Since Pattaya gained city status in 1978 it’s been administered under a special autonomous system where the people of Pattaya could directly elect their own mayor and city council (except for Bangkok that’s never been the case in the rest of Thailand.)
So every four years you’d have local elections and the more than 100,000 registered voters of Pattaya would elect a new mayor. In the case of outgoing mayor Ittipol Khunpluem, son of “Kamnan Poh,” the so-called godfather of Chonburi, he actually won a second four-year term in 2012 and has served the city of Pattaya for a total of eight years now.
His term will come to an end on June 16. So what will happen with the local government then?
Under “normal” circumstances you’d apparently expect another democratic election. But since Thailand has been under military rule for more than two years now (and a return to electoral democracy can’t be expected before sometime mid-2017 at earliest) elections are obviously a no-no for the time being.
So what will happen with Pattaya after June 16?
No, it’s not quite the “military taking over Pattaya” (as many Farangs have referred to the upcoming change in administration recently); in fact, the military government, through a military-appointed committee, will simply appoint 12 new city council members, with Mr Chanatpong Sriviset taking over as acting mayor. Nothing more, nothing less. So-to-say. And while no details regarding the other council members have emerged yet we’d assume they’re all civilians.
Granted, it obviously remains to be seen what impact on life in Funtown a military-appointed city council and a new military-appointed mayor will have on the city of Pattaya.
But with the new powers-that-be apparently being close to the rulers in Bangkok (also in view of a new police chief in Pattaya who assumed his position only earlier this week and apparently means business) we’d obviously expect more influence and clout by the men in green locally.
Only time will tell what, if anything, that will mean in practice for Pattaya. But it might well turn out to have a positive impact.
UPDATE – New Pattaya City Council Appointed