THOUGH MOVE FORWARD PARTY’S men running for the first time for MP in Sunday’s by-election in Chumphorn and Songkhla are virtually viewed by southern constituents as underdog contenders with very slim chances of winning, they have been considerably spicing up the mini-races to parliament.
The opposition party’s rank and file undoubtedly anticipate votes for Move Forward candidates Worapol Anantasak contesting in Chumphorn’s Constituency 1 and Thiwat Damkaeo running in Songkhla’s Constituency 6 to mostly come from first-time voters and adolescent constituents but all those votes will be very far from enough to land a victory for the underdogs, according to political observers.
Worapol makes a living as a motorcycle-mounted delivery rider and is a political science undergraduate whilst Thiwat is known as a former assistant to Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat and a former student activist.
Though Pita enthusiastically joined the party’s bandwagon on electoral campaign stumps in both constituencies, he could not help much in bid to woo more of the southerners’ meagre support, given the current scenario in which the approaching race to parliament was decisively meant only for candidates from two other parties – Palang Pracharath Party and Democrat Party, both being coalition partners in government.
The Move Forward candidates and canvassers offered to find ways and means to preserve and promote the constituents’ interests in matters pertaining to local natural resources and environment with respect to such typical issues as rubber plantations, oil palm plantations, coastal fishery and power plants projects which they claimed to have remained at disposal of the powers that be at local, provincial and national levels.
Those natural resources and environment issues look like the only ones which the Move Forward campaign could readily touch on and come up with proposals for initial solutions whereas the other contestants flagrantly talk politics since they are firmly connected with MPs and local- and provincial-level politicians as well as local business cliques, plus the ever-abundant help from state mechanism, according to the political observers.
Though Palang Pracharath Party got no MP seat for Chumphorn in the 2019 general election, the largest government party have assigned four Songkhla MPs of their own to assist in one way or another the party’s candidate running in the lower southern constituency whereas Democrat Party are currently having one Chumphorn MP and two Songkhla MPs of their own provide help for the party’s contestants in the upper and lower southern constituencies.
In the meantime, Pita and the Move Forward campaign teams desperately provoke first-time and adolescent voters to help push for change in their respective southern constituencies for the betterment of their own welfare though they may not have seemed to seriously lend an ear to the word of the Move Forward candidates.
On his recent campaign stumps, Pita told a crowd in Chumphorn’s Constituency 1 and Fourth Army Development Corps soldiers in Songkhla’s Constituency 6 that his party is eagerly coveting a foothold on the entire southern region where they failed to get an MP seat in the 2019 general election under the name of a dissolved Future Forward Party which has been practically turned into Pita’s party.
Though both Worapol and Thiwat are merely considered underdogs with very slim chances of a victory in Sunday’s by-election, Move Forward Party may have made their presence felt as an alternative for the first-time and adolescent voters in the southern region from now until the next general election, to say the least.
The southern by-election will very likely see either Palang Pracharath candidate Chavalit Ardharn or Democrat candidate Issarapong Mark-ampai score a victory in Chumphorn and either Palang Pracharath candidate Anukul Prueksanusak or Democrat candidate Supaporn Kamnerdpol triumph in Songkhla.
In Chumphorn, Chavalit ran for MP under the tickets of Palang Pracharath Party in the 2019 general election and was defeated by the Democrat contender who was voted into parliament and was last month deprived of MP status due to severe misconducts, rendering Sunday’s by-election to find a replacement for him, whilst Issarapong is seen as a distant relative of the deposed lawmaker. In Songkhla, Anukul is a son of former mayor Anant Prueksanusak of Sadao municipality which is part of the contested constituency whilst Supaporn is spouse of Democrat MP Dej-isma Khaothong who won the previous election in another lower southern constituency.
Smear campaigns have not been spared during the run-up to the approaching Sunday since Sirisak Onlamai, a former six-time Democrat MP of Chumphorn who has recently defected to the Palang Pracharath camp alleged that village-based healthcare volunteers had been coaxed and cajoled into canvassing, albeit in discreet fashion, for a certain candidate throughout the southern constituency whereas the Democrat campaign team accused that unknown army officers had intimidated canvassers of one of the contestants who might probably be the same as the one controversially mentioned by the veteran MP.
Palang Pracharath Party leader Prawit Wongsuwan and Palang Pracharath Party secretary-general Thammanat Prompow visited the southern constituencies in support of their partisan candidates and presented a broader perspective for potential prosperities of the entire southern region on condition that their ruling party remain the largest coalition partner in government following the next general election.
That the Palang Pracharath boss had assigned Deputy Finance Minister Santi Prompat and Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin to take care of the Chumphorn candidate and the Songkhla candidate respectively was considered high stakes in the political future of both cabinet members who had apparently failed to have Thammanat ousted as the party’s secretary-general only to please Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Prayut deposed Thammanat as deputy agriculture and cooperatives minister following last year’s no-confidence motion in which the latter had allegedly run a hush-hush plot in vain to vote down the former at parliament.
Thammanat could not help feeling sort of betrayed by partisan colleagues and has virtually taken a step back from the spotlights of the powerful government party to watch the electoral contests and see if Santi and Suchart, who are among those who had desperately preferred to get him ousted from the post of the party’s secretary general, will eventually make it or not on the upcoming Sunday.
Top: Move Forward Party’s team campaigning in the South.
Home Paget: Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat.
First insert: Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan campaigning in Songkhla.
Second insert: Democrat Party’s by-election campaign vehicle driving through Chumphon. All photo: Matichon