Thai election campaigns intensify with parties promising perks

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha campaigning in Bangkok on Jan 9 as a prime ministerial candidate for the United Thai Nation Party. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK – Thailand’s major political parties are ramping up their policy promises to cement a foothold in regional bastions ahead of a general election in May.

Campaigning in north Thailand’s Chiang Rai province on Saturday, the main opposition Pheu Thai Party vowed to treble farmers’ income during the first four years in office if elected.

That will be achieved by introducing new farming technology, said Mr Prommin Lertsuriyadej, head of the party’s policy committee.

The party will also seek to generate more tax revenue to finance development through income earned from trade, tourism and farming, while it plans to introduce a three-year debt moratorium for farmers and improve the so-called 30 baht (S$1.20) universal healthcare programme.

Meanwhile, the United Thai Nation Party, which Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is a member of, rallied in north-eastern Nakhon Ratchasima province.

He touted the government’s infrastructure investment programme as the largest in three decades and an investment for future generations. He pledged to create a fund to shore up crop prices in the north-east if voted into power.

Mr Prayut is the top choice for premier among voters in the three southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, according to the results of a poll by the National Institute of Development Administration released on Sunday.

Out of about 1,100 eligible voters surveyed, almost 20 per cent said the incumbent Prime Minister is their preferred choice, while 18 per cent support Mr Wan Muhamad Noor Matha of the Prachachat Party, and 17 per cent back Ms Paetongtarn Shinawatra of Pheu Thai.

Mr Prayut has said he will dissolve Parliament in March, paving the way for the election. He has not given a specific date, but the general election is tentatively scheduled for May 7.

If he dissolves the House as late as March 22 – just one day before its term ends – the election can be held by May 21 at the latest. BLOOMBERG

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