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Democrats Target Isaan Vote
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  1. #1
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    Democrats Target Isaan Vote

    DEMOCRAT PARTY
    Sweet election pledges for Isaan

    Promises include land giveaways, debt write-offs, economic zones

    The Democrat Party yesterday launched a major pre-election offensive in the North-east, its weakest area, with pledges to give away farm and, forgive debts and grant special economic privileges.

    Deputy party leader Jurin Laksanavisit told voters here that the party was considering setting up a land bank to manage vacant property inside forest reserves.

    "Parcels that are no longer forests but suitable for farming will be assembled for redistribution to farmers," he said.

    "Special titles will be issued. This will also cover plots inside forest reserve communities so that people can enjoy legal land ownership."

    If the party forms the next government it will write off loans extended to villagers by the state, Jurin said.

    He was referring to the Bt77-billion village-fund scheme used by the former Thaksin government to woo rural constituents.

    "We'll also help northeasterners restructure the other parts of villagers' debt burdens by negotiating with creditors to reschedule principal payments or suspend interest payments.

    "We'll also consider setting up a crop insurance scheme as well as a sufficiency economy fund to provide loans to farmers," he said.

    Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani will be upgraded into metropolises while Mukdahan and Nong Khai will get special economic development zones with tax exemptions and incentives provided to promote manufacturing and other industries.

    Buri Ram, Surin, Maha Sarakham and Yasothon will be grouped together to form an integrated sugar processing zone.

    Mukdahan will focus on tapioca, while provinces in Tung Kula Longhai will be promoted as an integrated rice-processing zone.

    However Surachai Bao-janya, a would-be Khon Kaen MP candidate for the People Power Party, said that despite the promises it was unlikely that people in Isaan would swing to the Democrats in the upcoming election.

    "I believe that most northeastern voters are with us and the People Power Party [backed by ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra] will win 240 or more seats nationwide to form the next government," he said.

    Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva vowed to make his party's "People First" platform the core policy for the next coalition government.

    "I will not become the next prime minister unless I can implement 'People First' agendas," he told a crowd of cheering supporters here on the second day of stumping in the region.

    Some 1,500 Democrats from the Northeast turned up for the rally before joining a party meeting, dubbed the People's Assembly, to map out key policies for the impoverished region.

    Abhisit said the December 23 election was crucial to return the country to the path of democratic rule.

    "In the upcoming vote, the Democrat Party sees a golden opportunity to guide the country and its economy forward, as well as to seek the people's mandate for the party's platform," he said.

    "I'm now 43 years old, so I'm bound to be responsible for my commitments made to gain the public trust," he said.

    Abhisit said he and his party had to earn each vote the hard way, unlike "someone who can buy his way into power".

    He voiced optimism that his party would see a successful election outcome in the Northeast, considered to be Thaksin's power base.

    Kraisak Choonhavan, the Democrats' campaign manager for the Northeast, said his party might contest only some of the 135 House seats in the region in order to focus on candidates with the best potential to win.

    In Bangkok, People Power member Chaturon Chaisang said his party would likely sweep 260-270 House seats to lead the next government.

    Chaturon claimed that the alliance of Democrat, Chat Thai and Mahachon parties would trail his party.

    Former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said he was assessing public sentiment before finalising his campaign plans.

    "If the people call for my re-election bid, I might run under the banner of a small party," he said, revealing that he was in contact with many parties.

    He would choose a party willing to adopt his policies if he decided to come out of retirement, he said, adding that his other option was to form a new party.

    Two executives of Ruam Jai Thai Chat Pattana Party said their party's negotiations with Chavalit had reached an impasse.

    "If Chavalit will lead a new party, that's good for him because my party can move on without him," party executive Pradit Pataraprasith said.

    Another executive, Anek Laothamatas, said talks collapsed because Chavalit appeared unable to make up his mind about his terms for joining the party.

    The Nation


    KHON KAEN

  2. #2
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    Re: Democrats Target Isaan Vote

    I am sure the residents of Thailand's northeast region have heard these promises more than a few times in their lifespan.

    Chavalit tried to transform himself into a Lao-speaking sticky rice eater previously and had some success, but abandoned the region during the economic crisis of a decade ago.

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