Supreme court weighs in on vote buying case against PPRP candidate

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Supreme Court is currently reviewing a vote buying case brought forth by the Election Commission (EC) against a candidate from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) from Nakhon Sawan.

The candidate, Pornwisit Jaemsai, is accused of vote-buying, an illegal practice that infringes the Organic Act on the Election of Members of the House of Representatives (2018).

This announcement was made public through the EC’s website yesterday, where it was revealed that not only Pornwisit, the contender for Constituency 5, but also his assistant Nutthanon Benjapinyo, were implicated in this alleged violation. Consequently, the votes received by Pornwisit were deemed invalid.

Pornwisit was the third-highest vote-getter in the previous General Election, securing 12.77% of the total votes. The seat was eventually won by Bhumjaithai’s Phiradech Siriwansant with a significant 47.15% of the vote share.

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The supposed infringements conducted by Nutthanon, as per the EC, included the distribution of two white shirts bearing the party’s emblem to a potential voter at the PPRP’s Takhli branch office on May 4 last year, a mere 10 days before the election date. Furthermore, Nutthanon allegedly handed over 10,000 baht to the same individual to partake in a campaign rally where Pornwisit was scheduled to deliver a speech on April 29.

It is also alleged that Nutthanon advised the recipient to withhold information about the payment from the EC and to retain 4,000 baht for themselves while splitting the remaining sum amongst their family members.

The recipient purportedly visited the party office later that night with copies of the identification cards of 31 voters from the Takhli community and surrounding vicinities, with the intention of distributing 500 baht per person as a bribe for voting in favour of Pornwisit.

The EC has procured screenshots of a supposed conversation between Nutthanon and the recipient on the Line messaging app, as well as an audio recording discussing the payment in question. This evidence points towards the possibility of Nutthanon engaging in vote buying and potentially implicating Pornwisit in the act, reported Bangkok Post.

The Secretary-General of the PPRP and Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Captain Thammanat Prompow, clarified that the party strictly prohibits vote-buying. He stated that Pornwisit’s actions did not reflect the party’s stance on the matter.

“We do not have a policy to support candidates who violate Election Commission rules.”

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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