Governor set for early tests

Governor set for early tests

Congratulations to the first democratically elected Bangkok governor for nine years.

However, it seems that he or she will have little time to celebrate after winning the approval of Bangkok residents.

For almost two months, the capital's residents have been bombarded with promises and plans from those running for the position, and now they will be expecting all the talk to turn to action sooner rather than later.

The recent heavy rain proved that the capital's ability to handle flooding during the rainy season remains a problem despite City Hall having spent some 70 billion baht over the past 13 years on various prevention measures.

Whichever candidate has emerged as the triumphant new governor, all have visions of a flood-free future, and all have chimed in with their own novel plans to solve what has become a chronic problem.

And, luckily for the incoming administration, being elected just as this year's rainy season strikes means that residents of our rain-soaked capital city will expect all that election-trail confidence to bear fruit rather fast in this early test of coordination and character.

If the polls are correct, Bangkok's residents are ready to give someone new an opportunity to prove themselves.

In addition to the weight of the water bearing down on the city, several other urgent issues will prove difficult to dodge early on, particularly residents' concerns over the deteriorating environment caused by pollution in some areas, which have been left unchecked too long already.

Traffic is chief among the most chronic problems and needs urgent solutions. While it must be understood that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration does not oversee the traffic police, the governor will have a role to play in implementing ways to alleviate the gridlock.

The proposed extension of the Green Line's 30-year concession under the Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) is one of most challenging issues as all contenders have promised they will look again at the controversial blueprint put forward by the outgoing administration.

But with the plan already receiving cabinet-level vetting, the public will be curious to see whether the new chief has the necessary clout to intervene and ensure fares remain affordable.

Quality of life is another pressing concern in the wake of the economic hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The rising cost of living and scarcity of affordable healthcare services must be addressed, as the impact on people's standard of living has been alarming. Scores of businesses remain closed after being shattered by nearly three years of closures and restrictions and many have been left without work during that time.

Nevertheless, all that Bangkokians really want is a clean environment in which they feel empowered to make a living to provide for themselves and their families. They want a stake in the decision-making process and the chance to participate in shaping the development of their communities.

Bureaucracy and corruption remain endemic and however well-intentioned the new governor may be, rebuilding faith in City Hall may take time.

It is vital that a timeframe be made public early on, so the new administration can be held accountable for those promises made during these last two months.

It may have been nine years in the making, but this time round there will be no honeymoon period for the wearer of yesterday's biggest smile.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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