By Teeranai Charuvastra
BANGKOK — Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra have lashed out against the prospect she may be sued for organizing a 2014 election ultimately derailed by the anti-government protesters besieging her government.
While no member of the Election Commission has confirmed media reports that it intends to file such a suit over the 2014 election, a high-ranking member of Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party, which led the pre-coup government, reacted with astonishment.
“How has the world turned upside down like this? This is some ‘Thailand Only’ stuff,” said Pheu Thai deputy leader Chavalit Vichayasut. “They used something that she performed legally under her duty to sue her for damages. Is this justice? How can there be reconciliation and unity in our country?”
According to media reports Thursday, the Election Commission will accuse Yingluck of causing financial damage to the state by organizing an election that she knew would be scuttled anyway.
The reports cite an anonymous source on the commission saying the lawsuit is being kept secret from the public for fear that it will “cause conflict in society.”
“She allowed the election to be arranged even though there were warnings about the incident that was bound to happen,” the source said, adding that Yingluck will stand trial on charges of malfeasance and negligence of duty.
The 48-year-old Yingluck’s supporters on social media responded with anger at the news.
“Yingluck had no power to cancel the election, and if she didn’t organize an election within the timeframe mandated by the constitution, she would have also been guilty,” wrote Facebook user Pongtawas Max Prommawan in reply to a BBC Thai story. “Strange things in Thai politics are endless.”
Another commentator said it was absurd for the nation’s elections agency to sue anyone for organizing a vote.
“Instead of prosecuting the people who blocked and disrupted the election, they prosecute the people who ran for the election,” wrote Facebook user Ang Yee. “The EC is ridiculous.”
The February 2014 election was announced two months after Yingluck dissolved the parliament to appease anti-government protesters demanding her ouster. In response, protesters led by a hardline conservative group called the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State, or PCAD, mobilized to forcibly disrupt and block voting in 14 southern provinces and 15 districts in the capital.
In this Jan. 26, 2014 file photo, police officers escort a woman away from a group of anti-government protesters who were besieging a polling station in Bangkok's Bueng Kum district.
The Constitutional Court voided the results on the grounds that all provinces did not vote on the same day. The government was lobbying the commission for another poll when the military seized power in May 2014.
Many Pheu Thai members have accused the commission of siding with the protesters because it refused Yingluck’s request to hold fresh elections after the court nullified the poll.
Pheu Thai’s Chavalit said the case is further political persecution perpetuated by those behind the 2014 street protests.
“This fact is known throughout the country. Which political group tried to disrupt the election and prevent the election from being successfully organized?” Chavalit said.