University warned over constitution document

University warned over constitution document

The sun sets behind the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. (Photo by Panumas Sanguanwong)
The sun sets behind the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. (Photo by Panumas Sanguanwong)

An election official warned on Saturday that Mahidol University's Institute of Peace and Human Rights Studies could be skating on thin ice following the release of its latest charter document.

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a member of the Election Commission, said the institution should be careful because its "Thailand's Future After the Referendum Part 2" document was close to violating the referendum law.

Section 61 of the referendum law prohibits the spreading of false and vulgar content or inciting intimidating messages, but Mr Somchai stopped short of discussing the detail of the document's content.

"Thailand's Future After the Referendum Part 2" involves the main question, as well as the extra question of whether the Senate should join the House of Representatives in selecting a prime minister, to be asked at the Aug 7 referendum, while Part 1 concerns why the referendum is to be held.

Mr Somchai also listed three documents that he said were clearly in violation of the referendum law.

They are the New Democracy Movement's "Seven Reasons to Reject the Charter" leaflet; several thousands of letters mailed to residents in Chiang Mai, Lampang and Lamphun; and a summary of the draft charter in eight lines on the StopFakeThailand Facebook page.

However, Mr Somchai said he personally felt that the NDM's "Counter Arguments of the Constitution Draft Part 2" document did not violate the referendum law. But he stressed that was only his own opinion.

Rangsiman Rome, a key member of the NDM, yesterday urged Mr Somchai to explain why the group's document infringed on the referendum law, saying the group cannot defend or explain itself if Mr Somchai does not elaborate.

However, he said the group would continue distributing copies of the document to the public ahead of the referendum.

Mr Rangsiman also noted that the Constitution Drafting Committee summary of the draft charter that was mailed to people's homes was also brief and could result in some misunderstandings.

He cited as an example the CDC's summary of the origin of the Senate, saying the document failed to say the first Senate under the draft constitution would be handpicked by the regime and would serve for five years.

Meanwhile, the EC will introduce the use of electronic ID card readers in an advance charter vote on a trial basis.

Mr Somchai said the ID card readers will be deployed at three polling units in Prachin Buri and one unit in Lop Buri where 5,000 and 1,700 people are respectively registered for advance voting.

The device is expected to help poll officials shorten the time spent on verifying eligible voters. The normal process takes a few minutes per voter while the device can reduce the time to just three seconds.

According to Mr Somchai, the device could also prevent fraud by multiple voting and could provide voter turnout figures shortly after polls close.

He said if the test is successful, the EC will consider using the device in a general election.

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