(14 March) The Transport Minister who has been hailed on the internet as "the strongest Minister on earth" has denied media reports which suggest that he may run in the next Bangkok Governor election.
The speculation that the celebrity minister, Mr. Chatchart Sittipan, may represent Pheu Thai Party in the race surfaces almost as soon as the current Governor, Mr. Sukhumbhand Paribatra was handed "yellow card" by the Election Commission for his alleged violation of election laws during the March 2013 gubernatorial election.
The penalty meant a new election might be called by December this year; the case is pending a verdict by the Court of Appeals which may or may not drop the penalty handed down by the EC.
However, the uncertainty of the new election does not stop political observers from speculating which candidate Pheu Thai Party will adopt to challenge the solid Democrat voting base in Bangkok metropolis.
Due to his fame and status as a cult hero on the internet, Mr. Chatchart was promptly named as a possible candidate by a number of media. Mr. Chatchart rose to prominence thanks to his attempts to improve the abysmal state of Thai public transport system with "hands on approaches" – riding and inspecting those transports by himself.
Whether those visits were done out of Mr. Chatchart's genuine care for public safety or his need for publicity stunts is not clear, but much of the public nevertheless praised him as the first top governmental official who bothers to experience and investigate the common folk's problems.
Some political analysts consequently expect him to easily muster enough swing votes and convert sizable number of urban voters to turn the table against the current Democrat Governor.
But Mr. Chatchart reportedly refused to run in the Bangkok gubernatorial race today. In a report published by Matichon, Mr. Chatchart was quoted of saying that he has not thought of joining the election, and no one in Pheu Thai Party has invited him to do so either.
Mr. Chatchart also explained that the wide array of responsibilities as a Bangkok Governor are beyond his skill to handle.
"Just because I have a good popularity doesn't mean I can do a good job of running Bangkok," Mr. Chatchart was quoted as saying, "And it doesn't mean people will vote for me as a governor. They are completely different stories".
Meanwhile, a recent verbal skirmish broke out between Mr. Chatchart and chairman of the Democrat Party, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, who suggested in a televised interview that the Transport Minister should not use his ability to serve the evil regime of Pheu Thai Party.
"It's a pity that a person who has been praised by the online word as the strongest man on earth is serving an evil system," Mr. Abhisit said on Blue Sky TV yesterday.
The Transport Minister hit back in a Facebook post published this morning, in which he stated that he never judged anyone as good or evil, and he has been simply doing his job in the best way possible.
"[Mr. Abhisit] and I can't judge for other people who is bad, and who is good, because we both have stakes in the matter," Mr. Chathchart wrote, "We have to let the people judge for themselves".
Related Story: Read Khaosod English's interview with Transport Minister Chatchart Sittipan last year HERE
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