Vote-buying 'rampant', says election watchdog

Vote-buying 'rampant', says election watchdog

A voter cast the ballot at a polling station in Wattana district on Sunday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
A voter cast the ballot at a polling station in Wattana district on Sunday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Vote-buying was rampant on the eve of Sunday's general election, according to the Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-Net), a non-governmental organisation focusing on strengthening democracy and electoral processes.

Ladawan Tantiwitthaypitak, a P-net executive, said several parties still resorted to "money politics" to bribe voters. She also said there were cases of vote buying in the final leg of the election campaign, though not in an overt manner.

She said people were mobilised to attend campaign rallies, each receiving 200 baht to turn up while a driver who took them to the rallies got 500 baht. The banknotes were held by rubber bands under meal boxes given to each rally participant, she said.

Ms Ladawan said its network of election watchdogs also took pictures of many piles of 100-baht banknotes believed to have been used for vote-buying.

The information has been sent to the Election Commission to take action against election law violators, she said.

However, overall, the elections proceeded smoothly as large numbers of people flocked to cast ballots at polling stations nationwide, Ms Ladawan said.

Meanwhile, members of the Myanmar media from Myawaddy visited Mae Sot district of Tak province to observe the elections in Constituency 3 in tambon Tha Sai Luad.

Myanmar reporters also met Thai media members and interviewed voters, many of whom said they were glad to exercise their voting rights and they hoped the economy would improve after the poll.

KoKo, head of a Myanmar media group, said Myanmar people were interested in the Thai elections and were happy to see democracy return to Thailand.

KoKo added that observing the Thai electoral process offered good lessons for Myanmar.

Foreign observers from the United States, Australia and Asean were also invited or had asked to access to watch the election. Some visited constituencies in the South before the polling stations opened on Sunday.

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