The Election Commission has been kept busy with complaints against pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) since last week, with the latest being an accusation the party’s leader might not be qualified.
Ruangkrai Leekijwattana, a key member of Thai Raska Chart Party, on Monday asked the EC to check the qualifications of Uttama Savanayana, PPRP leader and industry minister.
The former Pheu Thai member claimed Mr Uttama was elected PPRP leader on Sept 29, more than a month before he became a party member. Records show Mr Uttama registered as a party member on Nov 13.
“If he is disqualified, it will affect the activities the party has undertaken,” he said.
Mr Ruangkrai said the law required party leader, secretary general, accountant, registrar and management executives to be party members.
Earlier on Sunday, Kiatiburut Panlert, a Yasothon man, posted a video clip on Facebook complaining people in his village in Loeng Nok Tha district, had to register as PPRP members before they could apply for government-issued welfare cards and get 100-baht cash. The card gives monthly stipends for groceries, transport and other necessities to low-income earners.
The district chief later explained in writing that the application of the welfare cards was held on Saturday at the Chotikaram temple. On the next day, PPRP set up tables to recruit party members at the same place.
An elderly woman, who he claimed might have been confused about the dates, came to the temple on Sunday in the hopes of applying for a welfare card. Party staff, thinking she was there to register as a party member, gave her a form to fill.
Since the woman did not have the ID card with her, she took the form and walked back home to get the ID card. On the way, she met Mr Kiatiburut and told him the story. He found it odd and thought it was an unfair campaign so he recorded the clip and posted it on Facebook.
Pikit Srichana, an earmakred PPRP MP candidate in the district, later filed a computer crime charge against Mr Kiatiburut.
Although this case appears to be a misunderstanding, the EC said it was looking into it.
On Saturday, Pheu Thai and other parties claimed a district chief in Khon Kaen province, together with a potential PPRP MP candidate, handed out welfare cards to people. The district chief allegedly told people if they wanted more cards, they should elect PPRP.
Last Wednesday, PPRP was heavily criticised over a leaked table map for its fundraising banquet which mobilised 650 million baht.
The map shows sections of tables marked with names which sound like state agencies such as “Finance”, “TAT” and “BMA”. It also showed an adviser to the industry and commerce ministers was responsible for 24 tables, costing 72 million baht.
Since four sitting ministers are PPRP’s leader and top executives who refused to resign, many people have expressed a concern either taxpayers’ money might have been used to finance the party or state officials involved might have solicited donations from the private sector. They claim neither bodes well for good governance or transparency.
The EC said it would wait until PPRP submits the details of the raised funds before starting an investigation.
PPRP denied using taxpayers’ money and the authenticity of the map. It said it was checking the qualifications of the donors and would return the portion found to be illegal.