Voter turnout 'will be deciding factor'
Pheu Thai director confident as Pongsapat enters final straitPheu Thai Party's election director Phumtham Wechayachai spent most of his interview with The Nation yesterday either grinning or bursting into fits of laughter.
With just four days to go before the Bangkok governor election, the only phrases Phumtham kept repeating was he wanted the turnout to be huge and that he expected the winning candidate to win at least a million votes. However, he did not point to an obvious victory for his party's candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen.
"We have visited several places and got very good feedback from people. It has given us a lot of moral support. Now we only need one thing - that everyone comes out to vote. We believe that will
be the deciding factor between the two parties [Pheu Thai and Democrat]," he said.
The Democrat Party's candidate Sukhumbhand Paribatra won the 2009 election with about 930,000 votes against Pheu Thai's Yuranan Pamornmontri's 610,000, while independent candidates got about 510,000 votes in total.
Phumtham said his party did not need to do anything special in the last few days before the election because it had followed well-planned steps.
"Initially, we spent a lot of time explaining the 'seamless' strategy about Bangkok management and how it does not mean taking
over the country and avoiding examination. Later, we explained our policies that stress the connection between networks, Pongsapat and Pheu Thai Party so we can walk the walk and do what we have promised," he said.
Pongsapat's final campaign, "Change the City, Change the Life: Bangkok Makeover", was launched yesterday to wrap up the policies already presented as well as tell Bangkokians how their lives can become better from using the existing resources, he said.
"Today, we believe we have a good chance [of winning the election]. People came out of their shop houses to wave to [Prime Minister] Yingluck [Shinawatra] and Pongsapat. People driving all kinds of cars, from Mercedes to ordinary sedans, blew their horns and waved to greet us."
He said that people in luxury cars, or owners of "houses with compounds" (the middle and upper-middle class), were obviously joining those who use public transport to support Pheu Thai.
Pongsapat had visited almost all of the Bangkok shopping malls, and the visits were natural and easy.
Several times in the interview, Phumtham also spoke excitedly about how people welcomed Yingluck when she joined Pongsapat's campaign, adding very quickly that the party and the PM had taken great care not to violate any laws. He said Yingluck joined the campaign out of office hours and had done so as a "member of the Pheu Thai Party", not prime minister.
Phumtham also tried to highlight Pongsapat's qualities.
"Like Yingluck, Pongsapat is a good coordinator who can seek cooperation [from different parts of society]. He is good at making compromises, which makes him perfect for the job," he said, adding that Pongsapat followed Yingluck's belief to always stay positive.
When asked whether the "seamless" strategy linking the state government with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration would work if the governor did not come from Pheu Thai, Phumtham said similar ideas and priorities would make the work smoother.
He said it was more important to promote proper management and link up with other mechanisms in society because the BMA actually had limited funding and authority.
Meanwhile, the party will unveil its "smiley" campaign at Ratchaprasong intersection tomorrow, which will feature nine small cars sporting the number 9 - Pongsapat's candidacy number.
These vehicles will join a caravan of about 100 cars on Saturday and spread to 50 districts of Bangkok. Yingluck will join the caravan at the Royal Plaza and head for Victory Monument.
"These cartoon cars are meant to show that elections are not a throat-cutting business, but is a relaxing one," he said.
Previous ballot figures
Voter-turnout figures for the five previous Bangkok governor elections (1996 - 2009)
June 2, 1996: 43.5 per cent
July 23, 2000: 59 per cent
August 2004: 62.5 per cent
October 5, 2008: 54 per cent
January 11, 2009: 51 per cent