Wiroj aims to decentralise power

Wiroj aims to decentralise power

MFP candidate for Bangkok wants to 'put residents first'

Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn
Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn

Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, who is running in the Bangkok governor election under the banner of the Move Forward Party (MFP), has vowed to bring change to the capital and tackle problems head-on, with residents' best interests close to his heart.

On Feb 3, Mr Wiroj resigned as a party-list MP for the MFP as required by law to run as a candidate in the Bangkok gubernatorial election expected in May.

Born on Dec 11, 1977, in Bangkok, he obtained a bachelor's degree in engineering from Chulalongkorn University and a master's in business administration from that university before receiving a doctorate from the National Institute of Development Administration.

He worked for private companies for almost 20 years before entering politics by joining the Future Forward Party (FFP) and was elected as a list MP in the 2019 general election.

After the FFP was dissolved by the Constitutional Court in February 2020 over a 191.2-million-baht loan the party accepted from its leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, in breach of the political parties law, Mr Wiroj moved to the MFP, which is a reincarnation of the FFP.

He told the Bangkok Post he has been interested in running in the Bangkok governor election since he joined the FFP which had a policy to decentralise City Hall's authority.

He has since been actively involved in seminars held to address the capital's problems and he did not hesitate to apply when the MFP was looking for candidates for the election.

He said the MFP has devised policies for Bangkok and wanted a candidate who is qualified to pursue them in a way that will benefit Bangkok residents.

An ideal candidate must be able to make decisions without fear or favour, and run City Hall independently of the influence of vested interests, he said.

"I was chosen because I may have met the requirements. Moreover, I also have the party's DNA," Mr Wiroj said.

Talking about his working approach if he is elected as Bangkok governor, he said he is prepared to tackle problems head-on.

"But this doesn't mean I will pick a fight with everybody. My stance is to put the interests of Bangkok residents first and show respect to and support honest civil servants. It is also important to coordinate with other agencies to follow through with problem-solving efforts," Mr Wiroj said.

"For me, a Bangkok governor must stand up against corruption and bribery and I believe Bangkok residents do not want their governor to kowtow to all vested interests," he said.

"Most importantly, taking care of Bangkok residents' interests should be first on the governor's list of priorities. A Bangkok governor should also be able to work with any and every government," he said.

Mr Wiroj also offered his take on how to tackle the capital's traffic woes, one of the many long-standing problems affecting city residents.

He suggested that City Hall issue a bus pass worth 100 baht, with the holder paying 80 baht and the rest subsidised by City Hall.

The bus pass would be used for routes that connect with the Green Line electric railway owned by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), he said.

With the subsidy, Bangkok commuters would pay cheaper bus fares, which would encourage them to use public transport more frequently, he said.

Responding to criticism that the subsidy could see the BMA end up in the red, Mr Wiroj said public service must take precedence over profitability.

"The more people use public transport, the less urban traffic. Some people may consider a park-and-ride system before transferring to a rail system but they finally give up because of the expensive parking fees.

"An efficient feeder bus system subsidised by the BMA will fill the gap and help ease traffic congestion. Feeder buses will connect commuters' homes and electric rail stations.

"Commercial development will also thrive along the routes of the feeder system and illegal vending on the capital's pavements will be properly regulated," Mr Wiroj said.

Asked about Chadchart Sittipunt, an independent running in the Bangkok governor election, who has taken the lead among candidates in a recent survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, Mr Wiroj said he did not want to compare himself with other candidates.

"I only see myself as a person applying for a job. We should never think of a Bangkok governor as a CEO and city residents as employees. In fact, Bangkok residents are the CEO who will decide to choose a Bangkok governor who will serve as the company's manager," Mr Wiroj said.

The BMA has been given an allocation of more than 79 billion baht for the 2022 fiscal year which started on Oct 1 last year. Of the amount, some 14.4 billion baht has been earmarked for a central fund.

"A Bangkok governor should not have too much control of the central fund," he said.

Money from the central fund should be distributed to Bangkok's 50 districts and residents should be allowed to present projects for community development, he said.

If elected as Bangkok governor, one of his priorities will be to improve the life quality and well-being of city residents.

"I have decided to run in the election because I want to push for change and make sure taxpayers' money is well spent.

"If I am voted in as governor, my first tasks will be to increase public welfare benefits and make Bangkok a safe and liveable place, reduce crime rates and road accidents, among many things," Mr Wiroj said.

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