Pressure mounts for collusion probe

Pressure mounts for collusion probe

EC urged to examine 'back-up party' plans

Jarungwit Phumma, secretary-general of the Election Commission, said Tuesday the commission investigating the Pheu Thai Party. (Photo via Public Relations Department)
Jarungwit Phumma, secretary-general of the Election Commission, said Tuesday the commission investigating the Pheu Thai Party. (Photo via Public Relations Department)

Pressure has mounted on the Election Commission (EC) to look into whether the Pheu Thai, Pheu Tham and Pheu Chart parties are colluding to win the next election.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Tuesday the EC is a law enforcement agency and the poll regulator. It must establish if having "nominee parties" is against the law. "The law is quite clear in its intention to ban any act of collusion by political parties," he said.

A question was posed to the Democrat leader whether "branch parties" operated by a political party constituted its proxies and if such proxies were against the law. Critics say Pheu Thai, Pheu Tham and Pheu Chart appeared to be closely connected.

It has been reported that Pheu Thai could potentially transfer its members and candidates over to Pheu Tham, which has already registered with the EC, according to pundits. It is widely seen as Pheu Thai's "back-up party" in the event of a "political accident", a reference to party dissolution.

Pheu Chart, which registered several years ago, is meant to accommodate former red-shirt leaders affiliated with Pheu Thai, a source said.

Jatuporn Prompan, former chairman of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, said Tuesday that Pheu Thai members who already have constituencies to contest in the next poll did not need to join Pheu Chart.

"But those with no place to run [in the next election] are welcome to join Pheu Chart," Mr Jatuporn said. "The constitution was built on the idea that parties joining forces will have a better chance of winning than those who contest in the poll separately."

Jumping into the fray of criticism against collusion of parties, Suriyasai Katasila, co-founder of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party (ACT), said he was surprised to hear of Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam downplaying the reports that a political party may be bankrolling back-up parties.

In a Facebook post, Mr Suriyasai said he was also perplexed by Mr Wissanu's view that it was acceptable for Pheu Thai core members to meet with former sibling prime ministers, Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra overseas. The members were accused of acting on Thaksin's directives in managing the party's affairs, which is an offence under the organic law on political parties.

Mr Suriyasai said Mr Wissanu suggested the members were free to meet anyone and that new parties may be registered if one has the money and intelligence to run them.

The ACT co-founder said he was concerned a remark expressed by someone important in the government could cause repercussions to the EC, which is probing the Pheu Thai in connection with Thaksin's alleged dominance of it. Mr Suriyasai did not elaborate.

The EC, meanwhile, said the the organic law on political parties only stated that forming parties is a right and a freedom which can be exercised if at least 500 people with a similar ideology can organise and have one million baht between them to contribute toward registered capital.

The EC earlier said there was no strong evidence to confirm that Thaksin controls Pheu Thai.

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