Political parties vie for votes in the South with wide array of promises
Politicians from 10 parties competed for votes at debate in the South on Saturday by promising to stimulate the region’s economy, increase tourism, insure the price of rubber, build roads, either enhance or continue state subsidies, eliminate narcotics, and amend the Constitution.
Thai Sang Thai secretary-general Sita Divari called for culture to be promoted to develop the economy.
"Songkhla has potential for tourism thanks to its natural wonders and culture," Sita said at the Nation TV-sponsored debate in the province’s Muang district.
The Thai Sang Thai Party will tackle the decline in agricultural prices and amend national park rules to facilitate fishing.
He also vowed to improve quality of life of people in the South by making it easier for them to access funding and by promoting the export halal food.
Wisut Chainaroon, chairman of Pheu Thai's agricultural policy committee, took a swipe at the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, saying indebtedness had risen over the past eight years.
"Only Pheu Thai can solve economic issues," Wisut said.
A Pheu Thai government will maintain the price of rubber sheets at 80 baht apiece, reform fisheries so that the sector becomes environmentally friendly, and provide land titles to reduce encroachment on state land.
A Pheu Thai government will also "eliminate narcotics from Thailand", Wisut said, adding that assets seized from drug dealers would be sold and the money raised used for national development.
Pheu Thai will scrap the entry fee for tourist arrivals, Wisut said, explaining that Thailand no longer has to charge this fee because it is no longer a developing nation.
Nikorn Chamnong, chairman of Chart Thai Pattana's policy and strategy committee, said the party will focus on crop-price insurance, promote Thailand as a regional carbon-credit hub to increase farmers’ income, and tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
National parks across Thailand will be developed to increase tourism, Nikorn said.
A Chart Thai Pattana government will negotiate with insurgents in the South sincerely and from a position of understanding, he added.
Niphon Bunyamanee, deputy leader of the Democrats, said the party will provide subsidies for small and medium-sized enterprises and insurance for crop prices. Niphon said a free-trade agreement with the European Union would increase Thailand’s wealth.
Under a Democrat-led government students will have free education all the way to graduating from university with a bachelor's degree, he said.
The party is promoting peace in the South and believes that ensuring a sustainable supply of food is one way to reduce the insurgency, he said.
Chart Pattana Kla leader Korn Chatikavanij said his party will make everyone in the South rich.
A Chart Pattana government will keep fuel and electricity prices in check, he said.
"All people must have opportunity to borrow loan from banks at fair interest," Korn said.
He also pledged to build highways in the South.
Move Forward deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakun said the party will reform the army and police to ensure they truly work for the people.
A Move Forward government will also amend the Constitution so that residents of each province can elect their governors, she said.
It will also solve land encroachment issues, reduce farmers’ debt, develop new rubber products, and enhance tourism, Sirikanya said.
Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, a representative of United Thai Nation, said the party will continue the government’s state-welfare cards, subsidies for the elderly, village funds and infrastructure development.
A Unite Thai Nation government will establish a fund to maintain the prices of commodities like rubber, he said.
"No prime ministers has had as clear a result for developing the country as Prayut Chan-o-cha," Thanakorn said.
Palang Pracharath representative Niphit Intarasombat said the party will eliminate poverty in southern Thailand, noting that its gross domestic product is lower than that of other regions.
State welfare-card subsidies will be increased from 200 to 700 baht a month, he said.
People who are 60 years of age or more will receive a subsidy of 3,000 baht per month, while those who are 70 or older will receive 4,000 baht per month, Niphit said.
Prachachart secretary-general Tawee Sodsong said the party would restore administrative power to local organisations, tackle land encroachment, and offer free education.
Bhumjaithai deputy leader Pipat Ratchakitprakarn said the party will offer a three-year debt moratorium and insurance for those 60 years of age or more.
Phuket will be developed as a smart city to stimulate tourism and community tourist attraction will be developed, Pipat said.
The three southern border provinces – Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat – will become a multicultural area to promote peace and attract tourists, he added.