As speculation mounts that an election may be imminent, some of the great survivors of Thai politics are emerging from the woodwork. And few are tougher than the beefy, swaggering figure of former deputy interior minister, Captain Chalerm Ubumrung. A new constitution may have outlawed the traditional knuckle politics favoured by police Captain Chalerm and his rural cronies but he is refusing to be sidelined. His own party disbanded, Captain Chalerm has this week worked his way up to a senior post under former premier General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh in his New Aspiration Party (NAP). Few pundits seem to give the party any chance after a disastrous spell in power that ended in fierce protests last November. And yet the NAP is looking ever more cohesive compared with other opposition groups. Captain Chalerm has been given the key task of building up support in Bangkok - a firm Democratic stronghold and an area less than keen on the 'money politics' long favoured by General Chavalit's rural cronies. A figure more famous for his ability to snare and hold power instead of any actual policies, he is always hard to discount, striding about the capital in flashy suits surrounded by bands of senior police. Last year, as part of General Chavalit's coalition, Captain Chalerm was in charge of two key intelligence squads, monitoring the press and underground political feelings. Contacts built up during that period will prove useful as he comes to grips with his new brief.