Like most of the past governor elections, the upcoming March 3 contest will definitely be a two-horse race.
And it will be a tough competition between the opposition Democrat Party and the ruling Pheu Thai Party, which in its former incarnations has been a big loser in the Bangkok polls since 2004 when Apirak Kosayothin, then a political novice, won a landslide victory.
As contestants in this fierce battle, both Democrat MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra and Pheu Thai nominee Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen (whom the media cordially call by the nickname "Judy") have proved they are willing to do anything to gain media attention.
That's why every morning when I scan the front pages, I cannot help but think: is this a Top Chef programme or a reality stunt show? Anyone would think the same when looking at photos of the candidate chopping chicken, grilling bananas, driving a Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) bus, crooning or hopping onto a city garbage truck.
They also come up with new promises on a daily basis, trying to make us think our lives will be better if we allow one of them to be "Mr Right".
Apart from their own performances, the parties they represent have entered the game with great gusto.
Among the many promises, I have been struck by the repeated claims of "seamless cooperation" mentioned by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and some cabinet ministers.
By using the term "seamless", the prime minister tries to project Pol Gen Pongsapat as the best choice, suggesting there will be no distance between him and the ruling party. All work will be smooth with the government guaranteeing the green light all the way.
In other words, it will be different if Bangkok voters still decide to choose the former governor, who is from the opposition. Or to translate roughly: vote Sukhumbhand and there will be no privileges. Or there will be a struggle _ or worse, "punishment" by the Pheu Thai government?
Will it be the same struggle Bangkok people, in particular those in Thon Buri, the political stronghold of the Democrats, faced during the massive 2011 floods? During that disaster, a lot of people thought things might have been different if the Bangkok governor was from the ruling party. Is that the case, Madame Prime Minister?
Though people have not given much consideration to this statement, perhaps because of Ms Yingluck's soft-spoken style (it would be very different if the same claim came from her brother), I have to admit I am not happy with it.
To me it is a blunt political bluff.
In principle, the government, from whatever party it is, must accommodate the work of the Bangkok governor for the benefit of the city and its residents. Ms Yingluck or her cabinet minister cannot say or do otherwise.
May I remind her that Bangkok has witnessed the "seam of difficulties" Mr Apirak experienced when he was Bangkok governor with Thaksin as premier, and they still chose him to run the capital again. Even when Mr Apirak resigned prematurely to set a political precedent, after he was charged over the fire truck scandal together with then interior minister Pokin Polakul, Bangkok people still voted for the Democrats' MR Sukhumbhand, a new face in local politics.
And much to my surprise, many people still remember the "electricity pole" saga _ the notorious saying of Thaksin, who had such confidence Bangkok people would vote for whoever runs in the election under his party banner. Even if he fielded an electricity pole in the election, he said, Bangkok people would still vote for it.
That was the very first time Bangkokians gave Thaksin a painful political lesson.
We still don't know who will be "Mr Right" for the capital as Bangkok people are known for their peculiar voting behaviour. They like one candidate very much, but end up choosing someone else in order to block certain others.
But let me assure you, political bluffs, even if you make them softly _ or harshly like your brother _ will do your candidate no good.
Ploenpote Atthakor is Deputy Editorial Pages Editor.
About the author
- Writer: Ploenpote Atthakor
Position: Deputy Editorial Pages Editor