Seree rejects deputy governor offer


Independent Bangkok governor candidate Sereepisuth Temeeyaves has announced that a key former People's Alliance for Democracy member will be his running mate after a flood management expert turned down the job.

DOWN TO THE TEA: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Pheu Thai’s Bangkok governor candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen join members of the public for tea at Lumpini Park while campaigning for votes there yesterday.

Mr Sereepisuth said yesterday that Praphan Khoonmee would run as his deputy.

Seree Supratid, the director of the National Disaster Research Centre at Rangsit University, confirmed that the former police chief had approached him about serving as his deputy if he won the March 3 election.

"I told Pol Gen Sereepisuth that I am too busy to join his team. In fact, I personally don't like to get involved in politics and still want to work in my current role," he said yesterday after Pol Gen Sereepisuth held a function to formally announce his campaign team.

Mr Seree, who did not attend the function, said he had no interest in joining the race.

Mr Seree rose to national prominence as one of the few credible authorities on water and flood management during the 2011 floods that ravaged parts of Bangkok.

Mr Seree admitted he had also been approached by another independent candidate, Kosit Suwinitjit, as well as by the Pheu Thai Party and the Democrat Party to run as deputy governor on their tickets.

Pol Gen Sereepisuth's team of advisers, also announced at yesterday's function, is largely made up of former state officials and legal experts including former Fisheries Department chief Thammarong Prakobboon and former director-general of the Public Relations Department Pramoj Rathwinit.

Pol Gen Sereepisuth was the first candidate to formally announce his intention to run for office back in August.

He has pledged to bring change to Bangkok within a year, claiming that all of his campaign promises aimed at improving the livelihoods of residents would materialise within four years.

On economic policy, he said he would establish community-based occupation and skills training centres.

On crime, he plans to engage community members in the fight against drugs and build more recreational parks to lure people away from vice activities.

Pol Gen Sereepisuth also promised to provide free air-conditioned public buses to reduce private car use and cut carbon emissions.

His pet projects include a community doctor programme, a food charity programme for the jobless and a legal amendment that would keep political parties away from the Bangkok governor race.

Pol Gen Sereepisuth admitted he would be fighting an uphill battle as an independent candidate. But he said he believed his non-partisan status could be considered one of his strengths.

"If I was running under a political party's banner, I wouldn't have a free hand in running City Hall. Policies would be influenced by the party's platform," he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra held a four-hour meeting with Pheu Thai Party MPs and district councillors on Friday to discuss preparations for the election, a party source said.

The source noted that Pheu Thai candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen will gradually roll out his 12-point campaign strategy after he officially registers his candidacy tomorrow.

In a related development, Sopon Pornchokchai, president of the Agency for Real Estate Affairs, yesterday became the latest person to announce his intent to run for governor.

Also yesterday, a Suan Dusit Poll revealed that honesty tops the list of qualities Bangkok residents are seeking in a governor.

HOOP DREAMS: Acting governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, accompanied by Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and former governor Apirak Kosayodhin, tries his hand at basketball in the Siam Square area.

CAMPAIGN KICK-OFF: Bangkok governor candidate Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, right, unveils his team of deputies and advisers yesterday. Former PAD core member Praphan Khoonmee, left, is one of the deputies.

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