EC urged to probe micro-parties' cash
The opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party on Monday petitioned the Election Commission (EC) to investigate seven parties for alleged violations of the election law, following claims that the micro-parties' MPs received cash kickbacks in exchange for their support for the government.
The claims grabbed public attention after transfer receipts which showed some MPs receiving "allowances" of up to 100,000 baht a month went viral on social media last week.
Seri Ruam Thai's leader, Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, said parties who benefited from such payments violated sections 28 and 29 of the Political Party Act, which could result in their dissolution. Section 28 prohibits a political party from letting an outsider control, influence or guide its activities, in a way that affects the independence of the party and its members. Section 29 bars a non-party member from dominating, influencing or directing party affairs, both directly and indirectly, to limit party members' freedom.
Pol Gen Sereepisuth said that comments made by leaders of these government coalition parties suggested they accepted payments. Combined with the now-viral transfer slips, there are enough grounds for the EC to launch an investigation, he said. He added that the other party involved in the secret payments, believed to be the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), should also be investigated.
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a member of the Seri Ruam Thai Party and an ex-EC member, said there was enough evidence to support the allegations and the EC must act swiftly. He said if the EC finds evidence that the parties broke the law, it will forward the case to the Constitutional Court, which would rule on the matter as early as 15 days after the case is accepted. Mr Somchai said he hoped the EC will handle the matter in a transparent manner while calling the case a chance for the poll agency to restore its credibility and dignity.
The allegations were made by Setthakij Thai Party leader, Thamanat Prompow, ahead of last month's censure debate, after he learned that small parties would vote for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the cabinet ministers. While Capt Thamanat was PPRP secretary-general, he was tasked with coordinating with the smaller parties.
After he was expelled from the party, he joined Setthakij Thai, which promptly withdrew its support from the coalition ahead of the censure vote.