Campaigning fires up as tight election looms
Democrats raised the 'burning of the city' in 2010 because Abhisit fears for his job, Pheu Thai says; fears of dirty tricksThe ruling Pheu Thai Party and opposition Democrat camp are making an all-out effort, including bids to discredit their opponents, to win votes in the week leading up to the March 3 Bangkok governor election, which has become an increasingly tight race.
Pheu Thai chairman Chaturon Chaisang criticised the Democrat Party for raising sensitive issues - accusing their rivals of "setting fire to the city" - referring to the political violence in 2010 - to gain support from voters.
"This is a national political issue that has nothing to do with the well-being of Bangkok residents, but the Democrats and party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva have highlighted this point in the hope of discrediting us," Chaturon said. "Abhisit fears that he might be removed as party leader if MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra fails to win re-election."
Former Democrat leader Bhichai Rattakul said earlier that Abhisit had failed to seek senior party members' help with the Bangkok election campaign, and that he should step down if Sukhumbhand is defeated.
But party election director Ongart Klampaiboon expressed confidence that Sukhumbhand would finally take a lead in the governor race, as his job approval rating had improved as the election draws near.
He said the party would launch more campaigns including new billboards listing Sukhumbhand's "successes" in making Bangkok the world number one tourism city, and outlining the policies he will implement immediately if he wins re-election.
Ongart said Abhisit and Sukhumbhand would make personal appeals to the public by issuing open letters with messages they believe will see Bangkok voters throw their support behind the party's candidate. He also warned the Election Commission (EC) to ensure a clean and fair poll by preventing dirty tactics in the run-up to the election.
Democrat deputy spokesman Nat Bantadtan urged the police to strictly enforce laws against illegal gambling on the governor race.
He said reports were rife that punters, including online gamblers, have offered Bt500 for every Bt100 to those who bet on candidate No 9 - Pheu Thai's Pongsapat Pongcharoen - as the winner.
He also warned the police to crack down on offenders who destroy election billboards or post opposing messages on candidates' posters.
Nat urged the EC and police to check polling centres in places such as Lam Sali and Lat Phrao 101, which have reported lists of eligible voters being removed from their boards. He suspected those who removed the lists had ill intentions towards certain candidates.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit, meanwhile, said the party had had complaints from residents in Pasi Charoen, Bang Khae and Wang Thonglang districts that names of other people had appeared on their house registration data.
They suspected the irregularity was attempted election fraud.
He said residents could not do anything about it because under the election law they can only issue complaints 10 days before the election, which takes place on Sunday.