Proxy-voting MP gets 1-year jail term

Proxy-voting MP gets 1-year jail term

Thanikan: Let other MP cast House vote
Thanikan: Let other MP cast House vote

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions yesterday sentenced Thanikan Pornpongsaroj, a ruling Palang Pracharath Party MP for Bangkok, to one year in jail and ordered her to pay a 200,000-baht fine for vote fraud during the House's deliberation of a bill in 2019.

Thanikan, 42, is the first MP of the governing party to receive a jail sentence. Her MP status is now suspended. Another three Bhumjaithai Party MPs are accused in a similar case and await a court hearing.

Deliberation of Thanikan's voting irregularity was based on evidence submitted to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in 2020. The evidence centred on the defendant having given her electronic voting card to another MP who then cast a vote on her behalf despite Thanikan not being present in the chamber.

The incident occurred during the House's deliberation of a bill on Aug 8, 2019, during which Thanikan appeared in a panel discussion at the Institute of Academic Development in Dusit district at 1.42pm. However, her vote was registered in the House during the first reading of the King Rama X Rajaruchi Medal Bill at 1.41pm on that same day.

The court pointed out that voting is the right only of MPs who attend the House meeting pertaining to a bill and that proxy voting is unlawful as stipulated under article 72 of House regulations.

Her action was deemed to be malfeasance and an abuse of power that defamed parliament and the law-making process.

The OAG requested the court punish the defendant under section 172 of Anti-Corruption Act 2018. Thanikan denied violating the act.

The court handed down a one-year jail sentence for the former MP and issued a fine of 200,000 baht. However, the jail term was suspended for two years as this was the defendant's first offence.


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