By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THE ELECTION COMMISSION was today (Mar.17) petitioned to investigate the allegedly illicit use of government property and personnel in a popularity-wooing campaign specifically arranged for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, head of the Thai Liberal strategic policy steering team, petitioned the Election Commission to conduct a thorough probe and determine whether Prayut who is contesting an upcoming general election to retain power under the Ruam Thai Sang Chart banners has allegedly abused his power by using government property and personnel to serve his electoral campaign and woo popularity for himself from among constituents nationwide.
According to the Thai Liberal policy steersman, himself a former election commissioner, Prayut has made 16 “official” visits to 18 provinces, evidently intertwined with the Ruam Thai Sang Chart electoral campaigns, with the use of air force planes and army helicopters since late December.
Prayut has allegedly flown eight flights of the gas-guzzling, luxury air force planes and 18 flights of the army helicopters during his “official” trips to the provinces to practically tend to errands more suitable for a local leader than a prime minister, Somchai said.
Besides, government personnel and local villagers had been allegedly recruited to prearranged venues to receive the visiting Prayut, accompanied by Ruam Thai Sang Chart members who have reportedly planned to run for MP in the general election, according to the former election commissioner.
“A prime minister is not primarily obliged to ceremonially launch a car ferry, open a local park, inspect progress in the construction of a carpark building in a hospital or inspect a dilapidated pagoda in Ayutthaya,” Somchai said.
Prayut has merely done so under the pretext of his “official” trips to the provinces but with thinly-veiled intent to woo popularity from among constituents, the Thai Liberal policy steersman remarked.
If found guilty as charged, Prayut could possibly be prohibited by law from contesting any election for a number of years whilst his ultra-conservative party could possibly be dissolved with all its executive board members being banned for a number of years, according to the former election commissioner.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visiting Nong Bua Lamphu, above, and a dilapidated pagoda in Ayutthaya, Front Page, earlier this month. Top photo: Thai Rath, Front Page photo: Naewna
Insert: Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, head of Thai Liberal strategic policy steering committee. Photo: Thai Rath