All about the EC

23 11 2018

The Election Commission is on all front pages today in a series of stories responding to criticism and perceptions that the EC is doing the junta’s work.

For a body that has dubious constitutional credibility and that is a puppet for the military dictatorship this criticism amounts to a proxy attack on the junta itself.

Perhaps the biggest story and weakest response is on the potential for the junta to engage in boundary rigging. Of course, the EC denies that the junta’s extraordinary intervention to delay the EC’s publication of boundaries amounts to anything underhanded.

The problem for the EC and its credibility is that its chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong is unconvincing. He says “he did not think the regime invoked Section 44” to benefit its devil parties.

So why? According to reports, Ittiporn says “the order only provides an opportunity for the EC to address complaints from political parties and voters who say the redrawing of constituencies has failed to take public input into account.”

It is not at all clear that this is a fact. First, it must be asked that if there were complaints from parties, which parties had the privilege of knowing what the boundaries were? Was it the devil parties? Second, as we understand the intervention, it is to allow the EC to avoid public scrutiny. Why was that?

The EC chairman keeps banging on about law. He knows as well as everyone else that Article 44 is a law unto itself (well, unto The Dictator) and is only “law” because the junta dictates it.

When he says the law prevents the junta from intervening, he’s treating the public as idiots.

As head of the Puea Thai Party’s legal team Chusak Sirinil explained when he “expressed discomfort over the junta order that legalises any decisions on constituency mapping by the EC no matter whether they were in line with the existing laws,” he stated:

Pheu Thai would like answers from the EC – will you really go against the law and disregard electoral laws? The junta order obviously suggests and opens way for the EC to do anything.

He continued, saying:

…there was no other way to look at it, but as an intervention by the junta to tamper with electoral boundaries. Mapping constituencies is one of the fundamental issues in an election, Chusak said. If it is not done freely and fairly, it is impossible to believe that the whole voting process will be free and fair….

Well, it can’t be free and fair, but the point he makes is worth considering. The Democrat Party agreed that rigging was in the EC’s wind.

Even the Bangkok Post points out that Ittiporn is lying by omission, having “previously admitted the EC had tentatively finished redrawing the constituency boundaries on Nov 5 although it has not yet announced them.”

Then there’s the still unconfirmed election date. Ittiporn says that there’s no reason for a delay from the proposed 24 February. He then adds that the junta can intervene on date at any time it wants.

Meanwhile, the junta’s National Legislative Assembly has finally been made the EC whole and legal by appointing, in secret session, two commissioners. Earlier in the year there was debate about whether the currently operating EC was legal and constitutional.

A final report on the EC has it deciding to “investigate” its bosses in the junta over their recent cash splash of 63 billion baht – the linked report now has it at nearly 87 billion baht – into short-term cash handouts targeting low-income earners and retired officials.

Here’s a real chance for EC chairman Ittiporn to prove his “independence” and go beyond legalistic and/or vague non-answers. Will he have sufficient spine for the task? Will he really be permitted to investigate the junta?

Perhaps there’s evidence for him in the news reports that a junta devil party executive of the Palang Pracharath Party, Anucha Nakhasai “leapt to the defence of the government’s cash handout schemes.” He reckoned the cash handouts were the best thing since boiled rice, and “challenged parties which were critical of the packages to announce that they will scrap these measures if they take power after the poll.” Indicating that the handouts were a vote-buying scheme, he added, “And let’s wait and see if the 14.5 million people who stand to benefit from the measures will vote for you on Feb 24…”.


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29 11 2018
Boundaries managed | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Unsurprisingly and revealingly, it was the junta’s Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who made the announcement, a few days after the EC reported that it was finished (again). […]

29 11 2018
Boundaries managed | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Unsurprisingly and revealingly, it was the junta’s Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who made the announcement, a few days after the EC reported that it was finished (again). […]

30 11 2018
Boundaries managed I | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Unsurprisingly and revealingly, it was the junta’s Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who made the announcement, a few days after the EC reported that it was finished (again). […]