EC decides against prosecuting ‘Matichon’ over 2015 charter cartoon

national July 01, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

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THE ELECTION Commission (EC) has decided not to take action against a Matichon cartoonist and weekend editor over its recent publication of a cartoon about the charter draft, EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said yesterday.



Matichon weekend editor Suwapong Chanfangpet and cartoonist Arun Watcharasawat met with Somchai for an hour and explained that the cartoon that was published in the Matichon Weekender from September 4 to 10 last year referred to the former charter draft written by the now-defunct Constitution Drafting Committee led by Borwornsak Uwanno.
Somchai said Arun was not being held responsible but Matichon Weekender should not have republished the cartoon. Suwapong, however, defended himself by saying he did not intend to republish the cartoon. He said it was an honest error that led to the misunderstanding the cartoon referred to the current draft charter written by the Constitution Drafting Commission led by Meechai Ruchuphan.
“Since Suwapong has admitted to his mistake, we will not take legal action and the cartoon has been removed from the online version,’’ Somchai said.
In a related development, Somchai said the EC would not intensify prosecution of offenders after the Constitutional Court’s |ruling that Clause 2 of Article 61 of the Referendum Law was constitutional. 
He also rejected a call from Jon Ungphakon, director of the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw), who had asked the EC to review its ban on certain activities during the referendum.
Somchai said the EC believes its rules and regulations are appropriate and do not breach people’s rights or liberty.
“Only three groups of people will be affected by our rules – people who use false, vulgar or inciting statements,’’ he said.
“iLaw should accept the court ruling, otherwise it should remove the word law from its name,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) member General Somjet Boonthanom said the Constitutional Court had not summoned the NLA for clarification over Clause 2 of Article 61 because the law was already clear.
“The referendum law does not block anyone from expressing their opinion but they must not present statements that are distortions, false, vulgar or inciting,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship co-leader Nattawut Saikua said his group’s television programme “Meechai charter: Thailand steps ahead or a long step back”, the first episode of which is scheduled to be broadcast today at 6.30pm, would not be cancelled.
He said he was confident the content of the programme was legal despite the Constitutional Court ruling and Clause 2 remaining in force.
Nattawut added that the Election Commission’s television programmes on the charter draft are clearly biased. 
He said the first episode of his group’s programme would be titled “Look at Myanmar, England to get some ideas about referendum”, and presented by senior foreign affairs reporter Prawit Rojanaphruk, and guest speaker Pimsiri Petnamrob, an activist who specialises in Myanmar affairs.
Meanwhile, Suthep Thaugsuban, chairman of the Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand, is continuing his discussion about political reform in the charter draft via Facebook Live.

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