By Jintana Panyaarvudh
Campaigning ahead of the March 24 election is getting a little too heated in the view of some observers.
The old habit of slinging mud between rival politicians has revived prompting critics to raise concerns.
“The world has evolved but Thai politicians have failed to develop or employ new, creative methods in their campaigns to attract voters,” said Wilaiwan Jongwilaikasaem, associate dean for academic affairs at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication.
She notes that traditional posters and banners were still being used to familiarise voters with the candidates, though some parties are also making good use of social media and infographics.
But she says there is still a lack of focus on policies and the overall campaign is instead being used to propagate hate speech and smear rivals. Voters will inevitably have difficulty deciding whether some accusations in circulation are even factual, Wilaiwan said.
“We expect the 7 million first-time voters, including those who have just turned 18, to be enthusiastic about casting their ballots. But what concerns me the most is whether their votes will be ‘quality votes’.”
Wilaiwan also wonders whether new voters will be able to play a major role in changing the face of politics, especially given such a short time before election day. Although some young voters are interested enough to look into candidates’ qualifications and verify whether claims made are true or false, she pointed out that many more are attracted to specific candidates based only on their celebrity status.
The academic cited presidential elections the US where there are typically only two rivals and they compete on policy. Candidates win or lose depending on what their parties have to offer.
In fact, the policies are so popular that the camp has continued winning, no matter what the party’s name, be it the now-disbanded People Power Party or the current Pheu Thai Party. This time around, though, many other parties are also embracing populist policies.
The main message candidates have been delivering to voters has not changed much, with many parties’ political discourses still “trapped” in either the fight for democracy or populist policies, said Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of political science at Ubon Ratchathani University.
The Democrat and Future Forward parties are leaning towards populism, while the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat is disguising its policies under the theme of “reconciliation”, he said.
“But in reality, these discourses do not reflect any changes in Thai politics,” he said
“The Democrat and Future Forward parties are offering a welfare state but have yet to show how it will be sustainable or if recipients would be self-reliant. Phalang Pracharat Party is relying on the reconciliation discourse to explain why the military is still necessary to maintain order.”
“The political discourse used by pro-junta parties is undermining the progress of Thai democracy, he added.
However, he said, though the election is not expected to bring massive change to society, it will at least encourage voters to pay more attention to democracy.
“I think this election is more like a referendum on democracy or an indicator of how desperately Thai voters want democracy, rather than actually returning to true democracy. What we will have is just pseudo-democracy,” he said.
“This election is being held just so that Thailand can be a part of international democracy. Otherwise it will be difficult for it to promote its economic policies internationally.”
Titipol, who lectures on political communication, said the most important concern was not about what politicians convey to voters, but rather voters being open to two-sided information.
“It doesn’t matter who you support, but you should make time to listen to all opinions so you can make a good decision,” he said.
SOURCE: The Nation
Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court
Leader of the Future Forward Party, 41 year old Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, has been disqualified as a Member of Parliament following the handing down of a guilty verdict by the Thai Constitutional Court today.
The Court’s findings say Thanathorn was still holding shares in a media company when he registered to run in the March 24 national election. Thanathorn presented evidence during hearings into case declaring that he’d divested himself of any company shares before the calling of the election.
Constitutional pundits say the ruling now paves the way for Thanathorn to be charged under Article 151 of the Elections Act which specifies a jail term of up to 10 years and a political ban for 20 years for anyone found guilty of registering to run in MP elections while knowing that he or she is not qualified.
Thanathorn was originally accused by the Election Commission of still holding 675,000 shares in his family-owned V Luck Media Company when he registered to run in the general election in March this year.
During his defence Thanathorn insisted that the company was not a mass media entity in the general sense as it published only an in-flight magazine and a glossy franchised lifestyle magazine. He also presented evidence that he had transferred all the shares in question to his mother prior to registering to run in the election.
Article 98 of the Constitution prohibits proprietors or share-holders of media companies to run in elections out of fear they would have undue political influence, according to Thai PBS World.
The court dismissed Thanathorn’s defence on both points and revoked his status as an elected MP effective as of May 23 when he was suspended from active duty as MP after the Election Commission made the charges.
Hundreds of supporters of Future Forward Party showed disappointment as they listened to the verdict broadcast on close-circuit TV in the lobby of the Constitutional Court under tight security. Representatives from the US Embassy and EU in Bangkok were also seen attending the session as observers.
Despite his absence from the Parliamentary chamber, and his suspension as an MP at the time, Thanathorn narrowly missed being elected as the Thai PM in the first sitting of the new Parliament.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
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School funding challenge for bilingual curriculum
The secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), Amnat Wichayanuwat, says plans to introduce a bilingual school curriculum at all grade levels have thrown up an obstacle for meeting funding requirements.
The bilingual curriculum plans were announced by the Education Minister last week in an effort to improve English proficiency among the Thai population. It’s hoped to have the curriculum in place from kindergarten level at more than 2,000 district schools from the beginning of the 2020 academic year.
However, the OBEC secretary-general says one of the conditions under which schools can qualify for Mini English Programme (MEP) funding, is by showing that Ordinary National Educational Test (O-NET) scores have consistently improved for at least three years.
Amnat says it’s simply not possible for schools to meet this requirement.
“This is impossible because these schools haven’t even started with the new lessons. To launch the MEP classrooms efficiently, we will therefore adjust the qualification and submit it to the Provincial Schools Admission Committee for consideration.”
Amnat says OBEC will reinstate provincial English Resource and Instruction Centres to help determine the curriculum. He draws attention to the need to examine English language proficiency in both teachers and students and work on areas that need improvement.
“And there will be an English proficiency assessment using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages standard. This will expand the opportunities for education and create equality among educational institutes.”
Thailand was recently ranked 74 out of 100 on the English language proficiency index, with its ranking continuing to drop for three years in a row.
See earlier story HERE.
SOURCE:nationthailand.comKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises
Amidst rumours circulating that the Palang Pracharat Party may renege on some of the promises it made to secure MP votes from the Democrats and Bhumjaithai, the Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanavisit says he believes the Palang Pracharat party will keep its promises.
Thepthai Senpong MP, a key Democrat party member, is warning that the coalition government will be in big trouble if the promise is broken. He says the coalition government would “function with great difficulty” if the Palang Pracharat party does not stick to the promises it made to the Democrats, according to Thai PBS.
Meanwhile, Somsak Thepsutin, one of the Sam Mitr faction within Palang Pracharat, says that if one of their group isn’t offered the agriculture minister’s post (reportedly offered to the Democrats as part of the ‘deal’), the promises they made with Thai voters during the election campaign could be affected.
Somsak has already spoken of his aspirations to become the next agriculture minister, despite the portfolio being used as a political football during negotiations with the Democrats.
But the new leader of the Democrats, Jurin Laksanavisit insists that the issue of the quota of ministries for his MPs has already been settled. He re-iterated yesterday that Palang Pracharat would not go back on its promises to the Democrats. He added that he had not been informed of any changes to their arrangements despite being aware of the media reports about the prevarication.
SOURCES: Thai PBS | The NationKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
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