Poll Observers Give ‘F’ Grade to Election Commission

Bhumjaithai Party members campaign from a saleng Wednesday in Nakhon Sawan province.
Bhumjaithai Party members campaign from a saleng Wednesday in Nakhon Sawan province.

BANGKOK — The Election Commission was given failing marks by an independent poll observer Tuesday for its performance in the past six months.

The People’s Network for Elections, a grassroots elections watchdog also known as PNET, said the commission has failed to demonstrate it is not under undue political influence since it was dissolved and reconstituted late last year.

“There were many petitions, but only one was forwarded to the Constitutional Court,” it said in a statement referring to a case against opposition party Thai Raksa Chart. It faulted the commission for taking no action on another petition seeking a ruling on whether junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha should be forbidden from seeking the office of prime minister.

The commission’s secretary-general, police Col. Jarungvith Phumma, said through his secretary Thursday that it was “inconvenient” to comment on the matter.

What’s more, the group said there was a period of 10 days during which the commission failed to meet despite a backlog of urgent matters needing adjudication before the March 24 election.

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The group also criticized election commissioners for spending 12 million baht on foreign trips paid by taxpayers in the lead-up to the election, which it said was wasteful.

It added that the commission has failed to support non-governmental organizations to educate the public about monitoring elections, which is part of the commission’s mission statement.

PNET concluded that the commission didn’t meet performance standards in its first six months. It called on the body to “improve its performance quickly as well as make timely announcements about its works, so the administration of the election … will be transparent and accepted both locally and abroad.”