Author Topic: 'Roi Et disease' cure costs locals  (Read 652 times)

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Offline Johnnie F.

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'Roi Et disease' cure costs locals
« on: June 20, 2011, 01:33:02 PM »
'Roi Et disease' cure costs locals

ROI ET : The northeastern province of Roi Et is notorious for sparking the "vote-buying epidemic" in Isan but is unusually quiet in the run-up to the July 3 election.

Macabre reminder
Red shirt demonstrators play dead yesterday in what they called a ‘‘mass planking’’ exercise to evoke memories of last year’s crackdown on anti-government protesters at Ratchaprasong Intersection in Bangkok. JETJARAS NARANONG

Many voters in Ban Non in tambon Phon Muang of At Samat district are complaining they have not seen the regular election canvassers and campaign volunteers who usually descend on the village with cash and gifts.

Ban Non is the village where ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra held a so-called "resolving poverty reality show" in 2005.

Normally, elections in the village are celebrated as events when money flows in and voters collect generous "hand-outs" of several hundred baht from the various candidates.

Others make tens of thousands of baht from being hired by parties as election campaign staff. Somchai Kandi, a 48-year-old farmer-cum-driver, said he understood that usual vote-buying activities have all but vanished from his community during this election, largely because the Pheu Thai candidates hold high hopes for a landslide victory, something recent opinion polls confirm.

Conversely, their rivals from other parties might feel there is little chance of them winning a seat from the Pheu Thai candidates, Mr Somchai said, and therefore are not wasting their money.

Gen Kriangsak Chomanan, the 15th prime minister of Thailand, won a seat in 1979 in Roi Et, which was not even his hometown, and returned as prime minister because he was the first candidate to switch from buying votes with gifts to handing out cash, Mr Somchai said.

Ever since, vote buying with cash had spread to the entire Northeast and that was where the deprecating term "Roi Et disease" came from, he said. Unlike the previous general election four years ago, there is not even a small-sized poster of the candidates or the parties posted on the fences of the villagers' houses proclaiming their allegiances.

A few reminders of the July 3 election can be found in Ban Non _ the odd election campaign vehicle equipped with an audio player and speakers roams around, some of the usual large posters of the candidates and election campaign messages come on the radio and TV from time to time.

"In the past elections, a lot of canvassers came to us and paid money. From two to three parties, each voter could get almost a thousand baht in total," Mr Somchai said.

"But now, with only a couple of weeks before the election, not a single canvasser has shown up, nor any candidate," he complained.

Bangkok Post
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