Friday, August 27, 2010

Bangkok district council elections

This Sunday the elections for the district councils in 36 districts - 14 districts in the east of Bangkok already had their elections on June 6 - as well as the election for the BMA council, so also the voters in the 14 districts have to go to the ballot box again. In the life-style BK magazine, a rather unlikely place to find anything about politics, there's now a great article on these elections. It includes many smaller details on the actual tasks of each councilor I did not know before, strange I never notice such a background article in any of the major English newspapers in Bangkok. The most notable part in the article is the following:
Up until the new military constitution of 2007, that aimed to cut abuse of power and corruption, being a city councilor was a potentially lucrative post. Each one received some 25 million baht to spend pretty much as he or she pleased in their district: add street lights, build a park, expand a road. Three million baht of that budget was even chalked down to personal expenses, with practically no oversight whatsoever.
Now I don't wonder anymore why for example in Bangkok Noi, the district I know best, it has kitsch animal figurines in the green middle part of Charansanitwong road - probably some money from that budget which needed to be spent, and no better and more useful idea came up.

Just sad that this article does not answer one of the things I wonder about a lot - why do these 14 districts vote their district councils some weeks before the others, so for the city council election they have to go to the ballot twice. As the turnout for these local elections is relatively weak, keeping the two elections together at the same date would make the turnout at least a bit higher.

By the link at the end of the article, I also now discovered the Press Release website of the city of Bangkok, and it even has RSS feeds, so I can comfortable monitor it for the news relevant for my topics, so I might be able to catch news of the planned new district and subdistricts more timely. But as usual, all just in Thai, but at least with Google Translate it get accessible.

As I was in Bangkok before the campaigning for these election actually started, I have no photo of election posters to decorate this article - but at 2bangkok it has a big gallery, including defaced ones and explanations of the slogans or the defacement.

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