By THE NATION
TWO FORMER election commissioners and an ex-lawyer of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra were among the 200 senatorial candidates elected by their fellow applicants yesterday.
Former Election Commission (EC) president Supachai Somcharoen, ex-EC member Dhirawat Dhirarojvit, and lawyer Thana Benjathikul, who once served as Thaksin’s legal adviser, managed to get elected to become senatorial candidates.
The EC will later submit a list of 200 senatorial candidates – 100 from independent applicants and 100 from those nominated by eligible organisations – to the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The junta will then handpick 50 from the 200 names for the 250-member Senate.
Of the remaining 200 senators, 194 will be appointed by the NCPO, while the last six will be ex-officio members consisting of the commanders-in-chief of the three Armed Forces, the Armed Forces’ supreme commander, the Defence Ministry’s permanent secretary and the national police chief.
The election of senatorial candidates took place at Impact Hall 2 in Muang Thong Thani, Nonthaburi province, yesterday.
There were 2,746 applicants who had passed initial voting at the district and provincial levels – 2,294 of them independent applicants and 452 nominated by authorised organisations, EC president Ittiporn Boonpracong said yesterday.
However, 2,675 of the applicants reported for the final vote yesterday, while the remaining 71 failed to make it, Ittiporn added. The applicants come from 10 occupational groups.
Representatives of the US Embassy were also present at the venue to observe the vote, which the EC chief said had been carried out in a transparent manner and the applicants can testify to it.
Ittiporn added that the agency welcomed complaints from any applicants regarding possible fraud or unfair practices.
According to him, the agency will consider whether it will make public the shortlist of 200 candidates.
“It is not required by law. The law only requires the EC to submit the list to the NCPO,” he said.
Lots had to be drawn among applicants in certain occupational groups because they had won the same number of votes, Ittiporn said.
After learning that he had won the vote, Supachai, who just completed his term at the EC in August, thanked his fellow applicants for voting for him. The former EC president said he will keep his fingers crossed to see if the NCPO chooses him as one of the final 50 senators.
Thaksin’s former lawyer, Thana, meanwhile, said he believes he is well qualified for the job, though it still depends on the NCPO as to whether he will eventually become one.
“I am not anybody’s man. I was once a lawyer for politicians, but that’s my job. Currently, I’m trying to distance myself from politics,” he said.
Dhirawat said he was proud to be elected as one of the 200 candidates, adding that his experience will be a good match for the many roles a senator has to play should he be appointed to the Upper House.