Yingluck agrees Bangkok race much tighter than expected
With polls suggesting that the Bangkok gubernatorial race is tighter than believed earlier, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said this would be a good opportunity for Pheu Thai candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen to prove his abilities before the March 3 election.Yingluck said the ruling party will adhere to creative campaign tactics by visiting off-the-beaten-track areas, adding that the Thon Buri side of the capital had many prospective voters and Pongsapat needed to woo them.
The prime minister was helping Pongsapat campaign in Chom Thong district, which lies on the Thon Buri side, yesterday morning. She said that campaigning should become more intense in this last week before the election.
As for rumours that the Democrat Party might be engaging in electoral irregularities by moving voters from upcountry to be registered in Bangkok ahead of the poll, Yingluck only said that she wanted the election to be free and fair so the public is not disappointed.
She is also urging the Democrat Party to stop resorting to negative campaigning by highlighting the burning down of buildings in the aftermath of the 2010 crackdown on red-shirt protesters in May 2010.
Yingluck also pushed Pongsapat's selling pitch, saying that if he were elected as governor, coordination between the state government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) would be very smooth.
"This will benefit Bangkokians," she said.
Meanwhile, Pongsapat said he intended to campaign until the very last second before voting starts. As per regulations, candidates have until 6pm on March 2 to campaign. He added that his team was visiting several areas of Bangkok to collect details about the problems they are facing, and if elected, he will tackle these issues right away. "We shall keep our promises and make them happen right away," he promised.
In a related development, Pheu Thai deputy spokesperson Sunisa Lertpakawat said that having a governor from the Democrat Party - which already holds a majority in the Bangkok Council - was "scarier" than having a governor from the ruling party. She said this was because there would be no telling whether the councillors would truly scrutinise the governor if he came from the same party.
Sunisa also said many complaints had been made about the alleged transfer of household registration documents, particularly to three Bangkok districts, namely Phasi Charoen, Bang Khae and Wang Thonglarng.
However, Democrat spokesperson Chavanond Intarakomalsut denied this allegation and challenged the Pheu Thai Party to produce proof, warning of legal action against anyone suspected of electoral manipulation.
Chavanond said that these last few days before the election would be the perfect time for Bangkokians to decide whom they want as governor, adding that incumbent Sukhumbhand Paribatra had now become a target for a smear campaign by his rivals.