Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban. Pic: AP.

By Fergal Barry-Murphy

After successfully occupying a number of government ministries and even the grounds of Government House in Bangkok last month, Thailand’s anti-government protesters have launched an audacious, and so far successful, bid to take over Asia Society’s 2013 Person of the Year poll.

At the time of writing Thailand’s anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban – something of a surprise candidate in the poll – was clear leader with 96.92 percent of the vote. Teenage human rights activist and 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai was in third place with 0.82 percent of the vote.

The poll asks Asia Society readers to “choose the individual who has had the most impact on Asia this year”, while admitting that the vote is “unscientific and unofficial”. The as-yet-to-be-decided victor will join past winners Aung San Suu Kyi (2011) and Imran Khan (2012).

Despite being limited to one vote per day, Thailand’s anti-government crew has dominated the voting as tension builds ahead of a planned occupation of Bangkok on January 13. Interim Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra or her self-exiled brother Thaksin were not included in the poll.

Screenshot from the Asia Society website shows Suthep out in front.

Suthep’s People’s Democratic Reform Committee and the anti-government protesters are aiming to prevent elections taking place on February 2 and instead install an undemocratic ‘people’s council’.

The poll page does not reveal how many votes have been cast so far, though the comment count of 300-plus would suggest that the vote count is most likely in the thousands. Last year Imran Khan received 11,000 votes to win with 88 percent of the total vote share. See more on that here.

Not surprisingly, messages of support for Suthep dominate the comments section of this poll, with many of the comments in Thai. However, there are a few dissenters there too…

‘Guest’ comments:

please change Poll’s name to “Help Us Choose Suthep Thaugsuban to be Person of the Year for 2013

‘Confused’ asks:

Did anyone not from Thailand vote?

‘Pethus KcuF’ comments:

One person = one vote on the poll? Our hero Suthep will be shocked that he wins under a system he is against!

‘ST’ comments:

Suthep will run in first place; the second would be Kim Jong Un; Rank by the anti democratic ideolgy of them.

To which ‘shocked’ replies:

You are so right. Maybe this vote should be called Asia’s Most Undemocratic Person of the Year for 2013?

You can vote and have your say on Asia Society’s Person of the Year Poll here. Final results should be announced later this month.

* Thanks to regular contributor @thai_talk for original tip on this story