Low-profile candidates say they have the public ear
With many expecting the Bangkok election to become a two-horse race, lesser-known and independent candidates face the question of whether they have any chance of winning.Since the registration for Bangkok governor candidates almost a month ago, only well known entrants such as Pongsapat Pongcharoen, Sukhumbhand Paribatra, Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, Suharit Siamwalla and Kosit Suwinijjit have been seen on free TV and mainstream media. Few spaces were left for independent candidates.
"I cannot become discouraged and think I will lose, no matter what. If you do, then you will always lose. Chuan Leekpai was a temple boy. If he can become a prime minister, why can't I [become Bangkok gover?nor]?" Jumrus Intumar, candidate No 15, asked.
The thin, grey-haired Jumrus admits, however, that the mass media have mostly ignored him, despite the fact he leads the Thai Por Piang political party (Thai Sufficiency Party). The party attracted over 49,122 party-list votes in the last general election, outstripping even the New Politics Party, which broke away from the yel?low-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).
The 57-year-old lawyer and small business owner said he's not aware if any of the four major pollsters have ever included his name in a survey.
Then there is the Bt49-million campaign budget allowed by the Election Commission (EC).
Jumrus said this is simply unfair to independent candidates who are not billionaires. Though not a pauper, Jumrus said he could not afford to spend more than a few hundred thousand baht on the campaign.
"I told the EC to rethink the issue. Politics has become a game for the rich - on investment. That's why problems of ordinary folk are not addressed. So how can it be democratic?"
He said his party promotes His Majesty the King's sufficiency economy principle and is counting on that as a selling point, particularly among poor Bangkokians. Jumrus' only campaign vehicle, a grey pickup truck, flies His Majesty's yellow royal standard.
Waranchai Chokechana, candidate No 2, self-proclaimed the most applied candidate for the governor's election, said his strategy is to visit crowded communities such as the Victory Monument and Banglamphu. And he always uses a bicycle or walks.
Waranchai said he is at a disadvantage from other candidates because he has no election banners and his name is not on any poll. But he has tried to present his policies at several debate events. Broadcast debates were the best channels to communicate his policies.
Metta Temchamnarn, candidate No 3, said his opening strategy was to visit grassroots people because he aimed to solve their problems and in the last 10 days before election day he would visit middle-class voters.
"This time people have been giving me warm support, [something] I never thought I would get, " Metta said.
He said he didn't care if he couldn't appear in the mainstream media as peoples' support was so friendly. He believed he would be elected because the two major parties always argued with each other, leaving people bored and turning to him instead.
Sanhaphot Suksrimuang, candidate No 6, set up www.sanhaphot.com to introduce himself to voters. He said it was the best way to make him known to the public quickly as the mainstream media ignored him. In the first week after candidate registration, he sent cars with loud speakers to tell people about him. Then he visited markets with his team to meet voters. He said if the turnout reached 75 per cent he could get up to 1.4 million votes as city folk were bored with divided politics.
Jongjit Hiranlarp, candidate No 12, said her election campaign strategy was to go to crowded communities as she cannot afford election banners. As an academic, she often visits education institutes to campaign and let them know she is a candidate.