Senator blasts PM chief's 'election ploy'
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Senator blasts PM chief's 'election ploy'

Senators attend a parliamentary session in August 2023. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Senators attend a parliamentary session in August 2023. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Senator Somchai Sawangkarn is calling on the Election Commission (EC) to take action against any attempts to manipulate the election of new senators.

He is upset by moves by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, chairman of the Progressive Movement (PM) and former leader of the now-defunct Future Forward Party (FFP), to urge his supporters to sign up for the Senate election as candidates.

Mr Somchai views this as a tactic to manipulate the new system to elect 200 senators between next month and June.

At a recent seminar held in Chiang Mai, Mr Thanathorn expressed his wish to see around 100,000 people each pay 2,500 baht for the application fee to stand as representatives from 20 professional groups to the new Upper House.

Otherwise, only those with close connections to the coalition government would be appointed and democracy would suffer, he claimed.

Progressive Movement (PM) chairman Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit urges people to apply for the Senate election. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Mr Thanathorn said is now available for would-be candidates who share the same ideology as the party, to use as an online platform to introduce themselves, and get to know each other ahead of the election.

Despite how well-qualified an independent candidate may be, they will not be able to beat their rivals in these professional groups without this campaign, he added.

Throughout its five-year tenure, the Senate can select seven of nine Constitutional Court judges, five of seven EC members, and five of nine commissioners of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), Mr Thanathorn told an earlier seminar in Chiang Mai.

In response, Mr Somchai said that if the EC fails to take any action against this attempt to manipulate the election, it will be held accountable for dereliction of duty.

Mr Thanathorn stepped up his campaign on Thursday in the southern province of Surat Thani province, with about 100 people attending his forum.

He pitched the same message, urging as many people as possible to apply for the Senate election.

He plans to conduct another seminar on Friday in the neighbouring province Nakhon Si Thammarat.

A retired Interior Ministry official who identified himself only by his first name, Alongkorn, said he had previously been left in the dark about the complicated system for electing new senators -- until Mr Thanathorn visited Surat Thani.

During Songkran, some activists have been urging people to convince family and friends in their home provinces to seek seats in the Senate, to make it harder for influential figures to parade into parliament.

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