Chadchart's challenge

Chadchart's challenge

People in Bangkok generally approve of the work record of governor Chadchart Sittipunt after six months in the post, according to a recent opinion poll by the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida).

The Nida poll, conducted among 1,500 eligible voters, showed a high approval rating for Mr Chadchart, with over 42% of respondents saying they were satisfied and 39% highly satisfied.

The results, released last week, were not really a surprise. Mr Chadchart, who served as transport minister in the previous Yingluck Shinawatra administration, has maintained an active presence in the public eye and on social media, setting up his own live communication with the public.

Yet some 10.5% said they were not quite satisfied with his performance, while 8% said they were not satisfied at all, saying the governor still can't fix long-standing problems, such as congested traffic and seasonal flooding.

Mr Chadchart won by a landslide in the May 22 gubernatorial election. With more than 1.3 million votes, he beat the incumbent Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang, who was appointed by the former junta in 2016. The Democrat Party's Suchatvee Suwansawat and the Move Forward Party's Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn came second and third, respectively.

When Pol Gen Aswin was unseated, he left a number of problems for his successor, who faces high expectations from city residents. But it would be unrealistic to expect that lingering problems such as heavy traffic, or those that depend on integration with other agencies, such as the development of a smart public transportation system, can be resolved overnight.

Some problems, like waste and toxic smog, require a policy U-turn and a new direction. Bangkok, which saw over 8,600 tonnes of waste a day in 2021, is ranked as the province with the most waste nationwide. Each year, it spends a fortune tackling this problem.

Mr Chadchart, while dwelling on the same "reduce, reuse, recycle" (RRR) campaign pursued by his predecessors, has focused more on managing waste, providing garbage trucks for green waste, and introducing new collection schedules that make it easier for the waste-separation process. Initially, he did this as a pilot project in three districts. However, the system has since been expanded.

While it remains to be seen whether the city can reduce its waste, residents can at least look forward to having a role in the RRR campaign.

As the governor is still experiencing his honeymoon period in office, it's not yet time for a proper appraisal. He still has many policy promises to see through, like reducing fares on the BTS Skytrain, upgrading the BRT system in the Klong Chong Nonsi area, and adding more city parks.

Yet his key asset is his working style which focuses on public consultations and engagement with related agencies. Unlike the top-down bureaucratic style used by some of his predecessors, his approach gives hope that some tough problems can be taken care of, with Bangkokians part of the problem-solving process.

Yet problems like floods and mass-transit issues will remain among Mr Chadchart's challenges. In order to resolve them, he must show that he has the leadership and courage to make tough decisions, and prove himself to be the kind of "CEO" who can manage a sluggish bureaucratic system like the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). Above all, he must keep doing a good job and make Bangkok a liveable city, as promised when he ran for the job.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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