Critics of EC law told to back down

Critics of EC law told to back down

Selection amendment risks 'bad precedent'

Members of the National Legislative Assembly are being lobbied heavily to drop their attempts to amend the organic bill on selection of election monitors. (File photo)
Members of the National Legislative Assembly are being lobbied heavily to drop their attempts to amend the organic bill on selection of election monitors. (File photo)

A group of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) members seeking a legal amendment on the selection of inspectors is being lobbied to back down, said a source close to the NLA.

The source said that the group, led by Mahannop Detwitak, is being urged to review their move out of concerns that it will trigger criticism because the amendment plan involves an organic law.

If the NLA goes ahead with the amendment, instead of a public independent agency that enforces the organic law, it could create a bad precedent, said the source.

The source added that future MPs may follow the NLA's suit by seeking to amend the election of MPs law to do away with election primaries. A motion seeking amendments requires the support of at least one-tenth of all parliament members.

"The [future] House of Representatives may use this to propose amendments to other organic laws. This might cause problems in the long run," said the source.

The proposed amendment involves the organic law governing the Election Commission (EC). It is being sought after the outgoing EC chaired by Supachai Somcharoen selected 616 poll inspectors to be deployed in 77 provinces including Bangkok.

The planned amendment will focus on the selection process of poll inspectors. Critics are concerned that some election inspectors lack experience and may have political affiliations.

Poll inspectors will play an important role in the elections and are tasked with investigating poll complaints and forwarding them to the EC for consideration. Their role can result in the suspension of an election or even change the outcome in a constituency.

The source said one possible solutions is for the outgoing EC to stall endorsement of the poll inspectors, and let new commissioners re-examine the qualifications of the candidates.

Mr Mahannop said last week that he supported the amendment because he found the rules issued by the outgoing EC "unacceptable", especially the composition of the panel tasked with selecting poll inspectors.

Politicians and critics of the regime see the move as a tactic to further delay the general election, which is scheduled to take place in February next year.

NLA member Kittisak Rattanavaraha said Monday the motion seeking the amendment has reached the NLA president, who is expected to raise the issue with NLA whips.

Asked about the result of an ongoing online poll showing massive support for the amendment plan, he said public opinions will be taken into consideration.

He insisted the NLA has the right to seek amendments if its members find the laws have certain flaws -- but noted that the assembly will back down if the move is deemed unnecessary.

"We'll do our job in the best interest of the people," he said.

Nikorn Chamnong, director of Chartthaipattana Party, said  the plan to amend the selection of poll inspectors is likely to do more harm than good.

"How can they say it will not affect an election? It will and right now [criticism] is directed at the regime," he said.

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