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Democrats hit back

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: A lawyer representing the two Democrat Party candidates running in the December 23 general election has filed a complaint with the Phuket Election Commission (PEC) against a local Thai-language newspaper Siang Tai and several opposition candidates.

Alleging numerous violations of the 2007 Election Act, the lawyer has asked the PEC to ban three candidates from political activities for one year for breaking election law.

The case is now being considered by the Election Commission (EC) in Bangkok.

Narongrit Nethikiettiwong, a lawyer with NPK International Law Office, met PEC director Supap Akkam on December 7 at the PEC office in Phuket City to file the complaint on behalf of his clients, Democrat Party constituency candidates Tossaporn Thepabutr and Rewat Areerob.

The complaint listed allegations against Siang Tai daily newspaper, its editor Chaovapong Mekarakul, its advertising manager and three columnists writing under the pen names Karawek (a kind of bird), Yiew Plaifa (hawk high in the sky) and Thep Tewin (Angel Tewin).

Also listed on the complaint were Palang Prachachon Party (PPP) candidates Dr Sriyada Shinawatra and Wisut Santikulalong along with Chart Thai Party candidate Sgt Sorranun Sane.

At the heart of the alleged violations were news articles that the Democrat candidates claimed supported the PPP candidates but defamed the Democrats, the lawyer said.

Over the past two months, Siang Tai ran numerous pictures of the two PPP candidates on its front pages, including one with the caption “Phuket’s sweetheart candidates” and images of ticked ballot boxes in favor of the candidates.

The lawyer also claimed that during the same period, the newspaper had published libelous stories about the two Democrat candidates.

He also asked that the PEC suspend the three candidates listed for standing by idly and reaping the benefits of the one-sided coverage when they knew it contravened election law.

The Democrat candidates would wait for the EC’s reply before filing a complaint with police, he said.

Also on December 7, a lawyer representing Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) President Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutra filed a criminal complaint with Phuket City Police alleging libel against the same nine parties listed in the complaint filed with the PEC.

The lawyer, Wittaya Thongkung, said the charges were filed by K. Anchalee on a personal basis and not as head of the OrBorJor.

K. Anchalee, wife of Democrat Party candidate K. Tossaporn, has alleged that the nine parties listed libeled her in claiming that she had used her position as OrBorJor President to help campaign for her husband.

Copies of the allegedly libelous news stories and opinion pieces published in Siang Tai were presented as evidence.

On December 3, candidates from four political parties filed their own charges with the PEC claiming unfair support by the OrBorJor for the Democrat Party candidates. They presented as evidence a Siang Tai article alleging that the OrBorJor, using taxpayers’ money, flew members of a housewives association on a four-day excursion to Malaysia as a way of drumming up support for the Democrats.

PPP Candidate K. Wisut told the Gazette that he and fellow candidates had asked only for fairness from the PEC after the OrBorJor listed the two Democrat candidates as senior OrBorJor advisors on numerous occasion, giving them an unfair advantage in violation of election law.

“The best thing we can do is explain to K. Anchalee that we need fairness from the PEC. We don’t want to defame anyone,” he said.

In other campaign news, Chart Thai candidate Sgt Sorranun Sane was admitted to Bangkok Hospital Phuket on December 9 after collapsing from exhaustion and dehydration while stumping at a campaign event in Thalang.

He was released after one night of treatment, the Chart Thai party office in Phuket told the Gazette.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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