Chiang Mai goes to polls while air quality remains the most polluted in the world

Photo: Sanook and Twitter/ Fashion by Ploy
Photo: Sanook and Twitter/ Fashion by Ploy

Refusing to let the world’s worst air pollution hold them back, Chiang Mai citizens are braving hazardous smog levels to exercise their right to vote today in Thailand’s first election in eight years.

With a jaw-dropping Air Quality Index (AQI) score of 435, Chiang Mai has topped the “world’s worst” chart once again — leading Bangladesh, the runner-up and also a regular contender for the title, by more than 200 points.

Screenshot: Air Visuals
Screenshot: Air Visuals

Any score over 300 falls under the most dangerous category possible: “Hazardous,” which means everyone “may experience more serious health effects” and should avoid going outdoors altogether.

Earlier this morning, at 7am, the northern tourist town’s score hit an unbelievable AQI of 585 before settling down to a still-eye-watering number in the 400s.

Despite this, thousands of mask-wearing citizens have already taken to the polls today.

Leading the crowd at 8am was Chiang Mai Governor Supachai Iamsuwa, who cast his vote at the San Sai District station as the polls opened.  

He encouraged fellow citizens to cast their ballots today, predicting that over 80 percent of those eligible will vote, reported Prachachat.

Meanwhile, lines formed early morning at Chiang Mai University, where students flocked to the school’s voting stations — with some arriving as early as 6am, two hours before the polls even opened.

Elsewhere in the province, Thai movie star Ananda Everingham was spotted voting at about 10am, while about an hour later, a bit of unintended drama ensued in Saraphi district.

That’s where 79-year-old Mool Cheudang was arrested for ripping up his ballot. Any action done to intentionally destroy or cause damage to the ballot is considered a violation of the Election Commission’s laws.  

However, while Mool confessed to tearing the ballot after being taken to the police station, he said it wasn’t done in protest, but because he simply mistakenly thought it was protocol, according to Matichon.

He is reportedly still being interrogated by officials.

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