Setting the rigging II

20 11 2018

When the Army chief defends the use of Article 44 by the military junta it does little more than confirm the worst fears many have about efforts to rig election boundaries. When the puppet Election Commission babbles incoherently about the reasons for the delay/extension/non-delay, the fears appear justified.

Gen Apirat Kongsompong is reported to have somewhat angrily “affirmed that the regime’s latest order allowing the Election Commission (EC) to make changes to constituency boundaries until Dec 11 will not affect the proposed Feb 24 poll date.”

What the general didn’t do was explain why the order was necessary when “a few days before it was issued, the EC said it had already completed the redrawing and was preparing to announce the new boundaries.”

Gen Apirat insisted “that the order is intended to give the EC enough time to come up with an electoral boundary map which suits both voters and parties.”

What the general didn’t do was explain why the order reportedly eliminated public and party consultation on the proposed boundaries.

More confusing is the claim by the junta that the use of Article 44 was “a response to growing criticism that the redrawing of constituencies has failed to take public input into account.”

As all of this was going on, EC president Ittiporn Boonpracong was forced to admit that “the EC had earlier issued a regulation on redrawing constituency boundaries, requiring it to announce the new constituencies in the Royal Gazette by Nov 10.” He also “admitted that the EC had, in fact, finished redrawing the constituency boundaries on Nov, 5.”

So what happened?

Unconvincingly, the EC President has been reported as claiming Article 44 was needed as his EC suddenly got derailed because he “had to have an eye surgery…”. He added: “Therefore, the announcement had to be delayed…”.

What the EC President did not explain was why his personal problem became an unsolvable national political problem. He’s not the only person in the EC. It is a bureaucratic agency based on a hierarchy, with some very senior people working there. There’s more below on this.

If it all smells fishy based on his “explanation,” it gets worse.

After conjuring up this unconvincing “explanation,” Ittiporn added: “We’ll comply with related laws and will finish the job by the deadline [Dec 11]. After all, the NCPO’s new order explicitly says the EC has to do the job by the criteria defined in the law.”

He must have forgotten that he’d already said the EC had “finished redrawing the constituency boundaries on Nov, 5.”

Getting in on this charade, “Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said … the NCPO’s new order was issued to protect the EC from accusations of malfeasance surrounding the delay.”

What Wissanu fails to explain is why more time is needed if the EC President is being truthful when he says the agency had “finished redrawing the constituency boundaries on Nov, 5.”

Ittiporn more or less confirmed the assumptions that the junta is fiddling with boundaries when he “declined to answer whether the nearly-finished constituency map had to be redone or to comment on the NCPO order…”.

The whole thing gets about as clear as mud when Wissanu admits that not all was well in the EC: “the EC president was not well and other commissioners had different opinions on the redrawn map, further delaying the process…”. Further delaying? But the EC had “finished redrawing the constituency boundaries on Nov, 5.” But what of “different opinions”? What’s going on there if the EC had “finished redrawing the constituency boundaries on Nov, 5.”

Just adding to this mix of contradictory babble, The Dictator claims that he “used his special powers to issue the order on Friday, giving the EC the mandate to do what is necessary, including ruling on complaints arising from public hearings, to make sure the redrawing of all 350 constituencies is done before Dec 11.”

What Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha doesn’t explain is when there will be public hearings. As we understand it, the EC can now decide the boundaries without public hearings.

Things are likely to get even more confused as the junta seeks to muddy the waters as much as possible as it rigs its “election.”


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