Jatuporn denied

29 06 2011

PPT got it wrong a couple of days ago, confusing the lese majeste charges against red shirt leader and Puea Thai party list candidate Jatuporn Promphan and the withdrawal of his bail on charges alleging terrorism following a speech where he was accused of lese majeste.

The outcome of his continued jailing, however, looks pretty much the same whatever the reason for detention. As reported in the media today, the continued detention of Jatuporn has significant implications for the upcoming vote and Jatuporn’s political future.

This is because Jatuporn may well be disqualified when he is elected next Sunday. Given that he is No. 8 on the party list, he is sure to be elected. Denying Jatuporn his place in parliament is not going to deny Puea Thai a seat as someone lower on the list would move up. However, it would amount to an act of political revenge by his opponents.

Some think that if he is allowed to temporarily leave prison to vote, he may be safe. Will he be allowed to vote? The only precedent is “Korkaew Pikulthong, another red-shirt leader, who ran in a by-election in a Bangkok constituency while in detention, but was not allowed to leave the prison to vote.”

Election Commission member Sodsri Sattayaham has publically discussed the potential means by which Jatuporn will be disqualified.

Sodsri said if “Jatuporn is not allowed to get out of the prison to vote, but is elected, the EC would possibly not endorse his election…”. In a later story she is reported as more definitive: “Sodsri said that if Mr Jatuporn did not exercise his right, he would be considered lacking in qualifications to be an MP.”

In the earlier account, Sodsri stated that Article 26 of the Election Act means that “a person who does not vote in an election loses his or her right to run as an election candidate.”

To be honest, we are not sure which Act Sodsri is referring to here and the EC site appears virus infected, so we are not linking to it. We think that there’s probably ample scope for interpretation by the politicized EC.

Sodsri also mentions “Section 100 of the constitution prohibits a person who is in detention under a court warrant or a legal order from going to the polls.” That is accurate. However, Section 102 specifically excludes the part noted by Sodsri when dealing with the qualifications of a candidate.

In this sense, Sodsri is pointing to the possibility of a consideration that requires that Jatuporn be prevented from voting so that he would then be disqualified as a candidate because of “being under suspension of the right to vote.”

She goes on to claim that if Jatuporn was “disqualified he could petition the Supreme Court’s election cases division, because a case like this had never happened before…”.

Sodsri appears to be coaching on this matter.

Dutifully, in another report, it is revealed that within hours of receiving an application from Jatuporn’s lawyers for his temporary release to vote, the Criminal Court on denied it.

The court stated “that the charges against Mr Jatuporn are serious and there is sufficient reason to believe that he could again cause unrest in the country if allowed out of prison to vote.”


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