Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn
Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn

Ban on political meetings should be loosened, EC’s Somchai says

politics June 20, 2017 01:00


AN ELECTION commissioner yesterday suggested the ruling junta should loosen its ban on political assembly to allow parties to work and fulfil requirements under the new law on political parties.

Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said the relaxation should happen immediately after the law is enacted.

He made the suggestion after news that the proposed new law would not repeal Order 57/2557, by the National Council for Peace and Order, which has banned political meetings of more than five people since the 2014 coup.

Due to the ban, political parties have been unable to call official meetings, including one to discuss preparations for implementation of the organic law on political parties.

Representatives from the EC and the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) are to meet tomorrow to discuss the law on political parties, which is seen as likely to cause difficulties.

Somchai said revisions to alleviate complications in practice did not seem feasible. He said after the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) passed the law last week, revisions could only be made to ensure the law complies with the Constitution. It was unsure if the organic law would be revised and when it will be promulgated. 

EC deputy secretary general Phumpitak Kongkaew will represent the agency in the talks tomorrow. Somchai said he had stressed with Phumpitak that the talks should focus on points that contravene the charter and not difficulties the EC or political parties will face because of the law.

“Discussing how things are difficult for the EC and the parties would be off the topic. It should be focused on what the intention of the Constitution is,” he said. 

“For example, when the intent is to strengthen the parties, then if something will be more difficult, so be it.”

Somchai said it was too late to talk about measures that cause trouble for the agent involved, as that should have been done when the law was created.

Asked if the difficulties could cause the election to be delayed and thus considered as contravening the charter, Somchai said it was tricky. But if a person wanted to argue, he or she had to be able to explain how an issue contradicted the Constitution, he said.

There were other complications in the law such as recruitment of members in constituencies, as it intertwined with the organic law on the election of MPs, which has not been written yet.

Meanwhile, the EC will submit a petition on Friday against at least three points in the organic law governing the election agency. 

Somchai said the NLA could arrange the setting up of a joint panel at the end of this month and the revision was expected to be completed by July 15. The EC will meet on Tuesday to prepare evidence and documents proving that some clauses in the law passed by the NLA two weeks ago contravene the Constitution.

The points were the responsibility and authority of the EC, the election organisation in local administration, and the dismissal of the EC members.

Somchai said there were three ways the agency would appeal to resist the so-called reset. One calls for protection of all five current members, citing the rule of law, which encourages that laws must be fair to all people.

The second was the intent of the CDC on current members who meet the new qualifications set by the new charter, if they can continue their term. Somchai said this could save at least three members from being dismissed.

The third was the tradition in legislation. Somchai said the agency would argue laws should follow some norms and traditional processes, but the NLA may have not done this.