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Word choice puts Abhisit on the defensive

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Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is under fire after calling on voters to "derail" the planned charter-amendment referendum. 

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Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is under fire for his use of the word "derail" in reference to the expected charter referendum. APICHIT JINAKUL

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Abhisit under fire for referendum jibe

EC's Sodsri says threats to obstruct vote illegal

Aekarach Sattaburuth

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is under fire after calling on voters to "derail" the planned charter-amendment referendum.

The government is threatening to lobby for the disbanding of the Democrat Party if he tries to obstruct the vote.

Election commissioner Sodsri Satayathum yesterday said Mr Abhisit's actions could be deemed a violation of Section 43 of the Referendum Act, which prohibits attempts to obstruct a referendum through threats or deception.

Violators face up to 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of 200,000 baht, she said.

Mr Abhisit posted an open letter on his Facebook page on Sunday, urging voters to reject changes to the constitution during the government's referendum on charter change.

In the letter, the Democrat leader called on the public to "derail" what he said was little more than an attempt by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to "whitewash" all cases involving her brother, ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

He accused the prime minister of planning to amend Section 309 of the 2007 charter, which legalised the actions of the military coup-makers in 2006.

Doing so would exonerate Thaksin of all charges brought against him after the coup that toppled his government, Mr Abhisit said in the letter.

Ms Yingluck yesterday rejected that claim, saying the final details of the charter amendment had not yet been finalised.

Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan also defended the government's effort to rewrite the constitution, saying the charter was a product of the 2006 coup. He said the cabinet had set aside a budget of 90.2 million baht to fund 108 public forums on the proposed amendment.

Asked whether Mr Abhisit's statement could lead to the Democrat Party being disbanded, Mrs Sodsri said that would be a possibility if the comments were found to breach the referendum act.

Mr Abhisit yesterday downplayed the letter. "When I said 'derail', I meant that we should act together to make sure that [the charter rewrite bid] is not approved in the referendum," he said. "I didn't mean that we should seek to block the referendum from taking place."

Democrat list-MP Ong-art Klampaibul said the party was not planning to obstruct the referendum, but was keeping a close watch on how the government organises the vote.

If the cabinet today approves the proposal to hold the referendum as expected, the EC should be able to hold the vote in March or April next year, election commissioner Sodsri said.

Voting will not be mandatory, and voters will not be subject to the usual punishments if they fail to cast their ballot in the referendum, she said.

under fire – being criticised strongly ถูกวิจารณ์, โดนว่า
referendum – an occasion when all the people of a country can vote on an important issue การลงประชามติ
jibe – an unkind or insulting remark คำพูดเยาะเย้ย, คำพูดเสียดสี
threat – saying that you might do something bad or harmful, especially in order to make someone do something  การขู่เข็ญ การคุกคาม ทำให้กลัว
obstruct – to make it difficult for something to happen or for someone or something to go somewhere ขวางทาง
opposition – of a political party that is not part of the government ฝ่ายค้าน  
derail – to prevent something from continuing in the way that it was planned ทำให้ล้มเหลว, คว่ำ (the word used by Mr Abhisit)
charter – a constitution รัฐธรรมนูญ
amendment – a change made to a law or agreement, in this case, to the constitution การแก้ไขกฎหมาย ในที่นี้หมายถึงการแก้ไขรัฐธรรมนูญ
threaten – to say that you might do something bad or harmful, especially in order to make someone do something  ขู่เข็ญ คุกคาม ทำให้กลัว
lobby – to try to influence someone, e.g., a politician, government official or the government itself ชักชวน, วิ่งเต้น
disband – (of a group) to end; to stop working together ยุบ, เลิก,ทำให้สลาย
commissioner – a member of a commission, a group of people who have been formally chosen to discover information about a problem or examine the reasons why the problem exists กรรมาธิการ  ผู้ได้รับมอบหมายอำนาจหน้าที่
deem – to consider เห็นว่า ถือว่า
violation – an action that is against a law, agreement, principle, etc. การฝ่าฝืน
Act – a law passed by a country’s government พ.ร.บ. พระราชบัญญัติ
prohibit – to not allow; to ban ห้าม
deception – the act of tricking someone by telling them something that is not true การหลอกลวง
maximum – the most possible ที่สูงสุด ที่มากที่สุด
fine – an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law ค่าปรับ
urge – to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
reject – to not accept something ปฏิเสธ ไม่ยอมรับ
whitewash – to try to stop people from discovering the true facts about something, in order to prevent someone in authority from being criticised ปกปิดสิ่งไม่ดี
involved – taking part or having a role in something เกี่ยวข้อง
ousted – forced out of a position of power ขับออกจากอำนาจ
legalise – to make something be according to the law ทำให้มีอำนาจตามกฎหมาย ทำให้ถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย
coup – the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces รัฐประหาร
exonerate – to officially state or prove that someone is not to be blamed for something ทำให้พ้นจากความผิด
charge – an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime ข้อกล่าวหา
topple – to force out of power; to cause to fall (also oust, unseat or overthrow)  โค่นอำนาจ
details – small facts or pieces of information relating to a situation รายละเอียด
finalise – to complete the last part of a plan, trip, project, etc ทำให้เสร็จสมบูรณ์
defend – to say things to support someone or something ปกป้อง
cabinet – the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy คณะรัฐมนตรี
budget – an amount of money able to be spent on something งบประมาณ
fund – to provide money for something ให้เงินทุน
forum – a place where people can express their ideas and opinions การประชุมแสดงความคิดเห็น
propose – to suggest an idea for a group to consider เสนอ
breach – to fail to follow a law or rule ละเมิดกฎข้อบังคับ
downplay – to make something seem less important or less bad than it really is แสดงหรืออธิบายถึงสิ่งใดสิ่งหนึ่งโดยแสร้งว่าไม่สำคัญหรือไม่แย่นัก
bid – an attempt to do something ความพยายาม
approve – to give official permission อนุมัต
block – to stop something from being done or from succeeding ปิด, กีดขวาง
(party-) list – a system that gives each party in an election a number of seats in relation to the number of votes its candidates receive ระบบสัดส่วน, ระบบปาร์ตี้ลิสต์
mandatory – ordered by a law or rule ตามข้อบังคับ
subject to – affected by ภายใต้บังคับ (กฎหมาย)
cast a ballot – to vote, i.e., to put a marked ballot in a ballot box ลงคะแนน, หย่อนบัตรเลือกตั้ง, ออกเสียงเลือกตั้ง

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