All Thai politicians at the moment have a very busy schedule of election campaigning. Most of the candidates only have to campaign in their own constituency. However, the big party list names have been travelling around Thailand in order to help drum up support for local candidates. The other day I told you about my experience when I joined Korn Chatikavanij on the Election Campaign Trail in my local area. Today was the turn of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to visit Samut Prakan.
Korn Chatikavanij is the Finance Minister in the caretaker government. He has a high profile and so he has his own bodyguard. Even so, local police made sure that he had additional security while he toured the constituency. On the other hand, Abhisit is the prime minister and his security detail is always much larger. Samut Prakan police were also out in force today along the entire route. I didn’t get a total but there must have been more than 500 policemen, not including undercover.
PM Abhisit spent nearly four hours travelling around Samut Prakan on top of this converted pick-up truck. When Yingluck arrived at Paknam Market (see here) she came in an air-conditioned SUV. We were all expecting her to arrive on one of the big campaign trucks. However, she did get a big welcome which is what we expected. We were all curious to what kind of greeting the Prime Minister would get. As you can see here, there were just as many people welcoming Abhisit as there were for Yingluck, if not more.
The police were really expecting trouble along the way. Although there were some Red Shirt protesters (see here) they were few in number and scattered. I noticed a number of times police standing guard near anyone that was grouped by the side of the road. I had always thought that motorcycle taxi drivers were Thaksin supporters. So, I wasn’t surprised when we neared one group of drivers and they had three policemen standing around them. But when Abhisit smiled and gave them a “wai” most of them raised ten fingers in support of his party.
Quite a few times during the tour of the province, the campaign truck carrying Abhisit and the local Democrat candidates stopped briefly so that local people could give them flowers. They also gave them water and snacks. At two markets Abhisit got down to have a walk-around and also to give a speech. Immediately he was mobbed by hundreds of people. I am sure that was a nightmare for his security detail. Many people wanted their photo taken with him or wanted to hug or kiss him. And many did much to his embarrassment.
As you can imagine there was a lot of media following Abhisit today. Most of us were on two pick-up trucks. There were also a dozen or so media cars following behind from all the major newspapers and television channels. I was the only foreigner there taking pictures, a fact which wasn’t lost on the Democrat election staff who several times told the crowds, that today news about Abhisit’s visit to Samut Prakan was going around the world as there is someone from the foreign media. Truth be told, I am not even national media. I was just taking these pictures for my local Thai newspaper.