Aspiring MPs vie for votes ahead of crucial Bangkok by-election
Candidates hit the campaign trail in Bangkok on Saturday ahead of a crucial by-election that will offer clues to the road ahead for Thailand’s beleaguered coalition government.
Hopefuls targeting the January 30 poll in Bangkok’s Constituency 9 voiced confidence in winning the seat.
Businesswoman Saranrat Jenjaka, who represents the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, canvassed door-to-door in many communities in Lak Si district. Accompanying her was Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, a senior party figure.
Saranrat said she was “100 per cent confident” of winning the by-election, given strong support pledged by local voters. Contributions she had made to local communities would help her cause, she added.
“These are evident for the local residents. So, I have no worries at all about the competition,” Saranrat said.
Chaiwut was also confident Saranrat had strong backing, citing her popularity among the Bangkok electorate and the ruling party’s development projects in the area.
Saranrat is wife to the constituency’s former MP, Sira Jenjaka. Sira lost his parliamentary status last month after the Constitutional Court ruled that his 1995 fraud conviction meant he had been unqualified to contest the March 2019 general election. The Constitution bars anyone with a criminal conviction from standing for election to the House of Representatives. The ruling against Sira left the seat empty, triggering the need for a by-election.
Opposition Pheu Thai candidate Surachart Thienthong met with locals at Tha Sai Flea Market in Lak Si district. He was joined on the campaign trail by party leader Cholnan Srikaew.
Surachart, who is a former MP for this constituency, urged local voters to turnout in force.
“Your pure force will be the deciding factor and best deterrent against electoral fraud,” he said.
Cholnan said his party’s candidate wanted to hear from locals about their problems. Judging from the positive response from voters, he expressed confidence that Surachart would “win the people’s trust”.
Elsewhere in the constituency, Kla Party secretary-general Attawit Suwannapakdee campaigned for votes in Muang Thong Thani and Chaeng Wattana.
Attawit, who co-founded Kla with former finance minister Korn Chatkavanij, said his party was focusing on economics as well as flood and water-related issues in the constituency. He said he had received “very good responses” from locals during his two weeks of campaigning.
Attawit dismissed perceptions that Kla is merely a “branch” of the coalition government’s Democrat Party.
The Democrats opted not to field a candidate, citing the “political etiquette” against competing to fill a seat lost by a fellow bloc member.
Attawit also urged the Election Commission to combat vote-buying and campaign for a high voter turnout.
Eight candidates are contesting for the vacant MP seat in the January 30 by-election.
The coalition government is facing pressure over its handling of the pandemic and economic crisis, with a general election scheduled for next year.