PHUKET TOWN: Over 1,000 people last night flocked to a rally organized by the Democrat party to launch Phuket MP Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr as its candidate for the March 14 election to choose a new President of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor). Also on the podium at the outdoor Chatuchak market on Phang-nga Rd were the glamorous and popular Abisit Vejjajiva, the Democrats’ Deputy Leader, and Chamni Sakdiseth, the party’s Deputy Secretary. The turnout far exceeded those at the launch of the other two candidates – independent Wisut Santikun and Samroeng Chaisorn, who is backed by Thai Rak Thai (TRT) – an indication of the Democrats’ enduring popularity in Phuket. K. Abisit told the crowd that in the old days people thought local politics were not important but nowadays things had changed and local politics were much more important in many countries around the world. He stressed that the Democrat Party, while in government, had pushed for the devolution of power from Bangkok to the provinces, but that the TRT government had not been willing to loosen its grip on the nation. Although the Government might not be keen on giving more power to the provinces, he said, it would be difficult, given current trends and the intent of the Thai Constitution, for the TRT to resist devolution. People could not yet choose provincial governors, he admitted, but at least now they could choose representatives to work for them directly, such as OrBorJor presidents. “K. Anchalee has made a decision to work for the people of Phuket,” he said, referring to the former party-list MP’s startling decision to step down from her seat in Parliament and run for OrBorJor President. “Phuket is important to Thailand in many ways, so any person who is involved in administering this special province should be special as well. “The Democrat Party sees her potential and wants to support her in leading Phuket through the changes to come.” K. Chamni described K. Anchalee as “an outstanding person for Phuket because she has been elected as MP four times in a row.” “This is the first time a national politician has decided to move back into local politics. It’s a deeper level of politics because Phuket is the international city in many ways, including education, tourism, commerce and investment.” He explained that in future local bodies would be more important to the development of cities than national ones. “Her decision [to run for OrBorJor President fits in well with] the Democrat Party vision of working by devolving power to local organizations such as municipalities and OrBorJor. Now there is a chance for people, if they choose us, to be a part of those organizations. “The party considers only those people who are suitable. Some may suit a role as MPs while others may be more suitable as administrators,” he added. “Not everyone can be an MP or a minister.” K. Chamni said that the Democrats would not be fielding candidates in all the coming OrBorJor elections, but only in those provinces they consider particularly important. K. Anchalee told the audience, “The party’s decision [to back my candidature] was made for a number of reasons. “The first is that Phuket is the famous tourist destination and earns more than 50 billion baht a year for the country, but also has many problems such as labor and the environment. “The CEO Governor system, which is a Government policy, seems to be concentrating administrative power [in Bangkok], so we need to have someone elected by the people to balance this power.” Addressing rumors that she had resigned as MP because the party had not appointed her to a senior post, she said, “This was just an attempt by some people to discredit me. It is Democrat Party’s strategy and vision to share administrative power with local organizations. That is why I am doing this. “I believe that the Democrats will win more seats in Parliament in the next election because people know very well that we understand their problems and that we will solve those problems in a long term. “From now on, local and national politics will be inseparable.”
Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.
Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.
Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.