EC slammed after members 'take B12m' of overseas trips
The Election Commission (EC) has come under fire after several commissioners took overseas trips costing a total of 12 million baht, although the election will be held in just two weeks.
However, the EC Office defended the trips, saying that the members travelled abroad in order to inspect advance voting locations and ensure poll transparency, which was part of their responsibilities under the new charter. EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma also cited Section 224(3) of the constitution as further justification for the trips.
Local media have reported that seven commissioners took trips abroad, forcing the EC to postpone meetings this week, even though key issues were on the agenda. The commissioners travelled to countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and Singapore.
He added that EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong made a one-day trip to Singapore to inspect the opening of a polling unit. Regarding the alleged 12-million-baht expenditure, Mr Jarungvith said the money was allocated to the Department of Consular Affairs for management costs.
He said the poll commissioners would also monitor advance voting on March 17.
Jarungvith: 'Part of duties'
Mr Jarungvith dismissed the allegations that EC members had to cancel or postpone meetings during the trips as untrue, saying they could conduct telephone conferences if necessary.
He said that while the EC is required to answer election-related questions within 30 days, it can assign any member or the EC secretary-general to clarify the issues on the EC's behalf.
Puea Chat campaigner and red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan urged the EC to make sure their members are committed to their jobs in order to avoid ending up like a former poll commissioner who was found guilty of negligence of duty.
He was referring to Wassana Permlap who was found guilty of dereliction of duty for failing to expedite a probe into a petition against the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party.