The main opposition Pheu Thai Party has urged the Election Commission (EC) to revise electioneering regulations during the 180-day period prior to the end of the House of Representatives' term to allow MPs to hand out relief items to flood victims.
Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said on Tuesday the EC issued the regulations even though a royal decree setting the poll date had yet to be declared and no poll candidates were named yet.
In the event of natural disasters, the EC can issue regulations to prevent politicians and political parties from taking advantage of each other, but the electioneering rules in question deprive people affected by flooding of the assistance they urgently need, he said.
"The EC should give priority to helping people and issue regulations that support efforts to help flood victims in disaster areas,'' Dr Cholnan said, adding that the EC should also issue clear regulations governing expenses incurred from helping victims.
He added that Pheu Thai will propose amendments to provisions regarding the calculation of MPs' spending under the law on the election of MPs when parliament reconvenes next month.
Pheu Thai MP for Bangkok, Theerarat Samretwanit, said the EC should revise the regulations to enable MPs to help flood-affected people in Bangkok.
The government should also ensure adequate funding for water management, flood prevention and relief operations nationwide, she said.
Previously, the EC had warned election candidates and political parties not to engage in activities outside of their political remit that might sway people into voting for them until parliament's tenure ends in March next year as this could be construed as vote-buying.
According to the EC, Section 73 of the law on the election of MPs prohibits candidates from offering assets or other benefits to persuade constituents to vote in their favour.
EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee later explained the new rules in detail.
He said parties and election candidates are free to attend social and traditional events such as weddings, funeral rites or ordination rites and can offer flowers or wreaths, but not money or other assets, with the exception of the host who can provide their own money for parties and candidates to give to monks, Mr Sawang said.
The new rules stipulate a 180-day pre-election period during which these regulations apply. Starting on Sept 24, the period lasts until the House of Representatives' four-year term expires on March 23. The election date has been tentatively set by the EC for May 7.