‘Impossible goals’ set for parties to organise
POLITICIANS COMPLAIN CONFIRMATION OF ALL MEMBERS NOT FEASIBLE IN A SINGLE MONTH
A JUNTA order setting the schedule for political parties in preparation for the upcoming election could be a problem rather than a solution, as political parties yesterday voiced concerns over difficulties and confusion related to their activities.
Parties stated in unison that the order should be amended or nullified to allow the completion of necessary activities before the poll.
While the Election Commission (EC) yesterday organised a seminar briefing parties about the changes involved in the order and new laws, the agency was unable to fully clarify the junta directive.
“The EC will try to help sort out the issues that drew complaints. But if it is about the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO], we can only pass issues on to the authorities to help find answers,” said EC president Supachai Somcharoen yesterday.
Government officials had talked with him about amending the order and loosening the restrictions, he said, but added that at present the order remained unchanged.
Junta order 53/2560 was issued in December to reschedule the timetable laid out by the organic law governing political parties, while maintaining the prevailing ban on political activities.
The law requires parties to make arrangements, such as updating membership rosters and collecting membership fees, within a deadline initiated at the law’s promulgation in October. But politicians have been unable to fulfil the requirements because of the junta ban on most political activities.
According to the order, existing political parties can start administrative work this Sunday, but confusion remains about the membership status and collection of fees, which they have to do within 30 days. Unless members confirm their membership with the party during that period, they could lose their status.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat Party leader, said yesterday he wanted clarification if members would lose their memberships if they failed to pay party fees within 30 days.
The junta order needed amendment, he said, as some points were impossible to achieve in practice. Among them was the order to set up regional branches, while parties were not allowed to convene or make any agreements, he said.
Phumtham Wechayachai, acting secretary-general of Pheu Thai Party, said yesterday the NCPO should revoke the political ban, otherwise parties would not be able to act.
“Facilitate the people as much as possible. Rescind the order and allow parties to perform their activities. This is the key solution to every problem,” the politician said.
Phumtham also said the confirmation of membership roles by the end of April would be problematic because more than 10 days would be lost to the Songkran public holiday, while there were other unclear rules and regulations.
“This is like all parties are being reset. If members don’t confirm their memberships, they are no longer members,” Phumtham said. “We are sure to lose a number of members. Such as the Demo-crats, they have millions of members. How can they call all of them in 30 days?”
Phumtham Wechayachai (center)
Warawut Silpa-archa, leader of Chart Thai Patana, also complained about the limited time and the public holiday, adding he expected to lose members.
“Not only do they [members] have to send documents to confirm their status, but they also have to pay a fee,” he said. “If there are any errors in the process, the punishment could be as harsh as dissolving the party. We think a smaller number is acceptable. We want to make sure the documents and everything else are correct.”
Meanwhile, the names of 25 to 30 members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) were also collected yesterday as part of a proposed petition for the Constitutional Court to reconsider whether the bill draft on the election of MPs violates the charter.
If the court accepts the request, it could take up to two months to consider the issue, which would also mean that more time would be consumed in the legislative process, which could delay the election period even further.
The list would be handed to the NLA president today before being forwarded to the court next Monday.