Bangkok v Thailand

The leading contender for Bangkok governor is incumbent Apirak Kosayodhin, who is the Democrat party candidate. Khun Apirak describes himself as a leading businessperson and observes: ”Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York is a good example of how business veterans can use their expertise in city management.’ ‘Curious that the right wing PAD mob consider the current government to be bad because it is run, according to mob ringleaders, by businesspeople but those same people, including super-rich media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul, close their eyes when their own preferred candidates talk themselves up in the same terms.

Khun Apirak has argued that city-level administration should be in charge of crucial policy areas, including transportation, health care, education and the environment. This is contested by PPP candidate Prapas Chongsa-nguan, who has argued that central government should manage these areas. This is a complex issue and one in which simplistic positions are unlikely to be helpful – modern cities differ in a wide number of ways and decisions on jurisdiction are probably best handled on a case-by-case basis.

Khun Apirak of course wants the position of governor to be as influential as possible since that is his job but there are ideological elements too. Bangkok is a so-called primate city in which government, monarchy, judiciary, executive, business and cultural institutions are all concentrated. Bangkok is not Thailand but it does contain most of what are considered to be the leading institution of the country (although HM the King at the current time is residing at his Hat Yai palace). This means that most income is generated in and retained by Bangkokians in one form or another. Historically, this has meant that Bangkok people have benefited from the money and other resources and have only sparingly shared them with the rest of the country.

It was to overturn this situation, one way or another, that Thai Rak Thai was elected in 2001 and it has been the reassertion of traditionally held power and privilege, mostly acting behind the scenes, that led to the military coup and the support for the right wing PAD mob currently illegally occupying the government compound.

Understandably, perhaps, Bangkokians vote in their own self-interest and that is why it remains dominated politically by the rightist Democrat party. That may well be enough to permit Khun Apirak to keep his job.