New senators get ready to work as probes continue
text size

New senators get ready to work as probes continue

Election Commission certifies results, asks police and others to help investigate alleged collusion

Election Commission secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee arrives at the Senate election venue in Impact Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi for the final round of voting on June 26. He announced the official certification of the results on Wednesday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Election Commission secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee arrives at the Senate election venue in Impact Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi for the final round of voting on June 26. He announced the official certification of the results on Wednesday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Thailand’s 200 new senators have been asked to report to Parliament on Monday, even as the Election Commission continues to investigate numerous allegations of collusion and other misdeeds in the polling process.

The new senators can pick up their certificates on Thursday and Friday, the poll body said on Wednesday after finally certifying the results of the three-stage vote that concluded on June 26.

Caretaker senator Somchai Swangkarn said that the 250 senators appointed in 2019 by the military-linked government were supposed to stop performing their duty now that the results were official.

The Secretariat of the Senate said the inaugural session of the new upper house would be scheduled shortly after its members report on Monday.

The EC, meanwhile, said it would collaborate with three agencies to continue investigating alleged collusion to fix the election.

Two weeks after the last votes were cast, the poll body met on Wednesday morning amid speculation that it was finally ready to confirm the unofficial results. That confirmation came at 2.30pm, when it released a list of names of the 200 senators and 100 substitutes.
 
Senator-elect Kohdeeyoh Songngam, in Group 18 (mass communications and literature), was the only person disqualified so far. She was found to have worked as an adviser to the chairman of the Ang Thong provincial administrative organisation. The job is a political post, which made her ineligible.

The first substitute in Group 18, Maj Korapot Runghirunwat, was named to fill the vacant seat.

At a later news conference, EC secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee said the commission agreed the vote was in line with Section 42 of the organic law and decided to certify the result.

Fending off criticism about the poll body’s handling of the contest, he said it had reviewed complaints and divided them into three categories: manipulation or fraud, offences related to the election process on voting days, and candidates’ qualifications.

There are 47 complaints about collusion to fix the result, according to Mr Sawaeng. The EC has gathered initial evidence and has sought help from the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the Anti-Money Laundering Office in looking into these allegations, he said.

“We’ve been working with high-ranking officers from these agencies for a week. The Office of the EC needs to use their tools to gather evidence,” he said.

Eighteen complaint about the election process on voting days were submitted to the Supreme Court which dismissed all of them, said Mr Sawaeng. Three were filed with the EC which decided to gather more evidence to ensure a fair process for the complainants and the accused, he added.

Candidates’ eligibility and qualifications were screened by the poll agency before and during the contest, he said. The applications of 1,917 people were rejected before voting started while more than 600 were disqualified because they did meet the qualification requirements.

Mr Sawaeng said the EC would ask the Supreme Court to revoke the rights of some candidates, who could face criminal charges for contesting the election despite knowing they were not eligible.  

He also clarified that the terms “profession” or “occupation” were incorrectly used when referring to the 20 groups in which candidates competed.

The organic law on the Senate election and the constitution use a broader Thai term, dan — domain, area or field — to ensure people from diverse backgrounds and experiences can participate in the election, he explained.

“[After all these steps], the EC agreed the Senate election process was fair, clean and lawful and decided to endorse the election result,” he said.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (11)