Lessons learned, or maybe not
There are 10 lessons to be learned from the Bangkok gubernatorial election.
- Published: 7/03/2013 at 07:40 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
10) Politics of fear works
The rumour about UDD co-leader Jatuporn Prompan becoming deputy governor if Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen won – wow, that was a good one, really good. Perhaps one million out of the 1,256,349 voters who voted for MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra went to the polls just because of that rumor. The Democrats are learning how to work democracy, aren’t they? Crafty.
9) Perhaps Thai people are not okay with corruption after all.
Pollsters have given two abysmal performances - during the 2011 general election for Bangkok parliamentary candidates, and this year’s Bangkok gubernatorial election. Perhaps it makes sense given the quality of education in Thailand that these university polls keep getting it wrong. What else should we expect? On the upside however, could all those polls that had the majority of respondents saying corruption is okay, as long as they are also taken care of, be wrong as well? One can only hope, or maybe not.
8) Do not tempt the holy of holies
UDD co-leader Nattawut Saikuar gave a hell, fire and brimstone speech ahead of the election. He cursed the Democrats, accusing them of dirty tactics in bringing up the burning of buildings in Bangkok in 2010. He swore to the holy of holies that neither he nor the UDD had anything to do with the burning, and that this truth would be self-evident as calamity would befall those who lie, and prosperity come to those who tell the truth. The holy of holies would see to this, according to Nattawut, starting with the gubernatorial election. Well…
7) The coup crowd may learn to appreciate democracy
Those so blinded by the fear and hatred of Thaksin Shinawatra as to support the 2006 military coup d'etat and those who would support another coup should reflect on this gubernatorial election, and realise that democracy – while it takes more patience and hard work – can bring about the desired result for them. So let’s discard undemocratic notions if there are any left. Well, of course, there are still many left.
6) Please do not abuse your television set
At the UDD headquarters, when the result was finally clear, the television set became an object of such degradation that no amount of counseling sessions could help it recover from. Not only the finger pointing and hurling of curses and insults kind of stuff, one red lady kept wiping her backside with her hand and smearing it on the screen, backside and screen, backside and screen, amidst the cheering, laughter, dancing and cursing of the others. Please, do not degrade your TV like that. And please, you’re not helping to repair the image that those stuck-up, uppity middle and upper class Bangkokians have of you. Don’t play to the stereotype.
MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, left, and Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen (File Photos)
5) Better graphic designers are needed
If the media and public dubbed MR Sukhumband "eer" (meaning that sometimes his facial expressions convey the impression he’s not all there in the head), then given the ridiculously retouched photo of Pol Gen Pongspat on campaign posters, he must be ‘’eer junior’’. With all the money and the savvy of the Thaksin political machine, who decided that the plastic, lifeless elderly Asian likay version of the Ken Doll would be endearing to casual voters? Seriously, no. Motorists drive by, take a look and utter ‘’what the…’’.
4) The meaning of the word ‘’stronghold’’
The record 63% voter turnout says that it takes a deep political divide to nurture a democratic conscience. However, the Democrat Party's hold on Bangkok is not strong. The grip is loosening, the fingers aching. It relies too much on the fear/hate Thaksin votes, even MR Sukhumbhand admitted as much. Pheu Thai gained a 10% increase in popular votes over the last election, the Democrats only 2%. Looking at future elections, one must take this to heart.
3) Some white lies are better than others
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and MR Sukhumband promised to work "seamlessly" with each other. If we had ever known either side to work for the good of the whole, rather than of their own, then we may believe the gesture. But alas, we should know better. Having said that, such gestures and more are needed to at least set a tone and create an illusion for the public at large. Set a better example for the red lady who wiped her behind and smeared it on the television screen, and others like her on both sides of the political divide. Really people, our parents taught us better than that.
2) Not all polls are created equal
All things considered, Khunying Sudarat Keyurapan would have made pork chop out of MR Sukhumband if Thaksin had chosen her to run. She’s perhaps the only Pheu Thai politician that the anti-Thaksin crowd can stomach, many even appreciate. She already has a strong support base in Bangkok. On the other hand, how many people actually knew who Pol Gen Pongsapat was before all this? But alas, Thaksin decided to listen to Chalerm Yumbamrung, which is something no one should do to begin with. As well, he bent to the whims of the UDD, who do not appreciate it at all that Khunying Sudarat was silent and kept her distance through all their struggles. If you want to win, choose your best pole.
1)The irony of it all
This Democrat victory might have prevented a Pheu Thai monopoly. But if MR Sukhumbhand had lost, that might – just might, however slim the chance – have led to a big change within the dinosauresque Democrat Party – rethink, reengineer and restructure. His victory however ensures that there will be no change, and hence the Thaksin political machine will not only have gained ground in Bangkok, it will continue to dominate national politics.
About the author
- Writer: Voranai Vanijaka
- Position: Political and Social Commentator