Election for Governor of Bangkok

Anecdote is not evidence, of course, but Suvarnabhumi Airport seemed almost empty last night. Normally, the first of the three entries into the immigration section is crowded with farangs and the smart traveller (or me, whatever) sneaks off to the next entrance, where there are generally much fewer people. However, last night it was not necessary as there were vacant immigration people sitting around with nothing to do. The traffic was very light too. There was a report last week that tourist arrivals were 30% down on normal because of the PAD mob action. It takes the Tourism Authority a few months to collate figures and then naturally they will not publish them straight away – I imagine they will be concerned that they will miss their targets.

One thing that the light traffic does make clear is how many billboards there are on the streets advertising candidates for the Bangkok governor election. There has been very little about this in the English language press – perhaps there is more in the Thai language media but it seems very low key. There seem to be three main candidates, based on the advertising. The first is incumbent Apirak Kosayodhin, who is the Democrat candidate and who, based on his performance so far, is best described as ‘rarely seen.’ I am not sure what he offers apart from more of the same (i.e. very little) and the Democrats of course these days seem to have no policies or ideology at all, thanks to leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, who would have been forced to resign in just about any other country in the world based on his disastrous electoral record.

The second candidate is Chuwit the massage parlour baron – former baron, presumably. His pictures show him furiously (he is always shown as furious about something or other) searching for something, sometimes on the back of a motor bike taxi with the aid of binoculars. I assume this refers to his desire to search for and root out corruption wherever it might be found. He promised the same thing if he were elected to parliament but the torrent of tales he was going to tell about the rich and powerful somehow was stoppered at the source. Perhaps it was because revealing these secrets would compromise his own position and not just an act of flagrant hypocrisy.

A third candidate, number one as I recall (the two above were five and eight – they are numbered to make it easier for people to vote, especially those who cannot read well) offers ‘t-zone for teens.’ It is not clear to me what that is or why anyone would vote for it but there you are. No doubt he means well.

As I recall, the TV personality and occasional Bangkok Post columnist Nattakorn (what was his surname?) was going to run as a kind of underground candidate, relying largely on internet campaigning. Since he was the most acute Thai columnist by quite some distance, it is to be hoped that he loses and returns to his writing and broadcasting.

The election is due on October 5th. Let us see if more information emerges in the meantime.

Ups, Downs and Fiery Balls of Death

Congratulations to Khun Tamarine Tanasugarn, who reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon this week, before being beaten 6-4 6-3 by the mighty Venus Williams, who is of course the reigning champion. Tammy is the first Thai woman ever to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam Tournament and one of only three Asian women to do so – Chinese player Zheng Jie has the potential to go even further as she reached the semi-final stage, where she will play (and presumably lose to) the equally mighty Serena Williams. Still, it is a great achievement for Tammy, who nearly gave it all up a couple of years ago and, at 31, is reaching the veteran stage of her career.

There is more good news elsewhere, with evidence that the legal system is still capable of producing a good verdict: steps will be taken to stop the raucous clamour of the anti-democracy mob PAD so children can return to school and honest people can get on with their lives. The mob has the right to gather and advertise its contempt for the poor and the democratic process but they will have to shut up while they do it. Alas, mob money has a long reach and ‘protesters’ caused such a fuss in Krabi that Minister of the Interior Chalerm Yubanrung had to cut short an official visit. Then again, there is more than one court loose in the country.

The admirable inventiveness of the Thai people has resurfaced: people are apparently trying to use cooking gas to fuel their cars, in the absence of other forms of (cheap) fuel. Alas, this innovation has the drawback that, according to Energy Minister Poonpirom Liptapanlop, it is extremely dangerous and could lead to loss of both life and vehicle in, presumably, a fiery ball of death. Avoid.