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Bangkok goes to poll to elect new governor


October 5, 2008

Bangkok goes to poll to elect new governor
Voters in Thailand's capital Bangkok are expected to return Governor Apirak Kosayodhin to a second four-year term when they cast their ballots Sunday, reported Kyodo news.

Apirak, despite charges of failure in office from his rivals and a continuing scandal revolving around the fire department, leads in pre-election polls and looks to win easily, particularly after top challenger Chuwit Kamolvisit appeared to end his chances by punching a television news anchor during a live interview on Thursday.

The former massage parlor owner said the anchor's "insults" pushed him over the limit.

Until the outburst, Chuwit had attracted plenty of attention from Bangkok's 4 million eligible voters with an unorthodox and humor-filled campaign aimed at defusing Apirak's appeal.

Leena Jangjunja also made the campaigning much more fun than usual by wearing colorful dresses and bird-dogging front-runners Apirak and Chuwit at their own rallies.

She said following the leaders meant she got much more attention for her own run for the governorship than if she had tried to hold rallies on her own.

The polls, however, suggest even that tactic will not be enough to win on Sunday.

Apirak, standard-bearer of the national opposition Democrat Party, is trailed in the pre-election polls by independent Chuwit, academic Kriangsak Chareonwongsak, nationally ruling People Power Party candidate Prapas Chongsa-nguan, a former head of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority, Leena and 11 others.

But with 16 candidates to choose from, voter Veera Ungvongsakul, 33, said he has been tired out by the campaign and suggested his fellow Bangkok residents worry too much about the "look" of a candidate, not his or her policies.

"I'm so sick of governors who just look good in front of the cameras. The next governor should seriously resolve our basic problems, like traffic or flooding...for voters, please do not just look at pretty faces," he pleaded in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

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