Flawed Senate poll
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Flawed Senate poll

The wait is over. The Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday announced the names of 200 elected senators after deferring from the original schedule on July 3.

But it did not just endorse the names of the 200 senators. It also handed an orange card to winning candidate Kordiya Song-ngam from Ang Thong province on the grounds that she serves as an adviser to the president of the Ang Tong Provincial Administration, which violates the election law.

It remains unclear why the chief of this provincial administration did not reject her application right from the start. The EC endorsed a reserve senator right away yesterday. The orange-card decision is the outcome of an investigation by the EC, police and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

EC secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee admits the agency faces a huge burden and an uphill battle in trying to verify various complaints, such as accusations of collusion, unqualified candidates, and their affiliations with politicians.

So far, it has divided the cases into three groups: false qualifications, cheating during the election process, and unfair practices.

Such allegations are not unexpected as the process was flawed from the get-go.

Due to time constraints, the EC did not thoroughly check the backgrounds of the candidates in all 20 professional groups to make sure they met the requirements. The EC seems to have felt confident these problems could be dealt with later.

In the meantime, multiple complaints have been lodged with the Constitutional Court, the Central Administrative Court and the DSI by losing candidates. Their demands vary from extreme cases -- such as nullifying the entire election -- to calls to recount the votes and force further postponements. Some failed candidates have also threatened to take the EC to court on charges of malfeasance.

The outcome of the election merely lends weight to claims of collusion. Buri Ram, for instance, won 14 Senate seats, the most of any province, while the capital Bangkok won nine. Nine provinces, namely Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Lop Buri, Mae Hong Son, Tak, Narathiwat, Roi-et, Phetchabun and Sakhon Nakhon, did not get a single seat.

There are also a number of complaints about the qualifications of some candidates. For example, many questioned the PhD of a candidate who got the highest scores. That said, the EC must run a fair probe. The election law imposes strong penalties for cheating and vote-buying. For example, any candidate who knowingly submits a false qualification is liable to face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 20,000-200,000 baht. The EC must also hold any accomplices accountable.

Holding the selection process is the responsibility of the EC and, as such, it should be held to account for any damage rendered to the public if it proceeds with certifying and announcing the voting results while ignoring any suspected irregularities.

Meanwhile, the new Senate should be given a chance to perform its duty without further delay. It is a breath of fresh air for the whole country that the caretaker Senate has signalled it is ready to leave.

On Wednesday, Senator Somchai Sawangkarn was quoted by the media as saying the coup-appointed Senate is waiting for word from the president before terminating all activities. Hopefully the Upper House will do a service to the country by giving an official announcement of its departure right away.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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