Today I was told by a local resident of Pa Ha that voters for No 1 were paid 1000 baht for a vote and for No 3 1500, during the November 3rd elections for the Mayor of Chiang Mai.
Between them if they paid for every vote they got, these two candidates spent over 60 million baht, not including billboards etc between them, to garner 82% of votes.
Meanwhile prominent candidate No 4 , who ran a strong issues based campaign put out his leaflets wrapped in a government leaflet advising of penalties for voters who sell their vote had only 14% of the votes cast.
Before election day candidate No 7 was disqualified on a technicality which casts doubt on the probity of the Chiang Mai election committee.
Considering these serious allegations, surely it is appropriate to call for a re-run of the election?
Chiang Mai should declare an amnesty for all who participated in illegal events, invite all seven candidates to stand again if they wish, and allow no campaigning other than a number of broadcast community forums where each candidate is given equal time to present a case.
To oversee the process a new election committee should be formed by selecting people at random from the electoral role as is done in the British jury system.
Of course this will not be “true democracy” as all candidates are wealthy, but the extreme wealth of some of their backers can be removed from the electoral equation, the new mayor will have enhanced legitimacy, and future elections may see candidates of modest means able to stand.
Note , here above I accuse no person of giving or taking a bribe, but the rumors that we all hear, such as quoted above accuse the whole adult voting population of our city, with the possible exception of voters for No 4, of involvement in electoral corruption.
As Chiang Mai people we can either say “Yes we are from Chiang Mai and we live by corruption”, or demand a re-run of the election.