Challenge filed against senator-elect for Bangkok

The Election Commission will forward a challenge to Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka's suitability to serve as elected senator for Bangkok to the Bangkok Election Committee, which will have 30 days to consider the case.

Khunying Jaruvan, a former auditor-general, is senator-elect for Bangkok after winning more than half a million votes on March 30. She was a long way ahead of her strongest rival, Pol Maj Gen Pisal Pakdinaruenart, who garnered about 200,000 votes.

Senator-elect Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka is accused of having "flawed" qualifications to become the senator for Bangkok. (Bangkok Post file photo)

However, the June 24 Democracy group has submitted a letter to the EC challenging her suitability and her endorsement as senator.

EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said the Election Commission itself had no authority to consider the case, and the complaint would be forwarded to the Bangkok Election Committee.

The committee would set up an investigation panel which would have 30 days to consider the case. If the investigation was not complete in 30 days, the EC would endorse the election result. The investigation report could then be considered later.

The June 24 Democracy group, led by Songchai Vimolbhattranond, alleged Khunying Jaruvan had won because appointed senator Paiboon Nititawan had spoken on the People's Democratic Reform Committee protest stage in a manner that had put other senate candidates in Bangkok at a disadvantage.

The group alleged Mr Paiboon had abused his authority by campaigning for Khunying Jaruvan and saying he would like to have her work with him as a team in the Senate.

The complaint alleged this violated Section 122 of the charter and Section 53(5) of the amendment to Section 57.

Section 122 stipulates: "Members of the House of Representatives and senators are representatives of the Thai people without being bound by any mandate, entrustment or dominance, and shall honestly perform the duties for common interests of the Thai people without any conflict of interest."

The group also asked that election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn be excluded from consideration of its complaint, questioning his impartiality.

Mr Songchai said a senator was an honourable person, but Khunying Jaruvan had been charged in five cases now being considered by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NAAC).

In the most recent case, she was accused of misappropriating state funds allocated for an Auditor General's Office seminar which turned out to be no seminar but a kathin (robe offerings for monks) ceremony sponsored by herself, he said.

In another case, she was accused of asking for free air tickets from Thai Airways International for her daughter and sister to accompany her on an overseas seminar trip, and approving their allowances for the seminar as if they were officials, he said.

The group questioned whether a person with such "flaws" was qualified for the job of senator, and asked the Election Commission to consider its complaint as soon as possible.

Mr Puchong said the Election Commission has no authority to disqualify her. The Bangkok Election Committee had the duty to consider the qualifications of candidates. There had been no petition against Khunying Jaruvan’s qualifications.

Khunying Jaruvan was a member of the now-defunct Assets Scrutiny Committee established by the 2006 coup makers to probe the wealth of politicians, especially Thaksin Shinawatra.

Related search: senate election, senator bangkok, election commission, Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka

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