General News - Tuesday December 18, 2007
on the RECORD
VOTE BUYING EVIL, SAYS CHAOWARIN
Former senator Chaowarin Latthasaksiri says he was asked by deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to join the People Power party (PPP). The six-time Ratchaburi MP is standing under the proportional representation system in zone 7. He talks to SURASAK GLAHAN about vote buying, local politics and his hopes for the election.
What qualities have helped you win a seat in so many national elections?
I never bought votes when I campaigned for House and Senate elections in Ratchaburi. I've always told people here that MPs and senators are elected to make laws and so voters should not elect someone who breaks the law by buying votes from them. I told them that these vote buyers are not ethically or legally qualified to represent them as legislators in parliament if they dare to break the law at the beginning of the race to parliament.
But how can you deter fellow candidates running under the same banner in the province from indulging in the practice?
I can't deter other candidates. It is an individual's inborn trait that cannot be corrected. People who were formerly elected because of vote buying will continue to try to buy votes. This is because if they don't buy votes, they won't be elected. If a father used to do it, his children will inherit the habit. If a wife used to do it, her husband will still buy votes. You cannot tell them not to do it. But I insist vote buying is vile and vote buyers are evil.
How did you ended up joining the PPP?
Mr Thaksin personally asked me to join the party. We talked over the telephone a few times [after the coup last year] and then I went to see him in England before making the decision.
I decided to enter politics again because of the injustice perpetrated against Mr Thaksin by the coup makers and their appointed bodies. What they have done is like burning a forest in order to kill a rat.
Why didn't you run for a constituency seat, which would give you a better chance of winning than in the proportional representation contest?
I offered that option, but Mr Samak [Sundaravej, the PPP leader] told me it would be a waste of my popularity. He said I am well known, not just in the group of 15 provinces comprising zone 7 but throughout the country.
But isn't it risky to be third on the party list?
No. It's a safe position. I think the top three candidates on the lists of the three big parties in zone 7 _ the Democrats, Chart Thai and PPP _ will be elected. My estimate fits in with the parties' placement of their high-profile candidates in the top three.
Your son, Capt Akkarin, is a first-time candidate for a constituency seat in Ratchaburi. Are you confident your name can still draw support for him?
I believe what I have done won't be wasted, and my son will definitely benefit from my profile.
The PPP's key members, including yourself, have campaigned heavily to draw attention to the alleged injustices done to Mr Thaksin, as well as with promises to amend the charter and grant amnesty to the 111 banned politicians. Don't you think that after the election it will be time for the nation to move on, to concentrate on administration?
I think we have to keep a balance between administration and undoing the coup-makers' mistakes.
What qualities do you feel Mr Thaksin and Mr Samak share in common?
They are straightforward and speak their minds.