Bank­ing on glam­our to win seats

Nu­mer­ous celebri­ties have signed up as can­di­dates in a star-laden cam­paign

The Nation - - LOCAL/ REGIONAL - Sucheera Pinijparakarn The Na­tion

Dozens of celebri­ties are run­ning in the De­cem­ber 23 elec­tion in the hope that fame might help them get into Par­lia­ment. The new Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pat­tana Party is re­garded as a party of celebri­ties.

San­chai Eng­trakul, a Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pat­tana can­di­date, said hav­ing celebri­ties run in the elec­tion might be one of the strate­gies of new par­ties. “My party wants to see a new gen­er­a­tion of politi­cians show­ing a greater per­for­mance for the pub­lic,” he said.

“The elec­tion is upon us and it is not easy to beat ri­vals from the Democrats and Peo­ple Power. There­fore, I have to find a way to make peo­ple re­mem­ber us,” he said.

San­chai, the son of Fi­nance Min­istry per­ma­nent sec­re­tary Som­chainuk Eng­trakul, is run­ning for a Bangkok seat. He is mar­ried to ac­tress Than­yares Ram­narong.

In his cam­paign, be­sides key party mem­bers, his wife and other celebri­ties are also help­ing him.

Kasem­sant Weer­akun, an­other Bangkok can­di­date for Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pat­tana, ad­mit­ted that his fame has helped him be­cause vot­ers know him from TV shows.

Be­fore turn­ing to pol­i­tics, he had been vice pres­i­dent for cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions of Thai Bev­er­age, the maker of Chang beer, and he also used to be a TV an­chor.

How­ever, he de­nied it was a strat­egy of the party to field well-known can­di­dates. “I don’t know if other par­ties do this but it is not our strat­egy,” he said.

“But even celebri­ties won’t gain more ad­van­tage than or­di­nary can­di­dates if they are not smart, as peo­ple will not vote for them,” he added.

Apart from San­chai and Kasem­sant, ML Natthaphol De­vakula, the nephew of for­mer Bank of Thai­land gov­er­nor MR Pridiy­athorn, is run­ning in Bangkok con­stituency 1.

The Pracharaj Party of Snoh Thien­thong is the choice of vet­eran ac­tor Som­bat Metha­nee, a for­mer Bangkok sen­a­tor. Af­ter the coup, Som­bat was cho­sen as a mem­ber of the Na­tional Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly.

He de­cided to run un­der the Pracharaj ban­ner as a party-list can­di­date for con­stituency 6 (Bangkok, Non­thaburi, Sa­mut Prakan).

The newly formed Puea Pandin Party has at­tracted a num­ber of ath­letes. For­mer boxer Sura Saenkham, or Khao­sai Galaxy, is run­ning in Zone 2, while boxer Wichai Rachanont, a bronze medal­list at the 1996 At­lanta Olympics, is run­ning in Bangkok’s con­stituency 5.

For­mer sen­a­tor Ni­tiphoom Navaratna and his son Netiphoom have also joined the party. Ear­lier, Netiphoom had an­nounced he would run in Bangkok for Peo­ple Power, but later changed his mind as he had been a mem­ber of the Peo­ple’s Al­liance for Democ­racy which cam­paigned to oust for­mer prime min­is­ter Thaksin Shi­nawa­tra.

Vet­eran ac­tors who have joined the Puea Pandin in­clude Nat Puwanai and Kowit Watanakul, both con­test­ing seats in Chaiya­phum.

Matchima Thipataya is field­ing vet­eran ac­tor Dam Daskorn and ac­tress Su­pa­porn Saength­ong in Bangkok. Boony­a­sit Tham­maro­jpinij, son of mogul Pai­jit (or Por Pratu­nam), is a debu­tant in the elec­tion. He has never been in­volved in pol­i­tics be­fore. Boony­a­sit is the hus­band of for­mer pop singer Nuk Sut­thida.

Vet­eran singer Su­rachai Som­bat­charoen, son of Su­raphol, Thai­land’s all-time king of coun­try mu­sic, is con­test­ing in Bangkok’s con­stituency 9.

For the Democrats, Boonyod Suk­thinthai is con­test­ing the elec­tion af­ter fail­ing to win a sen­a­to­rial seat, while Malika Boon­metrakul has re­ceived a chance to run in her home­town of Phayao. Malika was a can­di­date for Ma­ha­chon in the last elec­tion, but failed to win a seat.

The PAD camp is led by Somkiart Pong­pai­boon who heads the party list for group 5. Praphan Koonme and Sam­ran Rod­phet are run­ning for Bangkok seats.

The Peo­ple Power Party has also be­come a home to some en­ter­tain­ers. For­mer ac­tor Pakdee­harn Hi­math­ongkham has been given a chance by the party, as has for­mer singer Aris­man Pon­gru­an­grong, who left the mu­si­cal field when the Thai Rak Thai Party was born. Aris­man was a party-list MP, but in this elec­tion he will run in a con­stituency.

Vet­eran ac­tor Krung Sri­wilai and ac­tress Leelawadee Watcharobol have also joined the party to con­test the poll. In the South, ac­tor Prompong Noparit has de­cided to run in Phang Nga.

For­mer news­caster Suprat Nak­bun­nam has joined the race to take over from her friend Sansa­nee Nakpong, who has been banned from pol­i­tics. For­mer singer Porn­pimol Tham­masarn is run­ning for a seat in Pathum Thani.

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