However, the alleged canvassing activity was not red-flagged by the Election Commission (EC) whose secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma said all parties need to find members and have branches in order to contest in an election. He, however, said that all activities must be peaceful as per regulations on political activities imposed by the ruling junta.
Junta No 2, General Prawit Wongsuwan, said yesterday that it was the EC’s responsibility to look into the matter. “I cannot say if Suthep is allowed to do this. This matter has nothing to do with me,” Prawit said.
Suthep, who led a rally between 2013 and 2014 to oust the then-government, set off on a small march around Bangkok’s Worachak area yesterday, greeting voters and listening to their problems.
Members of the party will carry out similar “paying respect to the land” activities over the weekend and meet with voters in key Bangkok areas such as Sukhumvit, Sathorn and Bang Rak. They will take the campaign to other provinces such as Chanthaburi, Trat and Sa Kaew next month.
Suthep insisted that he was just an ordinary party member and would not hold an executive position in the party or play a role in politics.
ACT’s activity and the authorities’ response yesterday raised questions whether all parties were being treated equally in terms of the political ban.
The EC had told off the Future Forward Party (FWP) for accepting donations, saying it was a violation of the ban on political activities.
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, FWP’s secretary-general, said on Facebook on Wednesday that he and his colleagues were followed by officials when they were meeting people in the Northeast to recruit new members.
Some participants in the party’s events felt pressured by officials, he said. This intimidation, he said, not only violates people’s basic rights, but is also a barricade to people’s participation in politics.
Published : October 25, 2018
By : THE NATION