Spice added to governor poll

national February 21, 2013 00:00

By Budsarakham Sinlapalavan,

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Real and fake celebrity photos, quotes used to boost profiles

One thing is clear about the upcoming Bangkok gubernatorial election: people are still divided on whom they will vote for – as evidenced when celebrities and high-profile figures are no longer shy and publicly express their political stances.

Well-known Thai Rath newspaper cartoonist Chai Ratchawat showed his support for the Democrat Party’s MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

“I will vote for No 16 to be the Bangkok governor. I don’t favour Sukhumbhand [very much], but I don’t like the Pheu Thai Party,” he said.

Vasit Dejkunjorn, a high-profile retired policeman and Thailand National Artist for 1998, said the Yingluck Shinawatra government is ruling the country with populist policies, so he won’t vote for a candidate from the Pheu Thai Party. He feared a Pheu Thai-supported governor would use the Bangkok budget to serve his own populist policies. “So I will vote for Sukhumbhand,” he said.

Their quotes were posted as opinion leaders and shared in social media.

On the other side, Nuannoi Timkul or “Kru Noi”, who founded the Baan Kru Noi charity home for underprivileged children, showed her support for Pheu Thai candidate No 9 Pongsapat Pongcharoen. She led children to support Pongsapat on Febuary 18 when the candidate visited Rat Burana district to make a campaign speech. She displayed a poster that read, “Love Pongsapat because he helps poor people”.

In 2010, Pongsapat helped Nuannoi to open a bank account and called for donations for pay her debts after she was forced to borrow money from loan sharks to keep her charity home open.

Prachai Leophairatana, chief executive officer of Thai Petrochemical Industry (TPI) said Pongsapat visited the TPI headquarters on February 5.

“I want Pongsapat to develop Bangkok with good policies,” Prachai said, and invited TPI officers to vote for Pongsapat too.

Most supporters of independent candidate Suharit Siamwalla are artists – such as Tul Waitoonkiat, lead singer of Apartment Khunpa, DJ Palm Thitawin Kamjareun and DJ Seed Norasate Mudkong.

Torpong Chantabubpha, or Ball Scrubb, supported Suharit with handmade posters written in Lego saying “Vote17 Suharit” and posted it on Suharit’s Facebook page.

An interesting video on YouTube, “Drift for you, Number 9 Pongsapat”, was produced to support the candidate by “mga1627” and with a “Dirt3” game with Pongsapat pictures on cars.

Mga1627, the video producer who is a writer of books on computer science, said he favours the Pheu Thai Party. He likes Pongsapat and created the video without being hired.

Meanwhile, some celebrities’ pictures were doctored to show they supported candidate No 9. They included Bird Thongchai McIntyre, heartthrob Nadech Kugimiya and boxer Buakaw Por Pramuk.

Bird’s pictures were doctored to show him using a cellphone with candidate No 9 on its screen, which was not genuine. Nadech ‘s photo was also doctored to show him holding Pongsapat’s campaign brochure, making him look like a supporter.

Their fan clubs asked if the celebrities’ photos in social media were real or doctored. Bird yesterday posted on his Facebook page, “The pictures that show I support a candidate are doctored. I don’t support anyone.”

Democrat MP Sirichok Sopha has called on the Bangkok election committee to investigate the doctoring of celebrities’ photos. This behaviour violates the 2002 electoral law for local administrations. “They try to fool people that celebrities they like support some candidates. And voters tend to follow their beloved celebrities,” he said.

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