musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Bangkok Governor Election

It’s been a veritable noise fest on the streets of Bangkok in recent weeks. Yes, Chinese New Year reared its noisy head once again, providing all the idiots who love playing with firecrackers an excuse to create more racket. But the added factor in the decibel level was the start of the campaign for Bangkok governor.

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Naturally, a forest of gaudy campaign signs has sprung up all around the city, a most visible clue that the election is coming. But to supplement the signage, many candidates have embraced the idea of hiring vehicles to drive around town, blaring campaign slogans and playing songs, with the occasional “live announcer” yelling more nonsense through the amplified sound system. How loud is it? You can hear them coming from blocks away.

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One of the more visible candidates is the incumbent governor, Sukhumbhand. Despite the fact that he’s done a pretty good job during his first term, based on his cringe-worthy collection of wimpy-looking campaign signs, I’m willing to wager that he loses the election big-time. In some of the photos, Sukhumbhand bears an eerie resemblance to Grandpa Munster. But at least old Mister Munster bared his teeth when he smiled. Sukhumbhand has apparently lost his choppers, judging from the fact that he avoids showing them when he tries to smile. Or is that a grimace? In another unfortunate set of photos the guv is shaking his fist at the camera, and again NOT showing any teeth. The fist-in-your-face pose (there are both right-fist and left-fist signs for some reason; maybe targeting the ambidextrous vote?), however, just comes off looking silly. Is he trying to look tough? Menacing? Determined? Once again, the word “wimpy” springs to mind. This guy is going to lose.

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The other leading candidate, Pongsapat (he, the darling of the ruling Pheua Thai Party, the latest incarnation of the Thaksin regime), has a look of utter surprise in some of his photos. “Can you believe they picked me to run in this thing!” In yet another photo he is making some sort of odd hand gesture, as if he accidentally lost the flute he was playing. Thinking of that missing flute, visions of old Jethro Tull songs from the 1970s spring to mind. “Bungle in the Jungle” baby! No, let’s try “Living in the Past.”

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The other candidates are the usual mish-mash of ex-police dudes, university graduates (these guys love posing in their cap and gown, or showing off their military medals), and eccentric types who are running for reasons only known to their family and Facebook friends.

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This campaign has been going on for over three weeks already, and we still have another full two weeks to go before the elections on March 3. As campaigns go, this one may not be ugly, but it sure is loud and annoying. I think most Bangkokians will be breathing a carbon monoxide-laced sigh of relief when this madness finally ceases.

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