Bangkok’s first apparent governor-elect in nearly a decade, Chadchart Sittipunt, said last night that he was ready to serve all of the capital as unofficial results this morning show him headed toward a commanding victory.
The independent candidate who shot to fame as a meme and is best known for his down-to-earth image and love of cats, did not call his apparent landslide win a “victory,” but rather “the people’s will” that he means to heed.
“Right now I don’t call it a victory but rather the people’s will that I have to follow,” he said. “Let’s walk on together. Thank you.”
The 55-year-old Bangkok native garnered more than 1.3 million votes – over 50% of all votes, according to unofficial results Monday morning.
During a speech Sunday night at Stadium One after polls closed, Chadchart addressed the political divide. He said he would be governor for everyone, regardless of their political stances.
“If I were to officially become governor, I’d be ready to be everyone’s governor, whether or not they voted for me,” he said. “Bangkok is a city full of hope, and I volunteer to lead the hope for us to walk toward together.”
Chadchart campaigned to unseat the deeply unpopular incumbent Aswin Kwanmuang on promises to improve a raft of Bangkok livability issues such as traffic, the economy, and air pollution, as well as migrate public services online.
On Sunday, he defeated Suchatvee Suwansawat of the Democrat Party, who drew more than 254,000 votes; and Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn of the Move Forward Party, who earned 253,000-plus votes. Former City Hall officials Sakoltee Phattiyakul and Aswin followed with 230,000 votes and 214,000 votes, respectively.
Incumbent Aswin told reporters that the results did not take him by surprise.
“I’m not surprised and accept the people’s decisions,” Aswin said. “And I’d like to congratulate Chadchart. I wish you success in continuing the policies and projects that will benefit the people.”
Chadchart graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Chulalongkorn University. He then furthered his engineering education – receiving a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Chadchart was transportation minister from 2012 through 2014 under the government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Prior to the gubernatorial election, he was a member of opposition Pheu Thai Party. He left in 2019, announcing his intention to compete with other Bangkok gubernatorial candidates to lead the special administrative division.
Sunday’s election marked the first Bangkok governor’s election in nine years. The last was held in March, 2013, with Sukhumbhand Paribatra winning the position. In 2016, Sukhumbhand was replaced by the junta, which appointed Aswin.