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Nida rector insists he took highest ethical stand in refusing watch poll release

Feb 05. 2018
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By The Nation

The controversy-plagued rector of Nida Poll has issued a statement intended to protect the integrity of the institute following the recent resignation of its poll director.

Rector Pradit Wanarat, said that he had issued the order to suspend the poll about public reaction to Deputy PM Prawit Wansuwan’s luxury watches that was to be released on January 28, an action that prompted the resignation of Nida’s director, Arnond Sakworawich.

Pradit cited three reasons that the poll lacked integrity and failed to meet academic standards.

First, the timing to conduct the poll was not appropriate, Pradit said, as the issue was under investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which has not yet reached any conclusions. So, in his view, the poll results could influence people’s perceptions and society at large, and lead to disturbance.

Second, the poll’s questions could have misled respondents to give responses that the pollsters wished to hear. 

Pradit said there were five questions posed in the poll.

First: Have your friends ever lent you luxury watches?

Second: If a politician claimed to have borrowed luxury items from friends, do you think it is true or not?

Third: Do you think such a claim on luxury item’s possession could allow probes into corruption to continue?

Fourth: Do you think a liar would corrupt?

Fifth: Would you accept protection from clans suspected of being corrupt?

Pradit said those questions clearly misled respondents, citing some television programmes that interviewed former directors of the same poll, who pointed to the misleading aspects.

For instance, said Pradit, the first question aimed to ask people with incomes lower than Bt20,000, with 61 per cent of them not having a bachelors degree, suggesting they would be unlikely to have friends who would lend them luxury watches, and their answers would end up with “never”.

The question, Pradit added, also contained emotional and loaded words, suggesting unsound polling.

His third major ethical issue related to bias. Pollsters have to be unbiased and impartial to the issues or persons subject to their polling. The director’s posts on Facebook before the poll release date showed that he was biased, Pradit said. For instance, Pradit cited a January 24 post by Arnond, which allegedly said that if Big Pom (General Prawit) survived, Too (PM Prayut) and the junta would not, cannot, because they would lose all integrity. 

Pradit statement argued that due to the three ethical and academic weaknesses, the poll was not a good poll, and because he was responsible for the integrity of the Institute, he had to issue an order to suspend it.

Pradit insisted that he had never amended the poll results in any way over the last five years. He just sometimes asked to see what subjects would be to ensure they are academically based.

Pradit insisted he has not recieved any orders to suspend the poll, and urged the public and the media to have trust in the Institute and its integrity and impartiality based on academic standards.

Arnond, who is a lecturer on business analytics and intelligence at the School of Applied Statistics, had just been appointed to lead the Nida polling office a few weeks earlier, but announced his resignation on the same date as the poll was to be released. 

He wrote on Facebook that he had decided to quit with immediate effect. “For me, academic freedom and being respected are the most important values. Even before I had a position, I always stood in society on the side of what is right.”

At first he did not mention which poll he was writing about, but it was later learned that it was the one to do with Prawit’s possession of luxury watches.

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