Pheu Thai turns to EC on 'poachers'

Pheu Thai turns to EC on 'poachers'

Both major parties have complained that their members are being hoovered up by the pro-military supporters, but a Pheu Thai politician now has filed a formal complaint.
Both major parties have complained that their members are being hoovered up by the pro-military supporters, but a Pheu Thai politician now has filed a formal complaint.

A Pheu Thai Party politician is pressing for legal action against the Palang Pracharat Party and individuals, including government figures, for poaching former MPs from other parties.

Suchart Lainamngern, a former Pheu Thai MP for Lop Buri, filed a petition Monday with the Election Commission (EC), demanding that the commission deny Palang Pracharat's application to establish itself as a political party.

He also pressed the EC to seek the prosecution of leaders of the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) group of politicians who allegedly paid former MPs from various parties to defect to Palang Pracharat. The petition was presented to Samapol Porapol, director of the EC's political affairs office.

Mr Suchart alleged Palang Pracharat was taking advantage of other parties even though it has not yet gained full status as a political party. The EC is currently reviewing applications to form parties, including Palang Pracharat's.

Palang Pracharat is reported to be a vehicle for securing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's return as prime minister after the next election tentatively set for February.

Palang Pracharat, whose registered leader is Chuan Chujan, is backed by government figures who hold high office, Mr Suchart said. These figures are abusing their positions by resorting to means that violate the constitution to poach former MPs and draw them to join Palang Pracharat, he added. The charter bars political post holders from using state resources or manpower to engage in acts which can influence an election.

Mr Suchart also claimed government figures had instructed the Sam Mitr leaders to offer rewards to the former MPs in exchange for their defections. This breaches Sections 30 and 31 of the organic law on political parties which prohibit anyone or a political party from promising or giving cash or kind for defections or party membership subscriptions.

Offenders are liable for a fine of up to 200,000 baht and/or a prison term of between five and 10 years. They also lose their right to run in elections for five years.

A senior government figure helped draft Palang Pracharat's policies at Government House. He also met former MPs at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bangkok in early May to negotiate a defection deal and show them Palang Pracharat's 10-point election manifesto, alleges Mr Suchart.

Mr Suchart said the government figure made it clear that unless the groundwork for the manifesto to succeed is put in place, there will not be a general election.

The Sam Mitr leaders had contacted at least two former Pheu Thai MPs and made them a defection offer, according to Mr Suchart. Evidence of such a deal is in a Line application chat message, the record of which Mr Suchart submitted along with the petition to the EC on Monrday.

Mr Suchart added the former MPs targeted by Sam Mitr are grouped according to their potential of being elected. The defection deals vary from group to group.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon denied the regime was biased in favour of Sam Mitr by not acting against the group for organising a political gathering last week in Pathum Thani to announce it was joining the Palang Pracharat Party.

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