Lawmakers scrap EC amendment bid

Lawmakers scrap EC amendment bid

New commission left to vet poll inspectors

A group of National Legislative Assembly (NLA) members has decided to withdraw a controversial motion to seek legal amendments to nullify the selection of poll inspectors -- a move that could have further delayed the general election expected early next year.

Mahannop Detwitak, one of 36 lawmakers who supported the move, on Thursday said the group has now withdrawn its motion which was earlier presented to the NLA president.

He reasoned that since the five new election commissioners had received royal approval, it should be left to them to take over scrutiny of 616 poll inspectors chosen by the outgoing election commissioners.

The appointment of Itthiporn Boonprakong, Santhat Siriananpaiboon, Thawatchai Therdpaothai, Chatchai Chanpraisri and Pakorn Mahannop has been published in the Royal Gazette. Mr Itthiporn was also named the EC's chief.

Mr Mahannop insisted that the group had no intention of delaying the election and that the proposed legal amendments were only meant to ensure polls would be free of fraud.

Kittisak Rattanawaraha, another NLA member who sought the legal amendment, said the group has heeded public concerns about the proposed change and had decided to back down. The decision was not a loss of face, he added.

Any amendments to the organic law on the EC should be left to the next government, he said.

Former EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said on Wednesday that the new commissioners would decide whether to endorse the 616 poll inspectors shortlisted by his team.

Their names have been put up for scrutiny before appointments are expected to be announced next month.

The motion the 36 NLA members recently submitted sought to amend provisions relating to the selection of poll inspectors under the organic law governing the EC.

Some politicians condemned the move, saying it was another tactic to further delay the election expected early next year. Government insiders had warned the amendment, if it had proceeded, could have disrupted the election roadmap.

The NLA members concerned were said to be unhappy with the outgoing election commissioners who earlier this month started selecting 616 poll inspectors. It was alleged that some of these inspectors lacked experience and had political affiliations.

The lawmakers pushed to amend the organic law to strip the EC of its power to set criteria for selecting the inspectors, who will replace provincial chiefs in supervising polls.

But critics said legal amendments take too long to be approved and implemented because the amendment bill must undergo a public hearing process under Section 77 of the charter and be reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

With senator selection and the general election only months away, time was not on the EC's side, so lawmakers should not contemplate amending the organic law at this time, they said.

Poll inspectors will help the EC monitor elections across the country and each province will have between five and eight.

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