concerns as keeping the traffic flowing, better air quality, control of petty crime, alleviation of poverty in deprived communities, food hygiene at roadside vendor stalls, successful flood prevention measures, increasing the number of parks, improving the quality of municipal schools and health stations, coping with increasing amounts of garbage, preparing for integration into the Asean Economic Community and fixing the footpaths so pedestrians don't sprain their ankles or fall down holes while walking through business, tourist or residential areas.
Grabbing most of the attention have been the two front-runners, Sukhumbhand Paribatra and Pongsapat Pongcharoen, backed by the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties. Independent candidates Sereepisuth Temiyavej, Kosit Suvinijjit and Suharit Siamwalla have also garnered attention. And, while no one has been unfortunate enough to fall in a khlong this time, respect is due independent candidate Sopon Pornchokchai, 72, who swam across the Chao Phraya River to promote his campaign to raise awareness about river conservation.
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