Major party is 'buying' likely vote winners
Democrat warns of upper house threat if members accept pay-off; another 'bloody May' predicted if April 2 not resolved
Trairong Suwankiri, a deputy leader of the Democrat Party, yesterday urged the public to carefully monitor the April 19 Senate elections, suggesting a major political party was wooing the likely winners.
He told a seminar entitled "Thai Politics, Economy and Society after the April 2 Election," organised by Turakit Bundit University, that this major party had recently conducted nationwide opinion polls to identify likely winners of the Senate election.
Thais will elect 200 senators on April 19 as the current Senate completes its six-year term this month.
"This party has already offered financial help to some of these likely winners and promised them monthly salaries if they win their seats," said Trairong, a veteran politician with a stronghold in southern Thailand.
He said he was particularly worried because senators were supposed to be independent of political parties to ensure they performed a check on the government.
"If they're not independent, they will become a tool of a dictatorial regime since they have the authority under Article 303 of the Constitution to select and confirm nominees of all independent bodies for appointment by His Majesty the King.
"Senators also have the au-thority under Article 307 to initiate impeachment proceedings against holders of public office," he said.
Trairong also warned the
Thai Rak Thai Party could attempt to reopen the House of Representatives following the by-election of MPs on April 23, even if the 500-seat House is not full.
"Since we've asked the Ad-ministrative Court to make a ruling on the Election Commission's (EC) decision for both old and new candidates to contest again the 38 vacant MP seats, the plaintiffs asserted that such a measure was illegal.
"If the court ruled against the EC in this case, resulting in the vacancy of many House seats, it is likely that TRT will then cite Article 98 to push for the House reopening. The law will be twisted should TRT attempt to use it," he said.
Jermsak Pinthong, an outgoing Bangkok senator, told the seminar that May would be a crucial month in Thai politics and violence was likely to erupt.
"I predict that if the April 2 vote is not invalidated by May and demonstrators stop Thaksin Shinawatra from going ahead with his political game plan, we could witness our second "bloody" May," he said, referring to the May 1992 protests that overthrew the Suchinda government.
Dr Veerathai Santiprabhob, of Siam Commercial Bank, said the economy would be harmed if the political tension was not resolved soon.