KHON KAEN – Over 150 “Vote No” supporters paraded through Khon Kaen City yesterday as part of their ongoing Northeastern campaign. Representatives from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and the For Heaven and Earth Party led the crowds on their march.
PAD launched the nationwide “Vote No” campaign on June 4 because its leaders had little hope for meaningful change after the July 3 election. Yesterday’s demonstrators were not, however, unified by one color or even by one cause.
“I vote no because [current candidates] only want money and power,” said Jakhawan Agachat, 51, while she handed out information pamphlets.
Brathuan Broongkamma, on the other hand, voiced disapproval of politicians’ behavior. “We’ve noticed politicians act as animals in the parliament. They’re impolite, just like animals,” explained the For Heaven and Earth supporter, as he shook his placard of a buffalo in a suit.
Another demonstrator, who identified himself as Ajarn Jinda, was more concerned with a corrupt voting system than with the candidates themselves. “I don’t believe in the voting process in Thailand. People don’t focus enough on the process. They only focus on who will be the next prime minister,” he complained.
As the multi-colored demonstrators arrived at the city shrine, they were greeted by a booming recording of PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul, still asserting his dedication to defending his homeland against Cambodian encroachment.
Despite the disparity in complaints voiced by supporters, Panich Tiasawad, leader of Yellow Shirts in Khon Kaen and a spokesperson for the “Vote No” movement, hopes to appeal to Northeasterners. “We want to alert the Thai people in Khon Kaen that we want to make politics better, to make a change to good people [in government]…to strengthen the monarchy, to decrease corruption,” he said. They will continue their campaign in every district of Khon Kaen.
Dressed in a white T-shirt and blue jeans, he told reporters that the “Vote No” movement is campaigning in Isaan because the region has the highest electoral representation in government and is also home to rampant vote-buying.
With the cooperative support of the For Heaven and Earth Party, a political offshoot of the Santi Asoke sect, PAD is aiming for 5 million “no” votes on July 3. Mr. Panich insisted that the two parties work well together since “they share the same policies.”
This election, however, there is only one policy they want to talk about: vote no.