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.”





Puppet Election Commission criticized

18 11 2018

In a follow-up to our most recent post on election rigging,, the Bangkok Post reports that the Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-NET) “is calling on the Election Commission (EC) to exercise independence in redrawing the election constituencies, saying it is a first step towards a free and fair election.”

P-NET is “urging the poll agency to be independent in doing its job and take into account factors such as demographic changes, public participation and voter convenience, in demarcating the boundaries of constituencies.”

In fact, these are all things that were “promised,” but the military junta’s use of Article 44 now makes the whole process opaque, secretive and manipulable.

P-NET calls the junta’s intervention “outright interference,” noting that the dictatorship’s intervention “comes after the EC completed the job and was about to publish it in the Royal Gazette.”

It adds that the junta’s intervention “may lead to the unfair carving out of electoral boundaries in the favour of certain parties, especially pro-military ones…”. The use of the word “may” is rather too weak; it seems clear that this is what the military junta is doing.

One important quibble is with the notion that boundary setting is “a first step towards a free and fair election.” As we have repeatedly pointed out, the military junta has engaged in massive election rigging. The first step in that was the 2014 coup itself, with the major effort being the rule-setting that began with the junta’s 2016 constitution, which led to a cascade of rules meant to rig the election. That makes electoral boundary interference only the most recent step.





Setting the rigging I

18 11 2018

The Bangkok Post has yet another politically timid story on the military junta’s elections. Indeed, the Post seems to move ever closer to the military tyrants.

In this story, it mentions that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “has signed an order granting the Election Commission (EC) the authority to do what is necessary to resolve disputes so that the redrawing of all 350 constituencies are done by the Dec 10 deadline.”

That order invokes Article 44 of the 2014 interim charter, that remains in force to allow The Dictator to do anything he wants.

The story then “explains” that the use of dictatorial power results from “complaints by several parties about the constituency map proposed by the EC and inadequate and incomprehensive [sic.] hearings on them.”

So The Dictator has decided that his puppet EC can do as it wants (or as it is ordered) in the event of complaints and screw the process. It also absolves the EC from legal responsibilities: “The EC’s decisions or actions shall be considered legitimate, constitutional and final…”.

This order trashes an earlier junta order “requiring public hearings on the new map before the EC approves it.” We can only guess that this now clears the way for junta boundary rigging should The Dictator decide this is necessary for his parties to triumph.

Thai PBS has a different take. It reports a junta spokesman as saying the order will “give more time for the Election Commission to demarcate constituency boundaries…”.

In fact, if there are no hearings and no scrutiny of the puppet agency, then “more time” makes no sense at all. With hearings gone, the process should require less time. If the EC is taking more time and dumping scrutiny and hearings then the conclusion is that  the junta wants more time to seek benefit for its parties.

This is confirmed when that spokesman “insisted that there was no hidden agenda behind the order…”. When the junta says such things, you can be pretty certain it is up to no good.





February or May? Still rigged

14 11 2018

Not that many hours ago we posted on the likelihood that the military junta’s rigged election might be further delayed until May. We did that along with several other media outlets.

The junta has reacted saying it is still planning for 24 February. Deputy Slitherer Wissanu Krea-ngam said “there was no reason to delay the general election again…”. He then added: “So far there is no reason [to postpone the polls] and there’s no chance the EC [Election Commission] will not be ready. If the elections are delayed, it will be because of others…”.

Meanwhile, devil party Palang Pracharath has opened for anti-democrat members. The Nation reports that just 121 signed uo on the first day. We assume this number is so low because, in line with its hierarchical bosses, the junta sycophants only signed up “big names.”

Slithering into the party and oblivious to calls for something like ethical standards, were three serving Cabinet members. They were: Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, who is the party leader; Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, the secretary-general; and Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool, the party’s spokesman.

Among others lining up to lick military boots was Nida Poll director Napong Noppaket. Yes, the man who produces poll results each week. Now we understand why the Nida polls are so suspect.

Uttama confirmed that he will be nominating The Dictator as his party’s candidate for prime minister following the election.

The election, whenever it is finally held will be rigged.





The EU election challenge

9 11 2018

It was less than a week ago that PPT posted on Foreign Minister and junta slitherer Don Pramudwinai rejecting suggestions that the junta’s rigged election could be observed by foreigners.

We considered Don’s rejection of foreign election observers as confirming the military junta’s willingness to engage in massive election fraud.

Don has now rejected foreign election observers several times. Only a day after his latest rejection, it becomes clear why he’s been so agitated.

The Election Commission has “revealed that the European Union has proposed to send an army of observers to monitor the polling expected in February next year.” The EC said the “EU wants to send as many as 200-400 observers to monitor the election nation-wide.”

As the EC said, such a “huge number of poll observers proposed by EU is unprecedented…”.

The EC “has yet to formally consider the request,” but they seem to have consulted their political masters in the junta and Don is fretting.

Of course, having foreign observers is nothing new. Even the EC calls it “a normal practice.”





The impossibility of a free and fair election

5 11 2018

PPT has felt a little lonely over the past few years as we have repeatedly pointed out that the military junta’s “election” cannot be free or fair.

So it is that we are gratified to read in The Nation an account of a seminar that comes to the same conclusion.

“Towards a Free and Fair Election: Situation in Thai Society” at Thammasat University discussed the path to the next general election. As PPT usually has it, this is the arranged, crafted, fixed and rigged election being held by the junta, hoping it can cement its political rule. “Hoping” is likely to involve any measure necessary to steal the election.

The “speakers at a panel discussion … held the opinion that a free and fair national vote without the influence of the ruling junta seems unlikely.” As well as refusing to (so far) “lift the ban on political activities,” the junta is accused of having “extend[ed]… its control over the Election Commission (EC),” resulting in “an ‘unfair’ system.”

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch stated:

To be free and fair, there must be equal access to national media, resources, a fair election-supervising authority, as well as political freedom of electorate, candidates, and political parties…. But as freedom of expression, association and assembly – the main characteristics of a democratic society – remain blocked, Thailand should have other countries coming to observe the electoral process….

The junta has already rejected the idea of observers as amounting to an assault on the national “face.” Of course, the junta also wants not witnesses to its electoral shenanigans.

Puea Thai’s Chaturon Chaisaeng also “said he did not think the upcoming election would be a free and fair one.” He observed: “The bans on political campaigning when the election is drawing near point to a lack of democracy and fairness.”

Of course, those bans do not apply to the junta and its associated anti-democrat parties.

Gothom Arya, a former election commissioner, “also called on the EC to help prevent people in power from taking advantage over other political players in the run-up to the next election.” He accused the junta of interfering with the EC.

For PPT, it is not just a matter of the junta stopping its control of the EC, telling it what to do. The problem is that the EC is not independent and its members will “naturally” work for their bosses.

Will the junta’s election be fair? No. Will it be free? No. Could another party do well enough to “win”? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. But even if an anti-junta party triumphs, it will be forever hamstrung and tightly restricted by the junta’s (non) independent agencies, rules, laws and a myriad of controls put in place by the military junta.





Campaigning, monarchy and the puppet Election Commission

26 10 2018

Perhaps the news of the day is the Deputy Dictator’s seeming confirmation that he and The Dictator are indeed planning for a 24 February election.

The junta has responded to a reported clash of that (maybe) “election” date with university entrance examinations. In essence, they have told the Ministry of Education and the universities to sort out the clash. While this isn’t an official announcement, it is a kind of confirmation.

The junta remains secretive as it wants to keep all the “election” cards in its hands.

Which leads to Suthep Thaugsuban and his anti-democratic party, Action Coalition for Thailand. As we posted yesterday, ACT is actively campaigning. This seems to be in violation of the military dictatorship’s “rules” on political activity that is applied to most political parties but not the ministers-party-executives-cabinet-members-junta-minions of the Palang Pracharath Party.

Following media discussion of the double standards involved, the puppet Election Commission has mumbled something about it watching all parties. Double standards-driven members of the junta were lukewarm about ACT’s electoral campaigning but were hardly condemnatory and certainly didn’t demand the EC “investigate,” in the manner it did with another anti-junta party.

Apparently, no person has lodged a complaint with the EC about ACT. The EC’s “investigation” of Puea Thai continues.

Meanwhile, back on the campaign trail, Suthep and ACT leader, the minor prince, Chatumongkol Sonakul and 50 other party members, most from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, went to a dead king monument – Rama I – “where they held a ceremony to pay homage to the late King and took an oath to be a party loyal to the monarchy.”

What was that about the monarchy being above politics?

ACT could not possibly swear loyalty to democracy because they are determined anti-democrats.