Pheu Thai 'does not interfere in surveys'
The Bangkok Election Committee will decide tomorrow whether to investigate all pollsters over allegations that they had fabricated opinion surveys to influence decision of voters in the upcoming gubernatorial election.Thaweesak Tuchinda, the chairman of the Bangkok election panel, said his panel was gathering more information for making a decision tomorrow.
Thaweesak said his panel took up the issue for discussion yesterday after Sanhapoj Suksrimuang, an independent candidate file a complaint with his panel, alleging that certain pollsters had not properly conducted surveys in line with academic principles.
Thaweesak said if the committee finds that any pollster had improperly conducted a survey, it would be summoned for questioning.
If there is ground to suspect the practice, the pollster will face charges for violating Article 57 of the local election act and could face a maximum jail term of 10 years and a maximum fine of Bt200,000 plus a ten-year political ban.
Recent surveys showed that Pheu Thai candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen was leaving other candidates far behind in term of approval rating.
In another development, Pheu Thai Party leader and Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan yesterday denied his party had interfered in opinion surveys conducted by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University.
Charupong was reacting to a statement by Manit Suksomchit, who has quit as Suan Dusit Rajabhat University Council chairman following his belief the university had allegedly conducted opinion surveys to please the government.
Charupong said he knew nothing about alleged interference in the survey's organisation but, as the party leader and interior minister, he was ensuring that party members did not interfere in the surveys and would not violate the laws.
"I repeat that we have not interfered in the works of Suan Dusit Poll, and we treat everyone with respect," Charupong said.
He said Pheu Thai did not attach much importance to opinion survey results because the party was focusing on its policies, which it has been selling to Bangkok voters.
Charupong said the university was hired to organise the public hearings on charter amendments because it was considered as being neutral. He said he did not attempt to interfere in the hearing's organisation, but he simply wanted the university to select representatives from all walks of life for the hearings.
Manit yesterday reiterated that he resigned so he could answer questions as to why Suan Dusit Poll had designed questionnaires for several surveys in the way that it had.
Manit said he objected to the university's agreeing to be hired by the government to organise 108 hearings on charter amendment. He said he was among the 2007 charter drafters so he disagreed with the plan to amend it.
He confirmed yesterday that a survey by the university whose results were announced on December 20 had been the last straw for him. The survey asked respondents which politicians they would wish to survive if the world ended. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was picked by most of the respondents.
Meanwhile, Phumtham Vejchayachai, director of Pheu Thai's Bangkok election centre, said Pheu Thai had not interfered in the results of any opinion survey.
Dr Noppadol Kannikar, director of the Abac Poll of Assumption University, said allegations of biased surveys always came up before elections.