An interview with Chumpol Krootkaew, founder of the new Klang (moderate) party.
From IT consultant for the National Anti-Corruption Commission to political hopeful under the new Klang (moderate) party, Chumpol “Jung” Krootkaew, 48, plans to let data and technology dictate his policies—if and when the fledgling party gets enough members. Here, the self-confessed geek-since-childhood and ultra-marathon runner explains why technology is the way out of Thailand’s political impasse.
Why did you decide to become a politician?
Because I wanted to overcome a greater challenge [than trail runs]. Now I want to do something for society.
What are some of your policies?
I want to use technology and data to help create policies, to reduce inequality and create equality in fairness. I want to use technology to make it possible for people to vote directly [on policy] without going through [elected council] representatives. I’m a firm believer in democracy but I also don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that has the perfect democracy. Democracy needs to be from everyone, not just representatives. Voting is not the best answer to decision-making. Before voting, you need to make sure that everyone has received enough information, and be prepared to lose first. Everyone only focuses on winning and if they lose, they get defensive. The process before voting needs to be fixed.
What do you think is the most severe problem facing Thailand?
Separation. We don’t see each other as one team. Thailand focuses a lot on freedom without focusing on being on the same team. This is caused by economic and societal inequality.
What’s your own background?
I received a scholarship when I was in Grade 9 from the Development and Promotion of Science and Technology Talents Project (DPST), who agreed to pay for my tuition through to PhD, providing I kept my grades stable. Both of my parents are teachers. Studying and getting a scholarship was my main priority so I could help my parents cut the costs for my tuition. I was always mature for my age. When I was a kid I would debate American politics with my dad and read law textbooks. Everyone expected me to be a doctor because I was a very smart kid, but it was never my personal dream until I got the DPST scholarship, then I wanted to be a scientist.
What do you do in your spare time?
I play guitar, or harmonica, and I love traveling. On top of that I like to run. Every year I would sign up for an ultra-marathon, for a distance that I felt I couldn’t do, so I could train to overcome the impossible. Last year I ran 1,600km in Nepal. It took me 48 days. I felt like I didn’t conquer anything but myself. After that I didn’t want to do any more trail runs.
What do you think about the junta regime?
I don’t really agree with how the military government came into power. That’s not democracy, but that doesn’t mean everything they do is bad.
What can your party offer that others can’t?
My party offers a platform for Thai people to take a greater interest in politics. I think that’s a good start towards making the country better.