The Bangkok gubernatorial election will be happening on May 22, 2022. In this voter’s guide to the candidates, we’ve provided a brief overview of each of the major candidates’ previous roles and proposed policies.
Wiroj Lakkanadisorn (1) (Move Forward)
Former Member of Parliament
The Move Forward Party politician was one of the party’s most outspoken MPs in parliament, well known for his contributions in various no-confidence debates against the Prayut administration. He was a fierce critic of the government’s vaccination strategy and alleged social media information operations. Prior to entering politics, he worked in the private sector for almost 20 years. Now campaigning to be Bangkok’s chief executive, Wiroj has declared his willingness to fight for Bangkokians so that he can create “a city where all are equal.” To this end, he has announced 12 policies:
- Welfare benefits for the young, the elderly and the disabled: all above 60 will receive 1,000 baht a month, all children will receive 1,200 baht a month and all disabled people will receive 1,200 baht a month.
- Free vaccines: Pneumococcal, flu and dengue vaccines will become free. Community health centers will become accessible vaccination spots, especially for those with low income.
- Decentralize local budgets: Communities and districts can decide on how their budgets are used through voting.
- Affordable housing: 1,000 units in the heart of Bangkok will be built within 4 years, with rents between 3,500-9,000 baht
- Reduce transportation costs: Bus prices will be subsidized, lines will increase and connectivity between bus, train and boat lines will be improved. Bangkok will jointly operate boat lines with the private sector. A single ticket will be used for all train systems, and there will no longer be entry fees.
- Increase rubbish collection fees for big shopping malls: Revenue will be used on other priorities. Rubbish collection will become more timely and effective, and people in communities will be hired to pick up trash in areas that are not accessed by Bangkok’s rubbish collection trucks.
- Invest 5 million baht into every Bangkok child development center: Meals, equipment and facilities will be improved, while teachers and caregivers must become regular employees. Teachers specializing in children with learning disorders should be hired.
- Build an education system where all can pursue their dreams: Cut out unnecessary subjects, ensure that schools are bullying-free zones, develop after-school childcare facilities, invest in quality online education, provide coupons for learning outside the classroom and improve school facilities and meals
- Conduct pipe dredging: funding for water tunnels will be repurposed for pipe dredging. Rainwater and wastewater systems will be separated. A ‘single command’ system for water management will be established.
- Transform abandoned spots into green spaces: Bangkok will buy or rent empty land to develop into parks. Landowners who agree to allow Bangkok to develop parks on empty land will be exempted from the property tax. Bangkok regulations will be amended to mandate green spaces in front of new buildings. Public spaces will become safe spaces for protests.
- Good sidewalks: Sidewalks will be redesigned, especially in areas where electricity wires may be brought underground. Stalls will not be permitted on sidewalks narrower than 3.2 meters. Systems for trapping fat from street food will be added.
- Eliminating bribes and corruption: Bangkok will enter the Open Government Partnership, and citizens will be able to scrutinize procurement data online. A hotline on corruption will be established so citizens can report issues to the governor.
Sakoltee Phattiyakul (3) (Independent)
Former Deputy Governor of Bangkok
Sakoltee, a former Bangkok MP and PDRC leader, most recently served as deputy governor of Bangkok where he had responsibility over various agencies covering areas such as law enforcement, disaster prevention, traffic and social development. Policies that he helped push include bringing electric boats to Khlong Padung Khrung Kasem and Khlong Saen Saeb and greater enforcement of traffic laws prohibiting motorcyclists on sidewalks. He says that he entered the contest because he feels that although he has gained experience from his time in City Hall, being deputy governor meant he was constrained in what policies he could push. Previously a member of the Democrat and Palang Pracharath parties, he is now running as an independent with the slogan “Bangkok can be better.” He has proposed policies in six key areas:
- Transportation: Bus, rail and boat systems will become better connected. Two BTS lines will be built: the grey (Watcharapol-Thonglor) and silver (Bangna-Suvanabhumi) lines. Feeder systems of electric vehicles to bring people to the train systems will be established. Automated Traffic Control systems will be used to control traffic lights. Electric boats will run in Khlong Saensab, Khlong Ladprao and Khlong Prem Prachakorn.
- Public health: 69 health centers will be established as Smart Clinics with telemedicine capabilities; the number of health centers will also be increased. 11 public hospitals will become specialized hospitals.
- Education: There must be quality bilingual public schools near every home. Specialized schools will be established. Free and nutritious school meals will be available. New classes on earning money while in school will be taught.
- Environment, safety and urban planning: AI-controlled CCTV cameras will be added. Bangkok will build “smart poles” that combine wifi, lighting, CCTV cameras and PM2.5 indicators. Public parks will be built in all 50 districts. Bangkok will become stricter on issues such as motorcycles riding on sidewalks.
- Administration: Bangkok will build a BKK One Stop Service to increase efficiency, encourage working from home to reduce traffic issues, and create a Bangkok Super App that contains all city services.
- Economy, society and tourism: Walking streets will be established in all 50 districts. Bangkok’s skills training schools will be modernized to support finding employment. City Hall will support employing disabled people. Street food stalls will not be permitted to affect usage of sidewalks by pedestrians.
Suchatvee Suwansawat (4) (Democrat)
Former President, King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL)
“P’Ae,” as Suchatvee is widely known, is known for his engineering expertise and role in administrating KMITL. He assisted with the construction of the Bangkok subway. At KMITL, he reformed its administration along MIT’s model, formed a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to create CMLK University, and founded various new projects such as King Mongkut’s International Demonstration School, KMITL Hospital and a medical device innovation center. With what he says is a 30-year long desire to become governor, he has now entered the race with a mission to turn Bangkok into “ASEAN’s model welfare city.” His policies include:
- Plentiful jobs and income: Bangkok will set up a fund dedicated to community employment. Bangkokians must be able to access the internet for free. The city will host 12 major festivals, while each of the 50 districts will also have its own festivals to boost the economy.
- Quality public health and doctors: Health centers will receive modern medical equipment. Specialized care will be available 3 days a week at these centers. An emergency notification system will be connected with the vital signs of elderly people without caretakers so that medical personnel can be alerted when immediate attention is needed.
- Good education near every home: Bangkok will develop 50 model schools, for each of the 50 districts. Native speakers of foreign languages will be hired with the aim that students become trilingual. Students will also be encouraged to study music, sports and classes for the “age of disruption” such as coding, robotics, the metaverse, artificial intelligence and e-commerce. Spending for school meals will increase from 20 to 40 baht per meal.
- Fixing traffic: Artificial intelligence and demanding some road space back from construction sites will be used to fix Bangkok’s traffic issues. Sidewalks will be upgraded to international standards. Traffic laws will be enforced strictly. Floating bike lanes will be built.
- Ending Bangkok’s repeated flooding issue: Underground detention basins will be built to prevent flooding. Electric pumps and automatic floodgates will be installed. Bangkok will begin a project aimed at protecting the city from sea level rise.
- Making the city safe and livable: Bangkok will crack down on irresponsible construction. City Hall will “declare war on PM2.5 pollution” by setting up 2,000 air quality measurement stations and enforcing laws against polluting trucks and buses. Bangkok’s rubbish collection system will be reformed. “Pocket parks” (small community parks) will be built.
Aswin Kwanmuang (6) (Independent – Rak Khrung Thep Group)
Former Governor of Bangkok
A former police officer, Aswin was appointed as governor after his predecessor, Sukhumband Paribatra, was ousted by the NCPO in 2016. He is now campaigning to be elected in his own right. He is selling himself as a “doer” with accomplishments such as reducing the number of flood-prone areas, building infrastructure such as roads and tunnels, revitalizing Bangkok’s khlongs (most notably Khlong Saen Sab, now a major tourist attraction), bringing some power lines underground, increasing the budget for school meals, creating green spaces and opening hospitals. As a result, Aswin has declared that “Bangkok has changed” under his governorship and that the city must continue moving forward. He has proposed eight policies he will continue if elected to a second term:
- Fixing flooding issues: 9 areas continue to be at risk of flooding; these will be tackled.
- Making transportation convenient: Car, rail and boat lines will be connected. BTS fares will be reduced and more electric boats will be added.
- Quality public health: Bangkokians will be able to see a doctor within 60 minutes of setting up an appointment. Medicine will be delivered to homes, and telemedicine options will be offered.
- The environment: City Hall will continue adding more green spaces to achieve at least 10 square meters of green space per person.
- Turning Bangkok into a city of learning: Bangkok’s children must experience both physical and mental development so that they can learn both skills and knowledge. Funding for school meals will be increased.
- Public safety: CCTV cameras will be increased at particularly dangerous spots and along khlongs. Roads and pedestrian crossings will be improved.
- Making Bangkok a digital city: Access to government services will become more equitable with digital systems.
- Taking care of everyone, of every age: Everyone must be able to receive fast government services and benefits.
Rosana Tositrakul (7) (Independent)
Former Bangkok Senator
Rosana made her name with her activism on consumer rights and combating corruption. Her notable successes include stopping the privatization of the Electrical Generating Authority of Thailand and exposing corruption in the Ministry of Public Health’s procurement of medical equipment. Arguing that she never disappointed Bangkokians as senator, Rosana is asking for another opportunity to serve as governor. Her priority is to eliminate corruption, which will ensure that Bangkok can deliver on the following eight priorities:
- Benefits of 3,000 baht for every eldery Bangkokian.
- Discontinue the BTS monopoly on the skytrain system and reduce ticket fees to 20 baht for the entire line.
- Free Thai medicine and herbal treatment for every household to facilitate living normally with Covid-19.
- Decentralize budgets of 50 million baht for every district so that local people can decide how funds are used to solve problems.
- Conduct canal dredging in 1,600 khlongs to help relieve floods and revive tourism in the style of the “Venice of the East”.
- Establish a “solar cell fund” so that every household can save 500 baht in electricity fees every month.
- Put up 500,000 CCTV cameras so that Bangkok is safe both on land and water routes.
- Develop 69 health centers into 24 hour hospitals to reduce waiting times.
Chadchart Sittipunt (8) (Independent)
Former Minister of Transport
Chadchart left the Pheu Thai Party, under whose banner he previously ran for prime minister and served as Minister of Transport, to run for Bangkok governor as an independent. As transport minister, Chadchart’s achievements include amending plans for Bang Sue Central Station to support high speed rail and laying new train tracks in northern Thailand. His goal is to build a “city that is livable for everyone.” Chadchart was also an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of engineering and advised the Thaksin and Samak governments on transportation. As he has introduced a total of 200 policies under nine policy areas adapted from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index, only a cursory glance at his proposals will be available here.
- Good environment: Bangkok will reduce pollution by establishing a team to investigate its causes, proactively monitoring factory pollution levels, stopping polluting cars and expanding the pollution alert system. Green spaces will be increased by planting 1 million trees, building more parks within a 15 minute walking range and making them more accessible, and hiring professional arborists to take care of trees within each district. Rubbish management will be improved by furthering waste separation, adding smaller rubbish trucks and providing benefits for rubbish collection officials.
- Good health: Doctors will become more accessible by developing health volunteers into caregivers, providing telemedicine services and mobile medical units. Clinics for LGBTQI+, diseases afflicting urbanites and mental health issues will be provided, and Bangkok’s health centers will receive more resources. Bangkok will evaluate its response to the COVID 19 pandemic so that it does not repeat the same mistakes in the future, and connect patient data across Bangkok into a standard data set.
- Good transportation: To fix Bangkok’s traffic problems, a joint command center with the police and related agencies will be established, Intelligent Traffic Management Systems (ITMS) will be used to manage traffic, and new roads will be built to relieve congestion. The city will become more walkable with 1,000 km of quality pavements, quality bike parking, safe pedestrian crossings. Communication lines will be brought underground. Both major and minor bus routes will be added at cheap prices, transportation hubs to connect different modes of transportation will be built, and new boat services will be considered.
- Good safety: Bangkok will become safer by creating a BKK Risk Map, upgrading CCTV cameras, allowing the public to request CCTV footage conveniently and ensuring that bus stops are brightly lit. Bangkok’s capacity to respond to incidents will be improved by providing responders with more training, creating an equipment catalog for emergency situations, creating a Tactical Operation Center to connect the center with operations at incident scenes, ensuring that personnel continually rehearse for various emergency situations, and adding fire hydrants. Bangkok will systematically assist the homeless by creating safe homes and connecting them with Bangkok’s skills training schools.
- Good management: Bangkok will encourage greater public involvement by creating a public comment platform, a young peoples’ assembly, participatory budgeting , providing open data and using the ‘Traffy Fondue’ application. City Hall will also become more transparent by publishing procurement data, evaluating returns on investment in city projects, punishing corrupt officials, decreasing officials’ room for subjective judgement and developing a monitoring system.
- Good structures: Bangkok will support housing development, study housing incubators for first jobbers, and cooperate with other agencies in developing housing for those with low income and creating a database on areas where construction would be particularly effective. Bangkok will further develop the city’s infrastructure, seek to distribute growth and reduce congestion in the inner city using the ‘satellite city model,’ develop and utilize geo-spatial data and modernize the city planning regulations. Bangkok will also dredge and clean 3,000 km of pipes, improve floodgates and pumps and fix dykes along the Chao Phraya river and major khlongs.
- Good economy: To increase economic activity, Bangkok will host 12 major festivals, build up the identity of 50 neighborhoods, support the creative economy along with hi-tech and hi-touch technology, and develop channels for creative “Made in Bangkok” products. To facilitate ease of doing business, Bangkok will find technology volunteers to assist with digital activities, digitize the bureaucratic system, develop monitoring systems for permit requests, and form a committee comprised of both the public and private sectors to find solutions to Bangkok’s economic problems. Bangkok will also address the issue of street vendors by involving them and other stakeholders in taking care of commercial areas, registering and monitoring vendors and providing skills training.
- Good creativity: Bangkok will support libraries by providing e-books, developing co-working spaces, providing free wifi and bringing mobile libraries and learning spaces to students. City Hall and Lan Khon Muang square will be used as a museum and creative space. Art will be displayed throughout the city, and multipurpose spaces for public discussion and performances will be provided. A platform containing information about creative spaces in the city will be developed, and street shows will be encouraged.
- Good education: Bangkok will take better care of students by providing free education, uniforms and textbooks, while providing after school programs and opening schools on weekends to be used as activity spaces for local children and their communities. Curricula for young children will be developed, and students will have the opportunity to learn three languages. Computer skills courses will be developed, with modernized computer labs. Teacher benefits will be increased, while their administrative burden will be reduced through the use of technology so they have more time to spend with students. A Digital Talent team will be formed to support schools.
Sita Tivari (11) (Thai Sang Thai)
Former Member of Parliament
A former F-16 pilot, Sita previously served as Member of Parliament and the Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson under Thaksin Shinawatra. As a close associate of Sudarat Keyuraphan, he is running under the Thai Sang Thai banner. He has declared that he will uphold the “3Ps” as his key principles:
- People: Bangkok will invest in people by ensuring that the city develops “educational excellence.” Bangkok’s schools must meet equal standards so that inequality can be reduced. Bangkokians will be able to participate in governance and budget scrutiny through local assemblies. Decentralized scrutiny will help reduce corruption.
- Profit: Bangkok must be a wealthy metropolis by pursuing a “Peoples’ Credit Fund,” which is the Thai Sang Thai Party’s main policy. Ordinary people must be able to take loans at the interest rate of 1% a month. Bangkok must become the “street food capital” of the world, with spaces for vendors to sell food 24 hours a day. Local assemblies will help fix the issue of bribery. The City Law Enforcement Department must transform from being inspectors into facilitators.
- Planet: PM2.5 pollution will be reduced by stopping cars emitting smoke above acceptable standards from driving, monitoring construction sites, and planting trees. Bangkok will support the use of electric vehicles and build charging stations in every district. Electric tuk-tuks and motorcycles will also be supported. Bangkok will increase fitness spaces and hand out “smart wristbands” to encourage citizens to exercise.
It is important to note that the authority of the Bangkok governor is limited in several ways, with power over key city functions being held by agencies outside the sway of City Hall. As such, for several of the policies that the candidates have listed to be realized will require not just unilateral decision-making but the ability to cooperate with a range of stakeholders.
We hope that you will find this guide useful as you decide how you will cast your vote on May 22nd.
This article was written with assistance from Teerapat Kammarabutr.