Wissanu rejects plea for workers' poll-break

Wissanu rejects plea for workers' poll-break

Workers arrange the Sam Phran district office in Nakhon Pathom as a venue for candidacy applications for the Nakhon Pathom Constituency 5 by-election to be held on Oct 23. Applications will be accepted to Friday. (photo by Pornprom Sattrabhaya)
Workers arrange the Sam Phran district office in Nakhon Pathom as a venue for candidacy applications for the Nakhon Pathom Constituency 5 by-election to be held on Oct 23. Applications will be accepted to Friday. (photo by Pornprom Sattrabhaya)

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has rejected calls from the Future Forward Party (FFP) for an administrative order requiring companies to allow their employees to vote in a by-election in Nakhon Pathom on Oct 23, which is a public holiday.

Mr Wissanu explained that the existing election law already imposes legal punishment on employers who prevent their employees from voting. 

The requirement applies regardless of what day the polls are held. 

The FFP said that since Oct 23 was Chulalongkorn Memorial Day, which is a public holiday when many employees report to work to get overtime pay, it feared a low voter turnout in the Nakhon Pathom constituency 5 by-election.

The party urged the EC to issue an order making it compulsory for companies to give employees a few hours off with full pay so they can go to the polls. 

General elections are typically held on Sundays when most voters are not at work. However, a by-election can be organised on any day of the week, Mr Wissanu said.

The deputy prime minister added that by-elections cater to particular constituencies with a limited number of voters and so their dates can be fixed on any day. 

More importantly, the EC was duty-bound to arrange a date for the by-election within 45 days of the MP post becoming vacant. 

FFP list MP Amornrat Chokepamitkul said on Thursday if workers cannot vote in the by-election, they stand to lose certain rights — including joining a mass petition to seek the removal of public office holders and contesting a poll. 

"If they lost such rights as a result of having been prevented from voting, who should be held to account?" she said. 

Meanwhile, the EC yesterday resolved to ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether Nawat Tohcharoensuk can remain a Pheu Thai Party MP for Khon Kaen after he was sentenced to death for hiring gunmen to kill a local administrative official.

Nawat was jailed after being refused bail pending an appeal. His imprisonment raises a legal question of whether he has lost his MP status.


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