TRT UNDER ATTACK
Senators say party must be dissolved
Appeal to Attorney General's Office points to 'explicit details' of cheating; legal expert questions their neutrality
Nine senators appealed to the Attorney-General yesterday to initiate moves to dissolve the Thai Rak Thai Party after referring to a report from an Election Commission investigating panel that alleged it had hired small parties to contest the April 2 election.
The Constitution Court will be asked to rule on the case if the Attorney-General finds convincing evidence that Thai Rak Thai was involved in wrongdoing.
The senators claim the EC panel's report proves that the Thai Rak Thai Party, under caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, undermined national security by hiring small parties to run in polls for the sole purpose of gaining administrative power, regardless of legitimacy and laws.
They say Thai Rak Thai violated the Constitution, in particular article 63, which states a political party will face dissolution if it attempts to "overthrow the government with the King as Head of the State under this Constitution or to acquire the power to rule the country by any means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution".
The panel's report contains explicit details of how Thai Rak Thai leaders allegedly ap-proached the heads of small parties and devised a means of changing official information on party membership registration to allow unqualified candidates to run as competitors to Thai Rak Thai in the April 2 election.
The Attorney-General will pass the case to the Constitution Court to make a ruling if convincing evidence is found of Thai Rak Thai violating the law.
The senators' move is the latest attempt by opponents of the ruling party to have it dissolved, after its bitter rival, the Democrat Party, filed a complaint with the Election Commission, forcing the commission to set up the investigative panel in the first place.
The senators claim they have to bypass the EC because its three current members have no legitimacy to handle the case following the Constitution Court's ruling that it managed the April 2 vote illegally.
The senators who took the case to the attorney-general include Sophon Suphapong, Kraisak Chonhavan, Chirmsak Pinthong, Nirun Phitakwatchara, Jon Ung-phakorn, Karun Sai-ngarm, Win-yu Urankul, Wongphan na Takua-thung and Somboon Thongburan.
However, a drafter of the Constitution, Somkid Lertpaitoon, said article 63 aims only to prevent military coup attempts, and is irrelevant to the senators' attempt to link the dissolution of political parties to the EC panel's report.
The report of the investigative panel still needs the commissioners' approval, he said, and they could reject the first-round investigation.
"The senators only want to pressure the current EC members to resign, rather than being serious about the case," Somkid said.
Thai Rak Thai Party legal expert Kuthep Saikrajang said the EC investigative panel's report will be evaluated and examined by the commissioners before they make an official investigative report. The senators should have waited, rather than relying on untested evidence.
The senators, who are supposed to be neutral, had also shown that they are taking sides, he said.
Meanwhile, EC chairman Vasana Puemlarp said the commission's investigation is not complete as the investigative panel has not interrogated some witnesses involved in the case. Therefore, the EC cannot decide if Thai Rak Thai is guilty of hiring the small parties.
Vasana said the panel has been given seven days to make further investigations.