The 25 candidates for the position of Bangkok governor were announced last week and some placards and posters have already been put up around the city. What we are likely to also see is the extra lengths candidates will go to in order to garner people's attention and support before the election takes place on March 3. But we're talking about more than grilling bananas or driving a bus here. We've done some research on the most attention-grabbing tactics candidates for Bangkok governor have used in the Kingdom (leave it to us Thais to put a light-hearted spin on everything). Not only should the election candidates take note of these tactics but Bangkokians should too since we don't want to elect someone who is no fun, right? Future Bangkok governor and voters, read on!
JUDGE A CANDIDATE BY HIS POSTER
GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY
The tactic: When you want to highlight a certain policy you feel passionate about, why not make a spectacle of it? You may need to get a bit down and a little dirty for this.
The candidate who did it: In September 2008, independent candidate Leena Jangjanja, aka Leena Jung, wanted to show how problematic boat transport in Khlong Saen Saep was while campaigning in Pratunam. Getting in and out of boats on the canal is notoriously dangerous and involves the risk of falling into the heavily polluted and smelly water. After Leena told reporters how smelly the water in the canal was while standing on the edge of a boat holding on to a rail, she then turned around and apparently tried to walk along the edge. Suddenly it seemed like she was slowly sinking into the water of doom while holding onto the rail. She called out for help while continuing to wail about the putrid water rapidly rising around her.
To the rescue, shirtless men in golden pants and red bandanas who worked for her campaign (Leena is also known for her colourful entourage) scooped her out of the water after half of her body had already been submerged. At this point, the rest of her campaign team started chanting her name. She used this wet opportunity to tell reporters and passersby that she would revamp transport in this canal and that people would be able to use boats for free. She promised ladders would be built so people could get on and off boats with ease, of course.
While people speculated whether she fell on purpose, she insisted she didn't. We believe her since no girl in her right mind would ruin a gorgeous hot pink dress for an election or anything else for that matter. What's sure is that Leena got a lot of media coverage from her dip in the khlong.
The tactic: One way to get people's attention is making them question whether you're serious about your candidacy or not. Forget about presenting yourself as professional and approachable, but instead alienate the grassroots by putting tons of jewelry on your body and wearing expensive clothes; all the while alienating the rest of the voters too by telling them you can communicate with deities.
Thoranee always dresses gala-ready, with her hair puffed up and styled a la khun nai. Her dresses are always fancy and she accessorises with glittering brooches. She typically wears big rings on all 10 fingers and adds several sparking bracelets and watches on each wrist. You can probably notice her from a distance due to her shiny ensemble. Appearance-wise, like Lady Gaga, she doesn't seem to care about blending in with the crowd.The candidate who did it: People remember Thoranee "Lek" Rittheethammarong, a multiple-time candidate for Bangkok governor, for many reasons probably none of which are her policies.
Campaigning-wise, she's pretty out of this world too. When asked about her reason to run for Bangkok governor, she said a past king told her to run for the position. She also added that she would not walk the streets of Bangkok to meet voters. Not because her high heels are made of diamond and hard to walk in, mind you. She believed if the sacred entities she respects wanted her to win, she would simply win.
The good news is that she is also running for the coveted position this year and recently outdid (or should we say out-dressed) even herself. She showed up to register as a candidate at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration last Friday in a costume that made her look like bodhisattva Guanyin, aka Goddess of Mercy. She wore a white dress and big tiara and was accompanied by three boys holding placards with her policies on them. She didn't use a smoke machine, though, and she again promised to do very little to garner votes. She welcomed invitations to talk about her policies from the press and organisations only. When asked why she was dressed as the goddess, candidate number 21 said the goddess had told her to! We didn't make this set up. We couldn't.
The tactic: If you think you look as cute as a cartoon character, why not introduce a mascot of your likeness to your campaign. Who doesn't like a cuddly cartoon, right?
Sam the mascot wasn't just a hand-waving cutie though as he represented Sam the candidate's number and his 10 policies he promised to the people. Before Sam Ten, Sam had used Super Sam and Spider Sam to represent himself.The candidate who did it: Yuranan "Sam" Pamornmontri, who used to be a dara and recording artist, was a candidate from Pheu Thai Party in the 2008 race for Bangkok governor. He unveiled a mascot named "Sam Ten" while he was meeting people at Chatuchak Weekend Market. The mascot was obviously inspired by cartoon TV series Ben 10, which is about a boy who acquires a watch-like device that allows him to transform into alien creatures. He said his son and daughter came up with the idea of representing himself through a mascot.
There's nothing as foolproof as putting smiles on voters' faces than introducing a cuddly cartoon as part of your campaign. Who wouldn't want to see Super Sukhumbhand, Fantastic Pongsapat or Spider Suharit, right?
PLA TOO PLACARDS
The tactic: To show voters how resourceful and economical you are as a candidate, why not make your own placards out of cheap and humble material?
The candidate who did it: Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang turned used baskets meant to contain pla too into his campaign placards. He wanted them to represent thriftiness and modesty. He had served as the governor of Bangkok in 1985 and 1990. Concerns about the smell aside, the green candidates just need to make sure they clean their campaign materials thoroughly first.
The tactic: Come up with a controversial policy. This doesn't necessarily increase your chance of getting elected, mind you. But if you want to be talked about for years to come, then develop an idea no voters could ever agree with.
The candidate who did it: Businessman Smith Smithinan, this year's number five candidate, has run for the position of Bangkok governor multiple times but was never elected despite the fact that his main platform is fixing Bangkok's ever-worsening traffic congestion with a very clear plan. Why? Probably because his proposal is so outlandish no one wants to hear how he would address other issues of this city. His answer to stopping traffic standstill is to make all traffic lights green at every intersection while cars must turn left at every crossroad and can't go straight or right. Since we already have more cars on the road thanks to the first-car tax rebate, you should consider voting for him only if you wish to see total chaos on Bangkok roads.
The tactic: Usually candidates try to look happy and professional on their posters. They stand tall in a suit with the hint of a smile on their faces while the rest of their facial features are air-brushed to the point some of them lose their nose bridge. It's cliche, boring and unrealistic. Why not try to stand out by looking pissed/angry in your posters instead?
The candidate who did it: Not only did Chuwit Kamolvisit, who ran for Bangkok governor in 2008, look serious in many of his electoral posters, sometimes he even pointed out from them to people who were looking at them. His emotions seems to range from "I have a headache" to "I lost my dog!". In the sea of smiling Photoshop-ed candidates, his posters jumped out and looked more realistic. Unlike your usual political candidates, he never wore a blazer in those posters too.
• แคว้นโบราณ ด่านเจดีย์ มณีเมืองกาญจน์ สะพานข้ามแม่น้ำแคว แหล่งแร่น้ำตก
• A province of ancient community, three pagodas pass, precious stones, River Kwae Bridge, Minerals and waterfall resources.
จังหวัดจันทบุรี• น้ำตกลือเลื่อง เมืองผลไม้ พริกไทยพันธุ์ดี อัญมณีมากเหลือ เสื่อจันทบูร สมบูรณ์ธรรมชาติ สมเด็จพระเจ้าตากสินมหาราช รวมญาติกู้ชาติที่จันทบุรี
• Magnificent Waterfalls, Fruit City, Good Breeding Peppercorns Loads of Gems, Chanthabun Mat, Fertile Nature, Gathering Place of King Taksin the Great’s Liberation Army
• แม่น้ำบางปะกงแหล่งชีวิต พระศักดิ์สิทธิ์หลวงพ่อโสธร พระยาศรีสุนทรปราชญ์ภาษาไทย อ่างฤๅไนป่าสมบูรณ์
• The Bountiful Bang Pakong River,the Sacred Buddha Image of Luangpho Sothon, Phraya Si Sunthon the Scholar of Thai Language, and the Pristine Ang Rue Nai Forest