EC announces referendum do's and don'ts

EC announces referendum do's and don'ts

Be careful about what you “Like” once new Election Commission rules for the Aug 7 constitutional referendum take effect.

The EC on Friday announced a list of do’s and don’ts that will take effect when they are published in the Royal Gazette, possibly next week, said deputy secretary-general Thanit Sriprathet 

“In any case, the referendum law is already in place and offenders could be punished even though the announcement has not been in effect,” he said.

Anyone may report an act to police, not the EC, he added. 

"If a user finds text, a picture or a clip [posted online] legitimate, he may post or share it," he explained. "But if he posts it and adds his opinions which are illegitimate, he will be liable. Likewise, a user who clicks 'Like' on offending text will be culpable."

The military government has stepped up arrests and detention of its critics in its continuing effort to keep a lid on public debate before the Aug 7 vote. The actions coincide with the approval this week by the National Legislative Assembly of amendments to the 2007 Computer Crime Act. Some offences related to activities that "undermine national security" are open to broad interpretation.

For now, however, the EC says it is trying its best to inform the public about what is and is not considered fair comment where the draft charter is concerned. Its list is as follows:

Do's

A person can express opinions about the draft constitution so long as they are not inconsistent with facts, aggressive, violent, rude, inciting or threatening and do not violate other laws.  

1. Study and research more about the draft and the additional question from websites, print and electronic media to be used in expressing opinions

2. Use polite words in expressing opinions.

3. Express opinions clearly with no ambiguity that may cause others to view them as distorted.

4. When presenting or referring to academic research to back opinions, a voter should verify the sources and give them credit.

5. Express opinions in interviews backed by reasons.

6. Post or share information about an opinion supported by reasons in websites and electronic media without additional opinions.

Don'ts

A person can't do anything that may cause voters not to cast a vote, vote in a certain way or abstain; or to cause others to misunderstand the date and time of the referendum or voting method through the following means:

1. Give false information in interviews or in an aggressive, violent, rude, inciting or threatening manner.

2. Post or share false information or in an aggressive, violent, rude, inciting or threatening manner in websites or electronic media.

3. Prepare or send symbols or signs that are aggressive, violent, rude, inciting or threatening.

4. Organise seminars or debates without the participation of a government agency, educational institution and legitimate media organisation and with the intention to incite the public politicially.

5. Persuade others to wear shirts, pins, flags, ribbons or any sign that represents a certain opinion, or sell such items in a campaigning manner that leads to political incitement.

6. Distribute pamphlets or flysheets with false information or in an aggressive, violent, rude, inciting or threatening manner to create unrest or call for politicial assembly.

7. Report news or broadcast media programmes in a way that leads to incitement and creates social unrest.

8. Campaign to persuade people to vote in a certain way, in a manner that incites unrest or obstruct the referendum.

Media

The media can report responsibly and impartially within the scope of their ethics by taking into consideration equality or compliance with laws.


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