Candidate dies a day before local election

Candidate dies a day before local election

People in 76 provinces to elect more than 60,000 tambon administrators Sunday

Officials prepare for the Tha Phra tambon administration election in Khon Kaen province on Saturday. (Photo supplied by Chakkrapan Natanri)
Officials prepare for the Tha Phra tambon administration election in Khon Kaen province on Saturday. (Photo supplied by Chakkrapan Natanri)

The only candidate for chairman of a tambon administration in Prachuap Khiri Khan province has died, a day before the first local election in eight years takes place.

The provincial election commission said on Saturday Pattanatichai Kanabkaew, the chairman candidate of tambon Chaikasem, had died.

Since he was the only candidate for the position, the election for the chairman would need to be rescheduled after Sunday, when voters in all 5,300 tambons nationwide cast the ballots.

It expected the poll to take place in early January.

Mr Pattanatichai, a one-time tambon administration chairman, slipped and fell in a bathroom two weeks ago. He had since remained in hospital and died on Saturday.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Maejo University in Chiang Mai and received a master’s degree from Chiangmai University.

The tambon administrtaion organisation (TAO) elections nationwide on Sunday are the first in eight years. People in 76 provinces will vote to elect 5,300 TAO chairmen and 56,641 TAO councillors. 

The existing officials completed their four-year term in March 2018 but the National Council for Peace and Order ordered them to remain acting officials until a new election was held.

Thailand has 5,300 tambon administration organisations. They are the smallest organisations with the closest ties to people in the provinces.

A TAO has a juristic person status. Its duty is to provide public services such as keeping roads and waterways clean, collecting and managing garbage, preventing communicable diseases, providing disaster relief and conserving the environment, among others.

Its budget comes from subsidies from the government, revenue collected by the government on its behalf, revenue collected by the government and shared with it, and taxes it is entitled to collect directly, including land tax.

The TAO with the most revenue was industry-focused tambon Bang Phli Yai, Samut Prakan province, which had 638 million baht last year. The TAO with the smallest revenue was Laem Talum Puk, Nakhon Si Thammarat province, with 15.9 million baht. 

A TAO is run by the chairman and the TAO council, which serves as a legislative arm. Both the chairman and the councillors are directly elected. The council serves a four-year term from the election date.

For the purpose of the election, a village serves as a constituency. If any has fewer than 25 people, it will be combined with an adjacent village to form a constituency.

The number of councillors is closely linked to the number of constituencies in a tambon, up to six councillors in each tambon.

The Election Commission projected a 70% turnout on Sunday. On Saturday, traffic jams were already reported on Mittraphap Highway, especially in Nakhon Ratchasima, the gateway to the Northeast. Some reported it took six hours from Bangkok to the province.

Some academics have said while TAOs are closest to the people, they have been overshadowed and interfered in some cases by much stronger regional and central administrations which have overlapping duties.

They believe the TAO elections are held simply to maintain what they call the regional authoritarian system under which TAOs are turned into an extension of a centralised state and to maintain a facade of democracy.