Staying in same hotel does not violate electoral law: Sawang

TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2024

EC office secretary-general says there are no obvious signs of collusion among senatorial candidates, though Wednesday voting will be closely monitored

Though more than 100 senatorial election candidates are staying at the same hotel, there is no evidence of them breaking the election law, the Election Commission (EC) said on Tuesday.

Sawang Boonmee, secretary-general of the EC Office, said he inspected two hotels near the voting venue where the candidates are staying and noticed nothing untoward.

He said he had spoken to the candidates there and they said that they had chosen to stay in the same hotels so they could introduce themselves to each other.

The hotels are close to Impact Arena in Nonthaburi’s Muang Thong Thani, where national-level voting will be held on Wednesday.

It was initially rumoured that many of the candidates were staying at the same hotels so they could collude on the election results. It was also reported that strong candidates would lobby weaker candidates to vote for them in exchange for favours like money or prominent positions.

Sawang said he explained to foreign diplomats who visited him on Monday for a briefing on the ongoing election that the EC was gathering evidence of possible collusion.

However, he said, it was not easy to find evidence of wrongdoing as the law does not stop candidates from staying in the same hotel. But if any candidates are suspected of winning through collusion, then they will face a lawsuit in the Supreme Court.

“We must also have strong evidence instead of just suing them based on our own opinion,” Sawang said.

He added that if certain failed candidates were appointed as assistants or secretaries to the new senators, it could not be used as evidence, but cited as cause for suspicion.

Sawang said EC officials would also monitor hotels around Impact Arena on Tuesday night to see if any electoral laws are being violated.
The complex senatorial election system is aimed at electing 200 senators through voting in three levels – district, provincial and national.

Sawang said 3,000 candidates had passed the provincial stage of voting to participate in the national level voting. However, the number was brought down to 2,995 after five candidates were found to be unqualified.

He also reminded all candidates to report at the voting site before 9am on Wednesday.