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EC commissioner insists equal treatment for agencies if removed from office

Nov 15. 2016
Somchai
Somchai
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By Chanikarn Phumhiran,
Olarn Lertrattanadamrongkul
The Nation

1,964 Viewed

ELECTION Commission member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn yesterday directly addressed chief charter writer Meechai Ruchupan over new qualifications that could apply to commissioners of independent agencies, saying he wanted to hear from Meechai that new rules were to be imposed on everyone equally.

He said reports should stop focusing solely on the EC, adding that if members are removed from office for lacking qualifications, other agencies including the Constitution Court should follow the same rules.

His remarks came after speculation that some EC members might have to leave office if they are disqualified by a new organic law being drafted by the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC). Charter writers have insisted that they will not reset the agency to square one.

Somchai said some of the new rules written in the CDC’s organic election law were innovative but could be difficult to implement.

Besides the confusion over the qualifications of independent agency commissioners, Somchai said the idea to remove provincial election commissioners and replace them with non-permanent officials who only worked during elections was unrealistic.

He said it would be difficult to find hundreds of officials ready to work in provinces for a month or two, because everyone would already have a job. In addition, such officials would lack knowledge about the areas where they worked, making it difficult for them to do their jobs.

In addition to Somchai, the EC’s acting deputy secretary-general Jarungwit Phumma yesterday expressed disagreement regarding the possible new qualifications, questioning if such a move would violate general legal principles and how disqualified commissioners would be compensated. 

Jarungwit added that the CDC did not have an intention to replace the EC members as had been suggested, but he was concerned that the imposition of new qualifications on current members would result in their tenures being cut short. 

Party reset mulled 

If members have to leave office in line with a new law, they would lose their posts four or five years before scheduled according to the current law, Jarungwit said, questioning how the state would compensate the members for the loss. He said he agreed with the general principle that the commissioners’ rights should be upheld unless there were damages incurred. 

Some reports have suggested that political parties could also be reset, abolishing existing parties and requiring new ones to organise. 

However, CDC chief Meechai Ruchupan said yesterday that charter writers could not dismiss the EC board or political parties, except those that were already subject to dissolution, such as small parties that had not followed the law. 

Some people have argued that a reset was a good idea because it would force both large and small parties to start anew, but Meechai said he disagreed with the concept and that it would take at least a year to establish new parties. 

The chief drafter also insisted that the CDC had listened to everyone’s opinions but was not obligated to implement those opinions in practice. He added that everyone should be considerate of political parties and the EC. 

If people acted incautiously, they would cause more trouble, Meechai said, adding that the CDC already faced a lot of trouble writing organic laws that strictly adhere to the new charter.

 

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