ACT's 'walk' might violate election law

ACT's 'walk' might violate election law

EC warns all parties to plan events carefully

Suthep Thaugsuban, co-founder of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party (ACT), says he was not playing politics, but merely taking another 'walk to meet people' along with other ACT leaders in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Suthep Thaugsuban, co-founder of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party (ACT), says he was not playing politics, but merely taking another 'walk to meet people' along with other ACT leaders in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The Election Commission (EC) will have to look into the Action Coalition for Thailand Party's (ACT) latest political activity which was claimed to be a mere walk to meet the people.

However, it was seen as an election campaign by some, which is still prohibited, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said Thursday.

The walk, which kicked off Thursday morning, is led by former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who is now a co-founder of the party.

Asked whether the ACT's movement was lawful, Gen Prawit said he wasn't in a position to decide.

It's the EC's responsibility to look into the details and find out what the party's motive was and whether that is against the election laws or not, said Gen Prawit.

The ACT's walk was similar to that of the alleged interference by the Pheu Thai Party's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which the EC will have to investigate.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda warned that it is the responsibility of each party to study the election laws carefully before deciding to launch any political activities.

This would help avoid legal hassles later when someone petitions the EC to seek the court's interpretation whether such an activity was against election laws.

Although no one has formally lodged a complaint with the EC, the election regulator has been collecting evidence of suspicious movements by various parties for future investigation, said Gen Anupong.

Newly appointed government spokesman Buddhipongse Punnakanta, on behalf of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, said the government has no authority to give an order to the EC or meddle with its authority in regulating the election.

Mr Suthep and ACT leader MR Chatumongkol Sonakul led about 50 co-founders in the party's first walk to the Monument of King Rama I where they held a ceremony to pay homage to the late King and took an oath to be a party loyal to the monarchy.

After that, the group took a walk to meet people in nearby areas, including Pak Khlong Talat.

Mr Suthep insisted the party's walk was by no means an election campaign event, saying the activity was actually a walk to pay respect.

He also insisted he would not take any position in the party when it holds a general assembly on Dec 15 to select executives.

EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma confirmed the EC is monitoring every party which holds events that can be deemed a violation of the election laws.

Currently, party activities remain partly restricted under the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) power for the sake of national security, he said.

So far the EC has yet to receive any report about any party suspected of flouting the NCPO's partial restrictions on political activities.

In the Pheu Thai Party case, the EC was looking into several allegations made against the party and if there are grounds to believe the allegations are true, a panel will be formed to formally investigate the claims.

The ACT plans to continue its walk in Bangkok until the end of this month.


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