The opposition Democrat Party yesterday played its trump card by asking people in Bangkok not to vote for independent candidates – so their votes would not be “wasted” in next Sunday’s city (March 3) governor’s election.
The Democrats also stressed their candidate’s honesty and integrity.
The move came after the latest public opinion polls showed the party’s candidate, former Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, was still trailing behind the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s Pongsapat Pongcharoen, with the margin ranging from less than one percentage point to more than 10 per cent.
Just a week before Bangkokians go to vote, the Democrats yesterday held their major election campaign event entitled “Some Truths the Bangkokians Have to Know” at the Lan Kon Muang ground next to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration headquarters.
Sukhumbhand and other Democrats wore T-shirts with the message, “Honest, Not Corrupt”, to stress the party’s platform.
Senior Democrat figures, including former party leader Chuan Leekpai and deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij, reminded Bangkok voters of the political unrest of 2010 and the “burning of the city”.
The unrest and riots, which resulted in 91 deaths, took place during 10 weeks of street protests from March till May 2010 by the red shirts, whose leaders include politicians from the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
Chuan, addressing the party’s supporters on stage, said he believed Bangkok voters were smart enough to choose the right person to run their city.
“Let’s see if people want the people responsible for burning the city. I believe that Bangkok people are smart enough,” said Chuan, who is a former prime minister.
He also urged voters to support the party that protects the country’s interest and rule of law.
Korn said: “The burning of the city is something they cannot deny responsibility. They think Bangkok residents have forgotten about it. We must not forget or they will take Bangkok hostage again.
“If you vote for their candidate, they will smirk at you for being forgetful so easily,” he said.
Deputy Democrat leader Jurin Laksanavisit called on the Bangkok voters to consider the fact that their votes for independent candidates could result in the Democrat candidate losing the election.
“Although you may not like Sukhumbhand, please think of the Democrat Party. You may not favour the Democrat Party but please think of Sukhumbhand if you don’t want to vote for the Pheu Thai candidate,” he said.
“If you vote for an independent candidate, your vote will be wasted because the Democrat will lose and [the rival candidate] will win,” said Jurin, who is also the opposition chief whip.
According to some reports, social critic Sulak Sivaraksa urged Bangkok voters to select “the lesser evil” in the upcoming election. In his Facebook message, he noted that the election would be a contest between Pheu Thai and the Democrats. Although Sukhumbhand and the Democrats were not very good, he thought they deserved support.
An independent candidate, Suharit Siamwalla, yesterday said the Democrats should focus on policies rather than focusing on the political conflict.
“Society should question why the big party, which has so many famous people, has to campaign this way. I don’t want us to remain mired in the cycle of conflict,” he said.
Yesterday morning, the Democrats held a “Gathering of Blue-Hearted People Who Love Bangkok” at the Royal Plaza. Fifty vehicles were released to campaign in all the 50 districts of Bangkok.
The event was presided over by party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and was also attended by many senior party figures and Democrat supporters.
Abhisit said Sukhumbhand was always on the side of Bangkok residents when the city was struck by the political unrest in 2010 and the flood crisis in 2011.