Election Official Defends Need For New Cars, Including Benzes

Pro-democracy activists stage a protest Monday at Election Commission to demand an election be held in February.

BANGKOK — The Election Commission said Friday that taxpayers must foot the bill for tens of millions of baht worth of new cars needed by its directors.

Commission sec-gen Krit Urwongse said the purchase, budgeted at roughly 22 million baht, is necessary because the current vehicles used by the commissioners are aged and prone to breaking down.

“In the latest case, Election Commissioner Santhat Siriananpaiboon traveled to Phetchabun for an inspection, but his car broke down there,” Krit told reporters. “His office had to send a van to bring him back to Bangkok.”

Krit said some cars in use were bought in 2011, while the commission chairman’s vehicle dated back to 2005. Each of the new vehicles would cost between 2.7 million baht and 4.2 million baht, depending on seniority, Krit said, saying that at least two of them would get Mercedes-Benz cars.

The requisition drew anger from the opposition when it was revealed Thursday in part because the commission has not organized any election for nearly five years. The election agency also came under criticism this week for not setting a date for the next poll and instead deferring to the ruling junta.

Old cars used by the commissioners would be auctioned off, Krit said.

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