Senate panel proposes 500 baht government travel allowance for voters


A Senate panel on Monday proposed that the government pay each eligible voter a travel allowance of 500 baht as an incentive for them to exercise their right to vote.

The proposal was made by the Senate committee on political developments and public inclusion.

The panel has compiled a list of suggestions for making future elections clean and fair.

The proposals were presented to the Senate meeting by Seri Suwanphanon, chairman of the committee.

Seri said a travel allowance of 500 baht would encourage voters to go to polling stations. The government would need a budget of about 20 billion baht for the allowance.

The panel also proposed changes to the electoral method, using only one ballot for constituency MP election and no ballot for party-list election.

The current method was amended recently from one-ballot to a two-ballot system. The amendments will take effect for the upcoming election, tentatively scheduled for May 7.

The current Senate is known to be dominated by senators appointed by the 2014 coup-makers, led by then Army chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is now the prime minister. The post-coup charter was seen as being written to use a one-ballot system to weaken large parties so that Prayut would have a better chance of becoming the prime minister.

The Senate panel also proposed that MPs who quit before completing the term, must shoulder the cost of holding by-elections.

After the panel presented the report, Senate Speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai warned senators against carrying out activities that would affect the upcoming MPs’ election.

Pornpetch also warned the senators against interferring in the work of the government.

He told the senators that once the House finishes its four-year tenure on March 22, the Senate cannot hold meetings until the new House is elected, unless the King grants permission for holding a special Senate meeting.