Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday defended himself against criticism he was invoking the institution of the monarchy in the upcoming city governor election.
Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra appears on a campaign billboard with a message that reads ‘‘Bangkok people’s love for His Majesty never falters’’. MR Sukhumbhand has denied involvement with the billboard after netizens criticised him for citing the higher institution in his campaign ahead of the city governor election. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN
The governor is under fire following the recent launch of the Rak Nai Luang (Love the King) campaign which pledges unwavering loyalty to the monarchy.
Huge billboards have sprung up on several city streets as part of the campaign. They feature MR Sukhumbhand and six other people with a message reading "Khon Krungthep Rak Nai Luang Mai Plien". The message roughly means "Bangkok people's love for His Majesty never falters".
The governor said yesterday the campaign has nothing to do with him or City Hall. It was initiated by the private sector.
Mr Sukhumbhand said he was approached by a volunteer group who asked for his photo for the campaign simply because he is the city governor. "I didn't initiate the campaign. It isn't my billboard. It isn't the City Hall's billboard," he said.
"It has a photo of me on it and that's all."
The six others featured in the billboards are actresses Siripan Wattanajinda and Ratchawin Wongwiriya, singer Krisda Sukosol and three Olympics stars _ weightlifter Pimsiri Sirikaew, taekwondo athlete Yaowapa Burapolchai and boxer Somjit Jongjorhor. MR Sukhumbhand stands out as the only politician.
The billboard bears the name of the Kid Dee Tum Dee (Think Good, Do Good) group. The billboard is thought to be part of the governor's election campaign amid speculation that he will seek a second term in next year's election.
His critics describe it as inappropriate, saying the campaign cites the monarchy to curry favour with voters.
A source in the Democrat Party said the billboards have caused unease in the party because the institution of monarchy is a sensitive issue. Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva wants all the billboards removed, the source said.
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- Writer: Supoj Wancharoen