Former Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn believes his straight comments in public may have upset the powers-that-be, and were the reason he was removed from office.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as head of the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO], exercised his special powers specified by Article 44 embedded in the new charter to terminate Somchai as an Electoral Commission (EC) member, effective on Tuesday.
“I’m not shocked by the order. I have been aware for a long time that the powers-that-be might feel bad towards me. He [the junta chief] has the power to do so [remove him]. I have to admit it [the order],” Somchai told The Nation an hour after the order was announced in the Royal Gazette on Tuesday.
The order said that Somchai had carried out inappropriate behaviour by causing “public confusion” in his remarks with the media about the election process. Also, Somchai was in conflict of interest by applying to become EC secretary-general without resigning from his current post, it added.
Somchai recounted two of his remarks that could have upset those in power.
First, he answered a question asked by Prayut if it was lawful for the NCPO to support a political party, and Somchai said for a person it would be OK, but for the NCPO it was not appropriate.
Second, he opined that a petition to the Constitutional Court for a review of the MP election bill would definitely affect the road map to the election. This contradicted those in power who said it would not do so.
“I have no regrets. Working here [at the EC], we need to cling on to the right principles. The public will see whether the use of power by the powers-that-be is right or appropriate, or not,” he said.
Somchai said it would now be difficult for him to get the job of EC secretary-general.
This was because other four EC members, who will choose a candidate, may fear that they would dissatisfy the ruling powers if they voted for Somchai.
Somchai said he would not file a petition against the Article 44 order, but would find another job that suited his ability and experience.