Serial petitioner Srisuwan Janya was punched in the mouth on Thursday after giving a statement to the Election Commission to support his complaint against the Pheu Thai Party’s 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme.
The sudden attack occurred at 11.15am when a man wearing a suit walked towards Mr Srisuwan, who was speaking to reporters at the EC office, and suddenly punched him in the mouth.
The attacker shouted: “You’re filing too many complaints. Nonsense! Why did you file complaints against the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties? Why are you filing a complaint against Pita (Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat)? The general election is approaching”.
Before leaving, he said, “I’ve tolerated your conduct for so long.”
The attacker was later identified as Thotsaphon Thananonsophonkul, 67, a retired university lecturer.
The incident caught Mr Srisuwan off guard. The activist, who has lodged hundreds of petitions with state agencies and courts over the years, removed his face mask to show a bleeding lower lip to reporters.
Mr Srisuwan, 55, later filed an assault complaint against Mr Thotsaphon with Thung Song Hong police.
It was not the first time the activist has been physically attacked by someone accusing him of showing a bias against critics of the government, something he has denied.
His supporters point out that in 2019 he questioned whether Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was eligible to stand as a prime ministerial candidate as the Constitution prohibits “state officials” from doing so. The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the complaint.
When the Prayut-led National Council for Peace and Order was in power after the 2014 coup, Mr Srisuwan filed numerous complaints against its members and associates. In return, he was regularly summoned by the junta for “attitude adjustment”.
In October last year, Mr Srisuwan wass assaulted, but not seriously hurt when he arrived to register a complaint against comedian Udom “Nose” Taepanich with police at the Central Investigation Bureau.
A group led by red-shirt leader Weerawit Rungruangsiripol was waiting for him when he arrived to ask police to take action against the popular comic. Mr Srisuwan did not think Nose’s jokes about Gen Prayut were funny.
Mr Weerawit punched, grabbed and kicked at the activist before police and onlookers intervened.
Mr Srisuwan had gone to the EC head office on Thursday to give details to support his complaint about Pheu Thai’s policy of a 10,000-baht digital handout to everyone aged 16 and over.
He said such a pledge could violate Section 73 of the election law, which prohibits candidates or other figures from promising to give voters assets, money or benefits. It also prohibits them from providing misleading information about policies.
Pheu Thai, which is widely expected to win the most seats in Sunday’s election, has pledged that every Thai aged over 16 will receive a new bank savings account and a digital wallet connected to his or her ID.
Srettha Thavisin, a business executive and Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate, has said the scheme would cost 560 billion baht, all of which could be accounted for financially. He said it would help unleash an “economic tsunami” that would include 160 billion baht in additional tax revenue.