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Election disaster possible due to inflexibility in proposed candidate registration approach: Somchai

Nov 03. 2017
File Photo: Somchai
File Photo: Somchai
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By The Nation

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An outgoing member of the Election Commission (EC) has red-flagged the new organic bill on Lower House members, which disallows online application of election candidates, expressing concern that it could put the country at risk of losing billions in the event that brick-and-mortar application stations failed.

In a post to Facebook, Somchai Srisuthiyakorn pointed to the 2014 case in which the Constitutional Court ruled that an election was unconstitutional due to the dysfunction at some application stations.

At the time, demonstrations by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) were taking place in Bangkok and several other provinces. The protesters besieged some application stations, making it impossible for candidates to apply to run in the election. As a result, the February 2 general election could not be held successfully in some areas and the Constitutional Court declared the election illegal.

Somchai said that failure had wasted some Bt3 billion of the state budget.

Learning from the mistake, the outgoing EC had developed a parallel online system through which candidates could apply to run in the poll, while also continuing the option for people to use the traditional brick-and-mortar stations, Somchai said.

However, the new organic law allows only the traditional approach, he said.

If the events of 2014 recur, the law states that authorities could designate new stations in place of the inaccessible ones, the EC member added.

“If that is the case, then maybe candidates from Nakhon Sri Thammarat [located in the south] may have to travel all the way to Udon Thani [in the northeast] just to apply to run in an election,” Somchai wrote, implying that the traditional means was rather inflexible.

However, Somchai said the EC was ready to cooperate with the law and would not petition its constitutionality.

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