Poll puts Sukhumbhand in the lead


Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra is leading in at least one poll ahead of next month's election, but the majority of voters remain undecided.

SITTING PRETTY: MR Sukhumbhand’s popularity seems to be robust.

About 24% of respondents said they would vote for MR Sukhumbhand on Feb 17 in a survey conducted by Nida Poll, the results of which were released yesterday.

A further 17.55% said they favoured Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen, secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, who has the backing of the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

Only 9.48% said they supported former national police chief Pol Gen Sereepisut Taemeeyaves.

However 40.5% of respondents said they had yet to decide who to vote for.

The survey was carried out between Dec 25 and Jan 4 among 3,356 eligible voters aged 18 years and over in all 50 districts of Bangkok.

MR Sukhumbhand's first term ends officially on Thursday.

According to the poll result, MR Sukhumbhand was a favourite among decided voters in almost all areas of Bangkok except in the northern part of the city where Pol Gen Pongsapat holds a slight lead, with 21.72% support compared with 21.36% for MR Sukhumbhand.

The poll findings also raised eyebrows when 95.35% of respondents said they would cast a ballot.

Voter turnout in Bangkok governor elections is typically very low, at 40-50% or even less.

Assoc Prof Thaweesak Sutkavathin, a political scientist at the National Institute of Development Administration, said the findings reflected the Democrat Party's support base in the capital.

He said the Democrat candidate was apparently facing pressure from a number of issues which could take a toll on his popularity. Those included the Chatuchak market row with the State Railway of Thailand and the much-delayed construction of the Bangkok Futsal Arena.

A fresh survey carried out among 1,221 people by Suan Dusit Poll indicated that voters would cast ballots based on the individual candidate, not the political party.

About 41.3% said they would consider the candidate before other factors, while 30.4% said they would give weight both to the candidate and the party he or she represented.

Meanwhile, MR Sukhumbhand is still eligible to contest the coming Bangkok governor election despite being charged over a contract extension to a skytrain operator, the Election Commission has said.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has decided to press charges against MR Sukhumbhand and 10 others in connection with City Hall's decision to award Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) a 13-year contract _ despite the fact that the BTSC still had 17 years left on its old contract _ which will allow the company to run the skytrain system until 2042.

EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said according to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Act and Local Election Act, a candidate for the post of Bangkok governor must not have been convicted by a court or be detained under a court warrant.

MR Sukhumbhand has just been charged by the DSI.

Even though the case against him has been filed with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in the Criminal Court, he is still qualified to run in the election as long as he has not been declared a convict, he said.