Sunday, January 06, 2008

'Unite at this time of sorrow'

'Unite at this time of sorrow'

Council for National Security secretary-general Winai Phattiyakul urged rival camps yesterday to heed royal advice on unity in order to restore political normalcy amid the mourning for HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana.

Published on January 4, 2008

"The great loss is an opportune time to show gratitude for royal benevolence by finding the best way out for Thailand," he said in reference to snags in formation of a new coalition government.

Winai said the CNS would not get involved in the review of electoral-fraud cases and that Deputy Prime Minister Sonthi Boonyaratglin was in charge of ensuring the safety of the five-member Election Commission in connection with the issuing of red cards to disqualify any candidates found guilty of ballot violations.

The EC had not requested extra security measures from the CNS, as speculated, he said. Winai could not predict how many electoral "winners" would be disqualified by the EC.

Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas said the country could advance if all parties mended fences. Boonrawd was optimistic the EC would complete its mission successfully in ruling on campaign violations,which is a prerequisite for endorsement of the outcome of the ballot.

The Nation

Samak wants witnesses to testify again

People Power Party leader Samak Sundaravej yesterday requested to have 20 witnesses testify again in an Assets Examination Committee hearing over its indictment accusing him of unlawfully benefiting from a Bt6.68-billion deal to buy fire-trucks from Austria.

Published on January 4, 2008

Phichit Chuenbarn, a lawyer for Samak, said he would like the AEC to summon all the witnesses to prevent the public thinking Samak had paid them to testify in his favour.

The lawyer said he feared witnesses who could have been useful to Samak might be excluded from the witnesses' list for the hearing next Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, Phichit said he had complained to AEC members that Samak's indictment was hurried, but he did not say how they responded. AEC chairman Nam Yimyaem said he would consider whether to summon any of the 20 witnesses. He said a former Austrian ambassador to Thailand - one of the witnesses requested by Samak - could be left off the list as he had declined to testify after being summoned several times by the AEC.

Nam said the AEC would continue to probe the deal and other cases even if Samak becomes prime minister.

The Nation

PPP cries foul over 'missing' 80 votes

The People Power Party believes that a counting error in Ratchaburi's Constituency 1 has robbed it of a seat.

Published on January 4, 2008

It has asked the Election Commission to review the count and not to endorse the election result of the constituency.

Deputy leader Sompong Amornwiwat said a miscounted ballot box had possibly robbed the party of a seat.

He said candidate Chaworalat Shinthammit polled 83 votes at one booth, but just three votes were recorded with the commission. "The miscounted 80 votes caused the candidate to come fourth," he said.

According to the election-day results, Chaworalat polled 92,123 votes in the constituency, 46 fewer than the winner, Democrat Preecha Khamcharoen.

Sompong said the party had confirmed with the commission director at the polling booth that Chaworalat had received 83 votes.

"We have asked the provincial election commission to review the matter and it has passed it on to the central commission. We don't know how this happened, but we want a fair result," he said.

The Nation

Disqualified winners seek legal review

Three disqualified People Power Party candidates in Buri Ram Constituency 1 yesterday asked the Council of State to review Election Commission red cards against them.

Published on January 4, 2008

Prakit Poldet, Pornchai Srisuriyanyothin and Rungroj Thongsri argued that the commission had not allowed them to rebut charges relating to electoral fraud.

They said the probe against them was conducted in an unfair manner.

They asked the council to issue an injunction against their disqualification in order to pave the way for an appellate review, in which the three could present a defence.

Meanwhile, commission member Somchai Juengprasert released three internal documents as proof he had no involvement in dispatching 708 Special Branch police to investigate campaign violations.

After the Special Branch became involved, one of its reports led to the Buri Ram disqualifications. Somchai said he had no role in the matter.

In November, the commission voted unanimously to put him in charge of checking campaign violations. It also appointed 1,200 investigators to assist, he said.

On December 18, his four colleagues made an about-turn decision without him to involve the Special Branch, he said.

The Nation

Supreme Court to rule whether PPP a nominee

The Supreme Court has scheduled next week to rule on whether three electionrelated cases merit the judicial review.

In the first case, the high court will hand down the ruling on January 15 in the litigation raised by Democrat candidate Chaiwat Sinsuwong.

The upcoming judicial opinion has attracted attention because it could lead to the cancellation of the election victory if the People Power Party is found to be a political nominee to contest the December 23 election.

Chaiwat contends four legal issues - whether the People Power Party is qualified for the race as a nominee of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai party, whether People Power leader Samak Sundaravej is a proxy in the race, whether the advance voting is valid and whether the distribution of video CDs featuring former prime minister Thaksin Shinwatra is illegal.

Presiding judge Chalee Thappawimol issued a summons for the People Power to submit defence evidence within seven days to rebut charges of being nominee.

He also ruled not to issue an injunction to suspend the advance voting results although he would address the issue if he deems it necessary to lauch the judicial review.

For the second case, the high court is to rule on January 16 relating to the dispute raised by northeastern activist Thepphanom Siriwithayarak. The plaintiff charges the Election Commission for mismanaging the advance voting process and asks for the cancellation of results.

In the third case, the high court will hand down its ruling on January 11. The dispute has been raised by New Aspriation Party spokesmand Sarwut Thongpen contending that the EC has no jurisdiction to organise the advance voting.

The Nation

Balloting outcome endorsed for 397 MPselect

The Election Commission on Thursday endorsed the balloting results of 397 winning candidates and set aside 83 candidates for probes on electoral fraud.

Of the 83 disputed results, four involved partylist candidates from two parties, People Power and Democrat.

People Power saw three partylist candidates put on hold. The three are Yongyuth Tiyapairat for Zone 1 covering the upper North, Chavalit Wichayasut and Thanathep Timsuwan, both for Zone 3 covering the Northeast.

Democrat Paitoon Kaewthong is under investigation for Zone 2 coverning the lower North.

The Nation

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