THERE IS not a clause written into the new organic bill governing MPs for extending the road map to an election, although the idea has been floated to help political parties hamstrung by the ban on political activities.
There have been suggestions that the vetting committee tweak the bill so as to make the MP bill effective three months after it is published in the Royal Gazette.
Taweesak Sukawatin, spokesman of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)’s law vetting committee, said the legislators had not revised or discussed the issue in the bill.
The committee had already completed revisions to the MP bill and expected to submit the report to the NLA within two weeks, he said.
Taweesak said the committee had only made a few changes to important clauses.
First, it had reversed the stipulation on the refund of application fees to candidates who won more than 5 per cent of votes. He said the state had to spend tens of billions of baht to hold an election. Also, such a stipulation would increase unnecessary work for the Election Commission, he added.
Another issue amended in the bill regarded opinion polls during the run-up to the general election. Taweesak said the vetting committee had not been strict and still allowed such polls.
However, the polls must be conducted only by bona fide organisations with a clear methodology and no ill intentions to sway the voters, he said. Such surveys must end at 6pm before election day, he added.
He said exit polls were allowed but the results should not be revealed until the ballot boxes were closed.
Apart from that, the vetting committee had also discussed electronic channels as a new means of election campaigning. The committee would leave the matter for the EC to decide, he said.
The committee, however, recommended that the EC have candidates who use such means register themselves and provide information about the online accounts they would use, and that any online campaigning should be stopped three days prior to voting day, Taweesak said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai yesterday ordered an investigation into a Facebook post by the Thai Embassy in Finland giving advice about preparing for a general election tentatively to be held in November.
Don said he had not ordered the embassy to make the post. “I’m not sure whether the post is merely the embassy’s mistake or somebody hacked into the embassy’s Facebook account. I have ordered an inquiry into the incident,” Don said.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has not yet announced the official date of the general election, but he has implied that it should be held in November.
On its Facebook page, the embassy invited Thais in Finland and Estonia who wished to vote in the election to prepare necessary documents. The statement, titled “Preparation of the overseas election in 2018”, said the government was preparing for a general election in November this year.
Eligible voters were informed to prepare personal documents such as identity cards and valid passports.
“If the information in those documents had changed, the holders are urged to notify the embassy to update them,” read the statement, which has now been taken down from the Facebook page.