THE ELECTION Commission (EC) yesterday backtracked on its previous attempt to prohibit Future Forward Party (FWP) to raise funds, saying that the party could do so but had to ask for permission from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) first.
According to the EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma, fundraising remained a political activity banned by the NCPO.
“We don’t ban it. It’s just that they have to seek permission to do it,” he said. “The EC will also send letters to all political parties about the rule that [requires that] if they want to do any activities beyond what’s allowed in the latest relaxation, they still have to get the [NCPO’s] permission first.”
The explanation came in response to FWP’s protest on Wednesday that the party had been contacted by the EC to stop fundraising because doing so had violated the political ban.
The party slammed the EC as being the NCPO’s tool as it sought to hinder the anti-coup party. The party challenged the EC to also issue a formal statement about the order so it could sue the agency.
Jarungvith yesterday said the EC had only been following the law. As the registrar, he said he did not want political parties to breach the law [and wanted to ensure] that they all could contest the election.
However, the EC would not issue a formal order as FWP had demanded, he said. It would only send out letters to inform all parties.
The move to hinder FWP’s fundraising also raised the question of whether the pro-junta party Ruam Palang Prachachat Thai may also have breached the ban. Its patriarch, Suthep Thaugsuban, allegedly had called on supporters to donate Bt1 each day to the party.
Suthep yesterday responded to the criticism that it was not really a donation but a membership fee.
What he meant by giving the party Bt1 he said, was that party member should pay Bt365 for the annual membership fee rather than the minimum of Bt50 or Bt100 as required by the law.
Meanwhile, Future Forward said that after the EC’s treatment over the fundraising, and its leaders’ call for people to become permanent members and pay the fee to help the party financially, the party saw an increase in its permanent members to more than 200.
Since opening its application for membership last weekend, its members now numbered around 1,109, according to FWP.