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Pattaya City Council Dissolved After Fight Over ฿200 Million CCTV Bid

Will elections be called to replaced panel appointed by junta?

The Pattaya City Council disbanded after half its members resigned in apparent protest over a 200-million-baht contract for closed-circuit TV cameras.

Council Chairman Anan Angkanawisai announced the dissolution of the panel Aug. 11 following the resignations of Wasan Naowniew, Chakorn Kanjawattana, Saksit Yaemsri and Choluek Chotekamjorn who comprised half of the eight remaining members of the council, which originally had 12 members appointed by the previous junta in 2016.

With fewer than the six required members, the council was automatically dissolved. Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome said he will send a letter to Chonburi’s governor asking for either new members to be appointment or a special election called.

None of the city council members running Pattaya for the past five years ever stood for a public vote.

The four who resigned didn’t give a reason for stepping down, but they quit a day after a furious city council debate over spending another 200 million baht on more CCTV cameras.

The city council was proposed after the Royal Thai Police last year said it would pay for the installation of 9,000 more cameras after Pattaya City Hall spent hundreds of millions of baht over the past decade to buy cameras and practically nothing to maintain them, leaving most CCTV units in Pattaya inoperable.

Police officials said last year that the 9,000 cameras would cost 30 million baht. But the contact put before the council for an undisclosed number of cameras. Half of the council protested, claiming they believed the city was wasting money and that they needed more information before voting.

The matter finally was put to a secret ballot, with the vote split 4-4. Anan then tabled the measure and held it over for more discuss at a scheduled Aug. 13 council meeting.

That meeting now will not happen.

The city council was appointed by an Interior Ministry committee chaired by then-Chonburi Gov. Khomsan Ekachai June 30, 2016 to replace the elected 24-member panel, which was disbanded when their members’ terms expired two weeks before.

Under the junta, which seized power in May 2014, no new local or national elections are allowed until 2019 and the National Council for Peace and Order steadily replaced elected governments throughout the country with its own people.

Two senior military officers were among 12 bureaucrats, police and business officials appointed by the regime. Adm. Srivisut Rodarun, former commander of the Sattahip Naval Base, was one of the last four left standing this week. Col. Pope-anan Luanganuwat, ex-deputy commander of Military Circle 14, resigned some time ago when he was transferred to a new post.

Resigning Thursday were Saksit, a former Baan Suan Subdistrict mayor. Choluek, ex-chairman of the Lawyers Council of Pattaya, Wasan, previous director of Chonburi Primary Education Department, and former Banglamung District Chief Chakorn Kanjawattana, along with Choduk, another civil servant.

Others who resigned between 2016 and 2020 and were never replaced included Pol. Maj. Gen. Anan Charoenchasri, former deputy commander for Provincial Police Region 2, Chaloem Prasarthong, then-head of the Chonburi Local Development Department, and Wiwat Mahapolsirikul, former head of public works for the Chonburi Town Planning Department.

Besides council Chairman Anan and Srivisut, the other two left when the council collapsed were Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, former president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association and Thanat Supharuehatrangsri, chairman of the Chonburi Tourism Industry Council.

Anan said he was proud of his five years of service, especially as it related to budget matters. He made it a point to say that all council members had worked honestly and never benefitted personally from their city work, despite several being prominent Pattaya business owners.

The story first appeared in the Pattaya Mail, a Bangkok Herald partner.