PATONG: The Patong Municipal Council has elected a new mayor for the town after former Mayor Pian Keesin was forced to step down last week when his budget plan was rejected by a vote of 9-2. Oddly, the new Mayor is Surasak Maneesri, one of the two councilors to vote for Pian’s budget – the other being Pian himself. Sakorn Cheua-yuan and U-thai Kanchana were elected Deputy Mayors. The three thanked the other members of the council before abruptly leaving the meeting. The new team now have to wait for their election to be officially approved by Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi. This must happen within 15 days. After today’s election, ousted Mayor Pian accused the council of “defrauding the public” by “hiding information” after they failed to present the minutes of the budget meeting at today’s meeting. He told reporters that he himself had already received a copy of the draft minutes, though this did not carry all the necessary official signatures. He added that he had sent a copy to the Office of the National Counter-Corruption Commission in Bangkok. “I’m not against the election of a new team, because it’s still Patong people managing Patong. But this lack of transparency will destroy the ability of the council to manage the local community,” he said. “It will be unjust, not only for me, but also for the people of Patong. The Governor CEO, who has the authority, should straighten things out, and should not be afraid to do so.” After speaking with reporters, ex-Mayor Pian addressed a crowd of over 100 local people who had assembled at the council building to show their support for him. He assured them that he had never cheated them and stressed that he had a letter from a construction company he was accused of receiving bribes from, a letter attesting to his innocence. The Patong Palad, Somkiat Kwansuwan, who is also the council’s secretary, told reporters that the councilors had already settled on the names of the new mayor and deputies beforehand, and that today’s meeting was held only to make the appointments official. As for the minutes mentioned by ex-mayor Pian, he said that these had not yet been checked or signed by the council committee responsible for this task, which was why they had not been placed before the full council. He added, however, that a copy of the draft minutes had been sent to the Governor.
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