City police pledge clean election

Bangkok police have pledged to work all-out on Sunday to ensure no vote buying, wrongdoing or violence in the capital's governor election.

  • Published: 1/03/2013 at 06:30 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

The Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) will deploy at least 14,000 officers across all 50 districts. As well, 10,000 handheld counters will be distributed to police officers stationed at each polling station to ensure that the number of voters casting ballots matches the total number of votes recorded.

"Police are instructed to do their duty on polling day and ensure this is a clean election," said Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit Thoopkrachang, the MPB chief.

City Hall officials test vote counting ahead of the polls for a new governor on Sunday. (Photo by Panumas Sanguanwong)

In a new high-tech touch, 10 officers will wear cameras beaming live images from polling centres to the police bureau monitoring centre, said Pol Maj Gen Adul Narongsak, a deputy city police chief.

The cameras fitted to each officer's shoulder will record both video and audio. They will transmit on the 3G mobile spectrum to the main office of the MPB. The recordings could later be used as evidence if needed in any prosecutions of wrongdoing.

The bureau purchased the video cameras last year with the intention of using them in the field when yellow-shirt supporters gathered at Government House.

They had never been used as the protesters ended their activities quickly and lawfully.

The MPB has also stiffened measures to monitor all campaigners over the past few days in a bid to clamp down on vote-buying, with candidates' canvassers being their target.

The Election Commission and district offices in Bangkok have launched their own campaign to lure voters to polling stations.

Democrat candidate MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra and Pongsapat Pongcharoen of the Pheu Thai Party are said to be running neck-and-neck in the contest leading up to Sunday's vote.

MR Sukhumbhand and Democrat members embarked on a campaign for a high turnout of voters as they expected a close call this time.

Bangkok elections usually attract a low turnout of between 50% and 60% of eligible voters. The BMA is hoping for a turnout of at least 70% this time.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said on the Blue Sky TV that a high number of voters going to the polls would shape the outcome of the election.

"I hope voters will use their rights in this election. Their turnout will be very crucial. If (the two candidates are) 10 metres from the finish line, the first and second runners are very close," he said.

Mr Abhisit also criticised police for showing bias by singling out the opposition party as a target for extra scrutiny, including putting pressure on Democrat supporters.

Ong-art Klampaiboon, who directed the campaign for the party in the election, said the Democrats had mobilised all members including national and Bangkok lawmakers to garner support for MR Sukhumbhand, who was shown to be behind his Pheu Thai rival in many opinion polls.

Pol Gen Pongsapat released an open letter on Friday stressing the benefit of having Pheu Thai in charge of both the national and Bangkok governments, as it would create "seamless" administration and end potential conflicts between the two organisations.

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