Ministry explains late NZ ballot delivery
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday explained what happened in the late delivery of 1,542 ballots from advance voting in New Zealand that were consequently declared invalid.
The ministry said in a press statement that it had worked with the Election Commission and Thailand Post in setting guidelines for the delivery of the ballots from overseas advance voting. The delivery deadline was set at 8pm on March 23, the night before the election.
The Thai embassy had dispatched the sack of ballots from Wellington via Air New Zealand on March 18, and it arrived in Auckland the same day. The ballots were due to leave on Thai Airways International flight TG 492 on March 19. The sack was delivered to a THAI cargo warehouse in Auckland on March 21.
On March 22, the Thai embassy contacted airline staff and was told that the sack was not shipped via a THAI flight on March 21 or 22. At the time, staff could not check the tracking status of the package because THAI cargo was closed, the ministry said.
On March 23, cargo staff had contacted the embassy and advised that the sack containing the ballots had left Auckland on flight TG 492 to Bangkok at 3.03pm (local time) on March 23, and was due to arrive in Thailand at 8.50pm (Thai time).
That evening, the ministry had checked and was notified the bag would arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport at 8.50pm. However, that was beyond the delivery deadline for overseas advance votes.
The ministry consulted the EC and Thailand Post and was advised that the ballots from New Zealand could not be delivered to polling stations on time. Therefore, the ministry did not collect the bag containing the ballot papers from the cargo warehouse on the night of March 23, the ministry said. Ministry staff picked up the sack on March 24, and delivered it to the EC the following day.
Earlier, Sumeth Damrongchaitham, president of Thai Airways, said the airline had followed EC protocol rigorously. The sack of ballots from New Zealand arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport at 8.50pm on Saturday.
The airline had contacted the ministry at 5pm that day, well before before the flight landed, to advise of its scheduled arrival and that the bag could be collected from the air cargo warehouse between 10pm and 10.30pm. However, no one from the ministry arrived to get the bag that night.
Learn from listening
- cargo: things that are being sent by ship, plane, train or truck - สินค้าที่บรรทุกและจัดส่งโดยเรือ เครื่องบินหรือรถไฟ
- dispatch (verb): to send someone or something somewhere - ส่งออกไป, ส่งคนออกไป
- guidelines: official instructions or advice about how to do something - สิ่งที่ช่วยแนะแนวทางให้ปฏิบัติ
- ministry: a government department that has a particular area of responsibility - กระทรวง
- protocol: a system of fixed rules and formal behaviour - ระเบียบการ
- rigorously: done carefully and with a lot of attention to detail - อย่างเข้มงวด, อย่างเคร่งครัด
- sack: a large strong bag for storing and carrying things - กระสอบ, ถุงขนาดใหญ่
- security: protection; safety from attack, harm, or damage - ความมั่นคง, ระบบรักษาความปลอดภั, ความปลอดภัย
- status: position - สถานภาพ
- warehouse: a large building for storing things - โกดังสินค้า, คลังสินค้า, โรงพัสดุ