Auntie Jury’ has over a million followers and hopes to represent the Chartpattanakla Party
A TikTok influencer from southern Thailand has added interest in the election by running as an MP candidate in Songkhla under the Chartpattanakla Party.
Many parties have aspirations of grabbing House seats in Songkhla’s constituencies this year following the 2019 victories by the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and Bhumjaithai Party over their Democrat Party rival.
In the upcoming election on May 14, Songkhla has been divided into nine constituencies, and although it has been dominating the headlines as it expects close races there between the major parties, many eyes are now on the Chartpattanakla Party candidate for Constituency 2, Jury Numkaew.
Mr Jury, previously known as Mr Trai and who became famous on TikTok as Auntie Jury, is running in Hat Yai district.
He is backed by a million-strong follower count and hopes to raise the living conditions of people in the area through e-commerce initiatives.
Mr Jury dresses up like an aunt for his TikTok clips in which he anchors his own news broadcasts using a trademark southern Thai dialect.
He also operates an online product business.
Some parties are said to have offered him 50 million baht to run under their banner, but he says he will only work with parties that share similar ideals, in particular a focus on improving local economies, overcoming the wounds of past conflicts and erasing vote-buying and nepotism in the region’s politics.
Mr Jury said being an MP candidate for Songkhla was a childhood ambition — which may soon be realised.
At university, he studied law and pursued his interest in politics by lending support to the Palang Chon Party, among others.
After graduation, Mr Jury took a position in the civil service and then worked as a news anchor for about five years. Following that stint, he applied his experience to online media, content creation and sales.
His strategy is to canvass political campaigns via live broadcasting online for 60-70% of the time and to then spend 30-40% of his time engaged in face-to-face interaction with locals.
He has also been encouraging small-scale business operators in Hat Yai, such as Kim Yong and Otop markets, to break into online markets for at least 50% of their products, so that every vendor can earn income despite low numbers of tourists visiting each market.
“The party has received positive feedback from villagers while we’ve been canvassing,” he said.
“Although we have no idea how many votes we will get, it will surely be a phenomenon. The polls suggest our popularity is higher than that of our rivals.
“The election this time will definitely be intense. I was even accused of being involved in vote-buying, which I already made clear via social media that I have nothing to do with,” he said.
His Facebook page has about 800,000 followers, 100,000 of whom are found to be locals in Hat Yai.
The party has scored 63% in a local poll result.
Having Korn Chatikavanij as party leader is also a factor in the popularity boost.
“I just hope to effectively represent the interests of villagers and drive a more modern type of politics that leads to the area’s growth,” he said.