January 12, 2014 00:00 By Hataikarn Treesuwan The Sunda
THE YINGLUCK CABINET will next week discuss a proposal by the election agency for rescheduling of the February 2 poll date, according to a source from the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said yesterday that the agency would likely suggest to the government that the election be postponed to May 4, which is within the 180-day deadline set by the Constitution for a new election to be held after dissolution of the House of Representatives. He said the EC would invite all the political parties including the Democrat Party, which opted not to contest the February 2 election, to discuss the matter for an agreement.
The Election Commission (EC) on Friday suggested that the government start a new election process through a Royal Decree because of many problems in the run-up to the polls.
The source, who asked not to be named, told The Nation yesterday that after the government received an official letter from the EC, the Cabinet would invite EC representatives to explain their suggestion at the meeting and put it as a meeting record.
However, the Cabinet does not need to follow the EC’s suggestion but will instead follow the opinion of the Council of State, which acts as the government’s legal counsellor, the source said.
The source said election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn on Thursday phoned some key Pheu Thai Party men, including PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva, to discuss the concerns of the Office of the Auditor-General. The Office suggested to the EC that it review the election plan as it could end up being a waste of Bt3.8 billion state funds.
The source, who was among those who had talked to the EC, said the EC feared that the commissioners might take legal action if they did not follow the advice of the Office. The key men, who talked to the EC, had told the poll agency to submit an official letter with the reasons for the suggestion and send it to the government.
In the conversation between Somchai and Pheu Thai’s key men, the latter refused to reschedule the poll date as the Royal Decree to call the snap election has not been revoked.
The source said if the caretaker government follows the EC’s proposal, Yingluck could risk violating the law, as she is responsible for both the existing Royal Decree and the new one rescheduling the poll date if it is submitted to His Majesty the King.
"We don’t have the authority to manage the election. All the powers [to manage the election] belong to you [the EC]. We are merely players waiting to play by the rules you [the EC] designate. You may fear there is a chance of being jailed, so do we," said the source – relaying the conversation he had with the EC.