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Election commissioners cut short overseas trip

Mar 03. 2017
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By The Nation

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Four Election Commission (EC) members have decided to return to Thailand earlier than the original schedules following a controversy over their ongoing field trips in East Asian countries, an informed source said on Friday.

EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen and election commissioner Pravich Rattanapian are to fly from South Korea on Friday night, and commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn on Saturday. 

Election commissioner Theerawat Theerarojwit is to head back from Japan on Saturday. 

However, election commissioner Boonsong Noisophon is going to fly back on Sunday, in accordance with the original schedule.

They all are to meet on Monday, with the overseas trips likely to be in the agenda.

The commissioners are accompanying participants to an EC high-level executive training course to observe election procedures in Japan and South Korea. According to the EC’s acting secretary-general Jarungwit Phumma, the Japan team observed the campaigning system while the Korea team studied development of voting machines and civic education.

The trips were held amid a question among the public as to whether such overseas journeys were necessary at a time when the Kingdom has no schedules for any election.

The high-level course, active since 2009, receives annually allocated budget of Bt10.5 million from the EC fund for improvement of political parties. The organic law on political parties prohibits the use of this fund for overseas trips in the future. 

In 2015, the government ordered all bureaucratic agencies to refrain from making overseas field trips. The order, however, was effective only in that fiscal year.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha also said that he would let the Office of Auditor General to inspect the EC’s trips. “I always say that any field trip needs to be reported to me,” Prayut said.

In a phone call from South Korea, Jarungwit admitted that the EC did not inform the premier ahead of the trips. “But he said the trips can be done when it is necessary and as long as it is economical – an advice that we follow,” he said. 

Jarungwit said both trips were economically organised and did not cost more than Bt5 million. “The commissioners also needed to travel along, in order to honour the hosts in the hope that we got good hospitality in return,” he said.


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