By THE NATION
The existing parties are racing against time to adhere to Order No 53/2017 of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which requires party memberships to be renewed, including the submission of documents and the payment of membership fees, by April 30.
After the Songkran holidays, there will be less than 10 working days left in April.
Anyone failing to register in time will lose their memberships and will have to re-register as new members. However, due to the yet-to-be-lifted junta ban on political movements, parties have been unable to carry out any political activities, including the acquisition of new members.
Parties, especially the bigger ones, have promised to do their best to complete the process for all their members nationwide.
The junta order has been criticised as an attempt to deliberately reduce the manpower of existing parties ahead of the upcoming election, as the military is expected to remain influential even after the poll.
Chart Thai Pattana Party director Nikorn Chamnong said that while his party had managed to use the mailing system and bank payments as ways to facilitate remote re-registration for members, it had been delayed by this month’s long holidays for post offices and banks.
“The NCPO should consider this issue and find a solution,” Nikorn said, “or they could be blamed for bullying parties in the system”.
The middle-sized Chart Thai Pattana originally had 181 members in Bangkok and 24,710 members in other provinces. It has strongholds in Suphan Buri and Uthai Thani provinces, with 4,000 and 7,000 members respectively.
The party’s leader, Theera Wongsamut, said the party faced difficulties because of the junta order banning political activities.
“I still buy PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s promise that the election will be held by next February,” Theera said. “However, we have been unable to seek new members, set up new branches or hold major meetings to update our regulations and board in line with the new charter.”
The party wants to bring new faces to its board. “New voters from the young generation have increased since the country’s last proper election. They might not know some of the old politicians. Introducing new faces should help,” he said.
Meechai Ruchuphan, the junta-appointed charter drafter, said that he firmly believed the election would be held “according to the road map” by next year despite several hindrances.
“Some might say conflicts will occur if the election doesn’t happen,” he said.
“However, I view that political conflicts are very usual due to different thoughts and ideologies. What would actually matter is conflict in the form of mob protests. People are not going to accept that.”