EC clarifies Senate poll regulations
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EC clarifies Senate poll regulations

Media interviews on areas of expertise ok

Sawang: Campaign pledges banned
Sawang: Campaign pledges banned

Senate election candidates may give media interviews on matters related to their expertise, but they are barred from introducing themselves in the media or taking part in a broadcast debate, according to the Election Commission (EC).

The explanation was given at a meeting the EC held with members of the media on Tuesday to brief them about the parameters of the Senate election law.

The EC was responding to growing questions about what the media can do in its coverage of the upcoming Senate poll.

EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee said there is no exact word in any regulation that forbids the media from performing their jobs during the multi-tier Senate election involving intra-and inter-professional group votes at the district, provincial and national levels, which has been set for May 20-24.

He advised the media to be extra cautious when they interview the candidates and focus solely on letting them speak about their areas of expertise.

For example, an election candidate who is an engineering expert may offer their opinions about a collapsed building. However, they are not to elaborate on details about their candidacy or introduce themselves outright as a Senate candidate.

The same rule applies to candidates who are news anchors, however they may continue working as media practitioners during the course of the election, said Mr Sawang.

"New senators will be elected based on their background only.

"I mean they will be elected from what they've done in the past, not what they say they would do when elected [as opposed to what MP candidates are allowed to]," he said.

"The rules surrounding the Senate candidacy were not invented by the EC. They were put in place by someone else [legislators]," he said.

If the results of the Senate election are flawed, the law or the constitution, or both, will have to be amended, Mr Sawang said.

The real intention behind the restrictions is to ensure fairness for all candidates, he said.

The EC will publish on its electronic media channels the final list of candidates and their biographies so the public can scrutinise their eligibility, he said.

The channels include the EC's website and mobile app Smart Voice. Candidates can publish their biographies in their e-media spaces, he added.

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