National Legislative Assembly (NLA) President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai on Monday said he believed voting to decide the new Election Commission (EC) president would not stir up conflict in the agency, after former commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn had warned on Sunday about the likelihood of outside lobbying.
Five new election commissioners were endorsed by the NLA last Thursday, and are currently in the process of voting on which of them will be president, before seeking royal endorsement.
Somchai, a former commissioner sacked via absolute power granted under Article 44 of the interim charter, on Sunday took to Facebook and offered advice to his successors.
As the selection of the EC president is expected to be completed within this month, Somchai forewarned that the NLA-endorsed members would be approached by different people, be it from the government or political parties.
He urged the successful candidates to use their discretion and put national interest above everything else.
In response, Pornpetch said on Monday that it was an EC matter and he did not know if anyone would undertake such lobbying.
He also said that while it was common that news would circulate about who would become the next EC chief, he did not think conflict would arise among the newly endorsed EC members about voting on who should the leader.
As a member of the committee that had scrutinised all of the EC candidates, Pornpetch said that their ability to work together as a team had been examined.
Those candidates with a strong ego had received lower scores, he added.
The latest development came amid critics’ concern that the replacement of the EC with all-new members ahead of the general election had been a strategically ploy to ensure the victory of junta-backed parties at next year’s national poll.
The new organic law governing the EC controversially dismissed the serving commissioners and prescribed that the new agency be comprised of seven members.
Two candidates last Thursday, however, failed to win a simple majority to become part of the new EC.
Pornpetch said that another round of selection for these two seats on the electoral agency would kick off once the prime minister had sought royal endorsement for the five successful candidates.
The NLA panel expects the selection of another two candidates to be completed in August, he added.
Given the fact that applications for the posts have been opened for two rounds already and that the qualifications required were relatively high, some have expressed concern that it would be difficult to fill the remaining vacancies.
Pornpetch said the selection committee had not ruled out the possibility that they might proactively approach some potential candidates, rather than relying on the normal application procedure.