Poll-delaying ruse must end
Claims by the Prayut Chan-o-cha government that it has to delay the long-awaited Bangkok governor election out of concern over possible political turmoil are utter nonsense. Prime Minister Prayut recently told the media the government is "still looking for an appropriate time" for the pivotal election, which has been put on hold since he staged a coup in 2014.
A ban on all elections of local administrative offices has gradually been eased, except for in Bangkok and Pattaya. Gen Prayut insists the Bangkok governor election will take place when the city is free of conflict as, in his opinion, security must come first.
What a disappointment. The prime minister's attempts to blame concerns related to the pandemic for stopping people going out to vote are complete gibberish. All the local elections of provincial and tambon administrative organisations, as well as thesaban and several by-elections, have taken place since last December in the wake of the threat of Covid-19. If all the anti-virus measures are well observed, there should be no problem.
Moreover, claims by Gen Prayut that the government has no business getting involved in the gubernatorial election are untrue. All local elections, as stipulated in Section 142 of the Local Administration Election Act, take place after the government gives them the nod. After that, the Election Commission will set a date.
Clearly the prime minister is dragging his feet, forcing the people of Bangkok to accept Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang, whom he handpicked in 2016 while kicking MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra from the position due to several scandals. Despite his poor performance, Pol Gen Aswin still enjoys the support of the government even though his tenure as governor, from the day he was appointed by the since-dismantled National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Oct 18, 2016, has surpassed the four-year term an elected governor would be limited to. The last time Bangkok appointed a governor, in the form of Asa Meksawan, was over 30 years ago.
It's an open secret that the government's waiting game derives from the fact that it has no candidate who can realistically compete with Chadchart Sittipunt, the city's top pick. Ex-police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, who volunteered for the job under the banner of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), decided to call it quits due to a rift within the ruling party. There are reports the government has approached Narongsak Osottanakorn, known among Thais as the "wild boar" governor for overseeing the successful rescue of a young football team trapped in a Chiang Rai cave a few years ago. Mr Narongsak now serves as Pathum Thani governor.
By making such mindless claims to justify delaying the election, Gen Prayut exposes his scheme to maintain the status quo and retain a political advantage over his rivals.
This is unfair. Such ill-gotten benefits come at the expense of the public, given how many serious problems need solving in Bangkok. The capital needs a professional, not someone handpicked by the junta.
The government is facing mounting pressure to hold the Bangkok governor election -- from its coalition partners, especially the Democrat Party, and from the people. Continuing to strip the people of their right to elect their own governor is nothing short of disgraceful.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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