By Thai Newsroom Reporters
FORMER ELECTION COMMISSIONER Somchai Srisutthiyakorn today (Jan. 17) suggested any candidates defeated in yesterday’s by-election for MP either in Chumphorn or Songkhla file a truthful, evidence-based complaint of an allegedly unfair race to parliament so that an “orange card” might probably be issued by the polling agency and the mini-race to parliament be held again.
An “orange card” can warrant an official cancellation of all results of the by-election in either one southern constituency or both and a subsequent rerun of the by-election in which the candidates against whom hard evidence of vote-buying or rigging allegations might be filed and enclosed with substantiating evidence will be prohibited from contesting again, Somchai commented.
If provided hard evidence of the alleged violation of the law, the polling agency may either issue a “yellow card” or an “orange card” with all results of the by-election being officially called off and the mini-race to parliament held again. The “yellow card” will allow the accused candidates to run in the new election if they are not found directly involved in the alleged wrongdoing but the “orange card” will not provide such leniency if they are found otherwise.
The first runner-up contestant in either southern constituency may decide against lodging a petition against the winning candidate since both have been largely viewed as archrivals of each other but also-rans such as those who may have come up as the second or third runner-up may do so for the sake of a fair and clean election, according to the former election commissioner.
Somchai, now director of Rangsit University’s Political Research and Development, said he has been unofficially reported of vote-buying allegations involving certain candidates in both Chumphorn’s Constituency 1 and Songkhla’s Constituency 6.
The Democrat Party candidates Issarapong Mark-ampai and Supaporn Kamnerdpol scored victories over the Palang Pracharath Party contenders Chavalit Ardharn and Anukul Prueksanusak in Chumphorn and Songkhla respectively.
Given pieces of evidence of vote-buying or electoral rigging filed by any defeated candidates against the winning ones, the Election Commission may finally call off the results of the recent by-election for MP in either constituency or both and subsequently hold a new by-election with the accused contestants being no longer allowed to run until after a one-year time, according to the former election commissioner.
However, Somchai remarked that the family-based relationships and powers of local canvassers campaigning in support of one party’s candidates decisively outperformed the powers of state mechanism allegedly applied by another party in both southern constituencies.
The winning Democrat candidate in Chumphorn is distantly related to one of the two deposed Democrat MPs for whom the by-election was held to find replacements whereas the winning Democrat contestant in Songkhla is spouse of a current Democrat MP of the same province.
Meanwhile, Palang Pracharath Party secretary-general Thammanat Prompow commented that it was not the candidate running under his party’s ticket in Chumphorn but the police who have allegedly obtained pieces of vote-buying evidence in the southern constituency.
The police have reportedly obtained evidence of a Chumphorn constituent receiving some cash from a suspected vote-buyer and handing his ID card to him. The ID card was believed to have been kept with the vote-buyer and returned to its owner on the polling date or a day earlier.
Thammanat commented that what used to be “a party with a clean record” had never been expected to get involved in such “outrageous” vote-buying and electoral rigging allegations and doubted if the polling agency would finally call yesterday’s race to parliament a clean and fair one at all.
In spite of being the largest coalition partner in government, the Palang Pracharath secretary-general admitted that his party had been “ill-prepared” to contest the by-election on the predominantly Democrat turf in the southern region.
Nevertheless, Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Boonyamanee of the Democrat Party dared the Palang Pracharath Party secretary-general to produce any evidence of vote-buying or electoral rigging which may have allegedly involved the winning Democrat candidates and file a relevant petition to the polling agency.
Nipon compared Thammanat to a “belligerent loser” who would not concede defeat but desperately kept finding fault in his contenders.
Top: A man casting his ballot in yesterday’s by-election.
Home Page: Somchai Srisutthiyakorn with a carved representation of a palm-leaf manuscript box holding the Thai Constitution of 1932 at the Democracy Monument. Photo: Matichon