Non-Thais skew EC map: Wissanu
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Non-Thais skew EC map: Wissanu

Rethink urged over non-voters' inclusion

An official calls out votes cast at a polling station in Laksi district, Bangkok. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
An official calls out votes cast at a polling station in Laksi district, Bangkok. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Monday suggested that the Election Commission (EC) ask the Constitutional Court for a ruling after its calculation of the number of people represented per MP was found to include non-Thai nationals.

According to Mr Wissanu, the EC claimed non-Thai nationals are included because the charter stipulates population data must come from the Interior Ministry, which covers both Thais and foreign nationals.

"As a matter of fact, Thais and non-Thais can be separated, so I suggest that the EC should have the matter straightened out by the Constitutional Court. The number of non-Thais may affect [the number of MPs] in some constituencies.

"But they can't vote, so why are they counted?" he said.

According to the EC, there will be one MP per 165,226 members of the public in the upcoming general election, based on a total population of 66,090,475, as of Dec 31 last year.

Former EC member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn warned on Monday the number of MPs in some provinces could be distorted if there were a large number of non-Thais, and insisted the EC must clear this up before the electoral map is finalised.

Mr Somchai said even if the charter does not say "Thai population", it is wrong to include other nationals in calculating the number of people represented per MP.

According to Mr Somchai, 983,994 people included in the EC tally are non-Thai citizens.

"The court can be asked to rule if the population under Section 86 covers only Thai nationals. But this may further delay demarcation of the electoral boundaries," he said.

The three provinces with the most non-Thais are Chiang Mai (161,567), Tak (137,410) and Chiang Rai (132,515). If non-Thais are excluded, these provinces will lose an MP, while Udon Thani, Lop Buri and Pattani would gain one apiece.

On Feb 1, EC member Pakorn Mahannop said the same methodology had been adopted in the previous general election, and prior to 2016, the Interior Ministry's population data provided the total number and their sexes only.

The poll commission also cited the Council of State's ruling on the upgrade of Mae Sot into a thesaban (municipality), which requires at least 50,000 inhabitants.

The Council of State ruled that all residents must be counted if their status is legal because they are eligible to receive public services and pay certain taxes even though they are not eligible for certain benefits as Thais.

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