Wissanu rejects poll-break plea

Wissanu rejects poll-break plea

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 said 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 Oct 23 is Chulalongkorn Memorial Day, a public holiday when many employees report for work to get overtime pay. It is worried that a low voter turnout in the Nakhon Pathom constituency 5 by-election will result.

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 yesterday 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 decided 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.

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