Senate election starts smoothly
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Senate election starts smoothly

Election officials show a ballot at a Senate election station set up at Banbangkapi School in Bangkok's Bang Kapi district on Sunday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Election officials show a ballot at a Senate election station set up at Banbangkapi School in Bangkok's Bang Kapi district on Sunday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The district-level vote in the Senate election on Sunday ran smoothly and wrapped up with several well-known political figures winning this first round of the race for Upper House seats, including former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat and former election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn.

The provincial-level voting is due to be next carried out next Sunday (June 16), while candidates who make it through the district and provincial stages will then stand in the final, national-level vote planned for June 26. Final results for the election of 200 new senators are expected to be announced by the Election Commission (EC) sometime in July.

Overall, Sunday’s vote went smoothly with only about 22 complaints received by the EC about alleged irregularities which will be next investigated formally, said EC chairman Itthiporn Boonpracong.

If backed with sufficient information, the EC’s probes into these complaints should be finished within 20 days’ time, he said, adding more complaints could still be filed with the EC in three days from Sunday.

As for those election candidates who would like to review Sunday’s voting process from footage from security cameras installed at all voting venues, they could do so by first submitting a request with the EC.

A handful of complaints alleging election fraud were filed with police on Sunday concerning the vote in Nakhon Si Thammarat, but none in Bangkok, said Pol Lt Gen Kornchai Klayklueng, assistant national police chief.

In Bangkok alone, around 17,000 police officers were deployed at voting venues in the city to ensure security and facilitate the EC’s handling of Sunday’s district-level vote, he said.

Results of Sunday’s vote will be posted on Monday (June 10) at the voting venues and will later appear on the EC’s website and Smart Vote application, said EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee.

Responding to an observation that many candidates may have lost Sunday’s vote due to manipulation by groups of candidates who entered the race as part of a ploy to make certain candidates win, Mr Sawang said that was simply speculation that would never lead to any punishment for anyone if not proved to be true and against the Senate election law.

In Chiang Mai, Mr Somchai, the former prime minster, emerged as a winner in Sunday’s district-level voting in Mae Rim district, according to an informed source.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, where 444 candidates in all 20 professional groups contested the district-level vote, some election candidates linked to the ruling Pheu Thai Party also won Sunday’s vote among other well-known local figures, said a source.

Samphat Atthawong, a former Pheu Thai MP for Nakhon Ratchasima and elder brother of Seksakol “Rambo Isan” Atthawong, who is now with the United Thai Nation Party, and Somphot Prasatthai, a former Pheu Thai election candidate and key figure of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), a political ally of Pheu Thai, were named among other successful candidates at Sunday’s voting, said the source.

Other successful candidates included Natthinikon Chantharanothai, wife of Wichian Chantharanothai, a former Nakhon Ratchasima governor; Witthun Chatpatimaphong, a former president of Nakhon Ratchasima’s provincial administration organisation; and Kanok Tosurat, a former member of the 2007 constitution drafting assembly, according to the same source.

However, n Buri Ram – long perceived as Bhumjaithai Party’s political stronghold – Usanee Chidchob, an elder sister of Newin Chidchob, the de facto leader of Bhumjaithai, lost Sunday’s vote.

Buri Ram recorded the country’s fourth highest number of Senate election candidates, 1,836, contesting the district-level vote in all 20 professional groups. Of this number, 112 candidates had been disqualified prior to Sunday’s vote.

In Phra Nakhon district of Bangkok, Lae Dilokwitharat, an emeritus professor with Chulalongkorn University; Assoc Prof Nantana Nantavaropas, dean of Political Communication College at Krirk University; Anusorn Tipayanon, a well-known writer and translator; and Assoc Prof Pichit Likitkijsomboon, a former Economics lecturer with Thammasat University, were among the well-known figures who contested Sunday’s vote, said a different source.

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