EC investigates alleged Thaksin ‘influence’ over Pheu Thai
The Election Commission (EC) is gathering information regarding former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s alleged interference in the Pheu Thai Party’s internal affairs, EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma said on Tuesday.
Information or evidence obtained will help the agency to determine whether the Political Parties Act was violated and whether the party should be dissolved, he said.
The EC is reviewing photos, video clips and media reports, including those concerning Pheu Thail politicians meeting with Thaksin in Hong Kong recently, Jarungvith said.
“In order to determine whether the party in question has been influenced, the EC will see if that party lacks the freedom to carry out its activities. If wrongdoing was committed, the party involved risks being dissolved,” Jarungvith said.
He also said that the agency was scrutinising all political parties suspected of violating the Political Parties Act. A fact-finding committee is being set up and the investigation would begin as soon as there is convincing evidence, he added.
“It all depends on evidence,” the senior official said.
In an interview with NHK in Hong Kong last week, Thaksin made several comments about the upcoming election, including a prediction that Pheu Thai would win some 300 out of 500 seats in the House of Representatives in the next general election.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai leader Wirote Pao-in on Tuesday maintained Thaksin had nothing to do with the party, and that the ex-PM made his remark as a Thai who was concerned about his country.
Regarding Pheu Thai politicians meeting with Thaksin overseas, Wirote said they still hold personal respect for the former prime minister. “The party had nothing to do” with the meeting between Thaksin and the visiting politicians, said the Pheu Thai leader.
Wirote said he saw no valid reason for Pheu Thai to be dissolved due to this matter, as Thaksin has not interfered in the party’s internal affairs.
On Monday, Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan called on the EC to investigate Thaksin’s interview, which was seen by critics as exercising influence over Pheu Thai.
Despite living in self-imposed exile since 2008, some people say he has retained much influence over the party, which has repeatedly formed government. Many party politicians are known to refer to him as “Big Boss”.
The new law governing political parties prohibits non-members from interfering in their internal affairs. Those violating the law risk a jail term and a ban from participating in politics, while the party itself could be dissolved.