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Sukhumbhand woos commuters

Former governor offers lower BTS fares, more parking

Former Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra continued his re-election bid for a second day yesterday with promises to set a flat Bt10 fare on the extended Skytrain routes and to build more parking facilities.

Campaigning at the newly opened Pho Nimit BTS station, the Democrat Party's candidate said if he won a second term as Bangkok governor, he would reduce the fare on the extended BTS routes from Bt15 to Bt10. The extensions are from Taksin to Bang Wa on the Silom line and Onnuj to Bearing on the Sukhumvit route.

He also promised to build parking facilities at the Bang Wa, Bearing and Morchit stations to encourage commuters to park their vehicles and ride the Skytrain.

Sukhumbhand further vowed to build smaller mass-transit systems to link to the existing Skytrain and subway to woo more motorists to park and ride, especially those who purchased vehicles under the government's "first car" scheme.

"I am happy with the more than one million people who bought new cars, but the Bangkok governor has the duty to ensure that the new vehicles will not affect the traffic flow, so I have a policy to reduce the fare of the extended BTS services," Sukhumbhand said.

Sukhumbhand has been charged by the Department of Special Investigation with extending the BTS concession contract without due authority.

He warned his rivals not to attack him on the concession case, saying they would face defamation lawsuits.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra held a press conference at the Pheu Thai head office yesterday to officially announce Pol General Pongsapat Pongcharoen as the party's candidate in the gubernatorial poll.

Notably absent from the proceedings was former Thai Rak Thai Party executive Sudarat Keyuraphan. Pheu Thai had earlier said Sudarat would join the press conference, and her absence caused speculation that her relations with party leaders had soured over the party's pick for governor.

However, Pongsapat explained that Sudarat could not join the event because she had gone abroad. He insisted that he had no rift with Sudarat and that he had already received advice from her.

Nevertheless, key members of Pheu Thai offered differing accounts of Sudarat's whereabouts. Secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said Sudarat was on a merit-making trip to India; ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap said she was doing so in Japan; while Bangkok MPs who asked not to be named said they had had dinner with Sudarat on Monday.

Yingluck said she was very excited that Pongsapat, former secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, had agreed to become the Pheu Thai candidate.

Yingluck said Pongsapat had been working closely with the people and was well qualified to become the next Bangkok governor. She said Pongsapat would be able to better coordinate with the government in providing services to Bangkok.

Pongsapat yesterday vowed to carry out a constructive campaign and to refrain from mudslinging.

"If we give the priority to the needs of the people, we will never lose. We will definitely win the election," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi said he hoped Pongsapat would be elected governor so that the central government would be able to better cooperate with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration on flood-prevention measures - an issue over which Plodprasop, as head of the government's anti-flood policies, often clashed with Sukhumbhand.

Banharn Silapa-archa, de facto leader of the Chart Thai Pattana Party, added his support for Pongsapat.

"Chart Thai Pattana as a coalition partner must support the choice of the coalition leader," he said.

Independent candidate Suharit Siamwalla announced on his Facebook page that he would introduce reforms in BMA schools in order to better prepare students for the coming Asean Economic Community.

He said new courses in BMA schools would make parents rest assured that their children would grow up to be smart and competitive with their Southeast Asian neighbours.

Another independent candidate, Pol General Seripisut Temiyavej, also took to Facebook, telling his followers that he is an honest person, and that Bangkok residents should vote for him if they want to see changes.


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