New election ordered for Patong

PATONG: Thailand’s Central Election Committee (CEC) has declared the Patong Municipal elections of February 8 void and handed “yellow card” warnings to both parties in the poll. On June 11, the decision was passed to the apparent winners, the Patong Progress Party (PPP) of Songserm Kepsap, and to the rival Rak Patong Party (RPP) of Pian Keesin. A new election date was set for June 20, and both parties immediately began frantic campaigning. The Chairperson of the Phuket Election Committee (PEC), Dr Prapa Kayee, announced the decision in a press conference at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday. She said the poll results had been voided because the election was found to have been “unclean and unfair”. She declined to give further details. Dr Prapa said that the reason for the short campaign period was to give politicians and their supporters less opportunity to break campaign laws again. The PEC, she added, has been watching every candidate from both parties carefully since June 11. “This is the third election for Patong Municipality [in 19 months] and we hope to settle things this time. There were problems in the past two elections and we don’t want to see a fourth election,” she said. She pointed out that Patong Municipality spent at least 800,000 baht on the last election and will have to spend at least 500,000 baht more this time around. This was money, Dr Prapa said, that should have been used to develop Patong instead. K. Pian told the Gazette, “Frankly, there are some people who have problems, so I don’t believe this coming election will be clean. “If they want to be thieves, they must avoid being caught. And if they have been caught already, they shouldn’t be mad at the officers [of the CEC and the PEC] just because they themselves are thieves.” K. Pian added that voters are already bored of elections. The June 20 poll will allow only a short period for people to understand the election process, he said. “However, it’s a good thing that candidates won’t have much time to contravene regulations in this election.” PPP leader K. Songserm was “too busy campaigning to talk to the press,” said one of his deputies, Somkiat Kuru. But K. Somkiat added that the party was “stunned” by the CEC’s decision to call a new election. “We state emphatically that we were not involved in [vote-buying],” he said. He explained that a supposed supporter of the PPP who had allegedly offered 3,000 baht per vote to local people was in fact closely affiliated to the RPP. The CEC had, in effect, been tricked. “However,” he added, “we respect the CEC’s decision to call a new election.” K. Somkiat added that the people of Patong are beginning to understand the truth and lose faith “in a person who has done wrong so often in the past, so they won’t vote for that person in the coming election.”

Phuket News
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