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Thai Senatorial Candidate Complains About Vote-Buying

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BANGKOK – A senator candidate for the small farmers’ group has protested against the elections at the national level, claiming efforts were made to buy votes.

Boonyuen Khaopakchong, a candidate of the small farmers’ group from Chumphon province, spoke out while votes for the group were being counted on Thursday.

Mr Boonyuen claimed he had received a call offering him 20,000 baht but he refused and told the caller he wouldn’t sell his vote even for a million baht.

Kesak Sudsawad, a candidate of the same group from Yasothon province, said he also suspected a foul play. “The farmers [candidates] who just met won unexpected high votes of 48 or 20 even though they know one another for just 1-2 days.”

He also admitted receiving calls asking for an exchange of votes but he would not press the issue. “If the election system is like this, our country will be weak. It’s shame so much money has been spent on the elections,” he said, referring to the 1.3-billion-baht budget for the senators’ elections.

EC president Ittiporn Boonpracong acknowledged the complaints made by the small farmers’ group and said their points were taken and would be considered later.

Despite the accusations Ittiporn Boonpracong, president of the Election Commission, declared the process a success.

There were 2,746 applicants who had passed initial voting at the district and provincial levels – 2,294 of them independent applicants and 452 nominated by authorized organisations, EC president Ittiporn Boonpracong said.

However, 2,675 of the applicants reported for the final vote yesterday, while the remaining 71 failed to make it, Ittiporn added. The applicants come from 10 occupational groups.

Representatives of the US Embassy were also present at the venue to observe the vote, which the EC chief said had been carried out in a transparent manner and the applicants can testify to it.

Ittiporn added that the agency welcomed complaints from any applicants regarding possible fraud or unfair practices.

According to him, the agency will consider whether it will make public the shortlist of 200 candidates.

“It is not required by law. The law only requires the EC to submit the list to the NCPO,” he said.

Source: Bangkok Post, The Nation