UPDATE: See below
The Nation yesterday with the headline “EC bombshell on Yingluck”:
The commission said the endorsement of Yingluck was delayed pending an inquiry into “several” legal matters regarding her party’s election campaign. Yingluck was portrayed by Pheu Thai as its prime ministerial candidate with a controversial slogan “Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts”. She was also accused of violating vote-buying rules by cooking and distributing noodle dishes to constituents. Subsequently, the accusation was dropped by the EC [BP: Definitely dropped? ].
The EC also held back endorsement of former Democrat leader and outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva over complaints of vote-buying.
However, the EC has never “suspended” top party-list candidates in the past.
After a meeting lasting 10 hours, the EC yesterday endorsed the victories of 358 MPs, including 249 constituency and 109 party-list MPs.
Among the other 14 party-list candidates not yet endorsed by the EC are red-shirt leaders Jatuporn Promphan, Natthawut Saikua, Weng Tojirakarn, Democrat Ong-art Klampaiboon and Bhum Jai Thai’s Chai Chidchob.
The EC traditionally does not immediately endorse those who have had complaints lodged against them. The EC will meet again on July 19 to reconsider those have not yet been endorsed. EC member Sodsri Sataya-thum said a subcommittee would look into legal matters concerning the cases of Yingluck and Abhisit and report to the EC in seven days.
By August 1, at least 475 MPs must be endorsed so that the House can assemble and begin work.
The Nation again today:
Thailand will remain in suspense until Tuesday, when the Election Commission will decide on suspended PM-to-be Yingluck
Dark clouds continue to hover over Thai politics, and the saying that Thais have been cursed to live with one political suspense after another is not an overstatement. Over the next six days, the whole country will once again have to hold its collective breath, this time over whether the possibility of having its first female prime minister will be shattered. Yingluck Shinawatra has been “suspended” by the Election Commission, and the fragile political peace depends on the further actions of the EC, which will be made public on Tuesday.
The EC bombshell – its decision to delay endorsing Yingluck, outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and 14 other party-list candidates as MPs – may prove overblown if the panel was simply reacting to complaints against the affected politicians as it traditionally does. But it may turn earth-shaking if the 16 – particularly Yingluck – remain unendorsed next week. The bad news for Yingluck is that while it is not unusual for the EC to delay endorsing accused candidates (who are normally confirmed later), it has never before acted against party-list winners in this way.
Some pro-red critics claim Abhisit was put among those unendorsed only to make the whole list look unbiased. However, there are analysts who believe Tuesday’s EC action was intended to sweep both camps away to pave the way for a new political order.
Whether or not a conspiracy to rid both the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties of their key figures is brewing, the EC is not in a sound position either. The charges against the red-shirt leaders on the party list, in particular, are complicated and may be subject to serious loopholes. The panel may have become as vulnerable as the people it has suspended, and history is not on the commission’s side when it comes to legal counterattacks by its so-called victims. Former commissioners have been jailed for malfeasance.
Yingluck may survive this easily if the “EC is just observing tradition” theory is correct.
The election commission’s decision could mark the start of another “judicial coup” against the pro-Thaksin camp, said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
“This is a post-election attempt to prevent the Pheu Thai party from coming to power,” he said. At the very least, “it will stir up resentment among their supporters. And it could end up prolonging the Thai crisis.”
BP: Some comments:
1. So on one hand the EC has never suspended the endorsement of top party-list candidates in the past, but on the other hand the EC traditionally does not immediately endorse those who have had complaints lodged against them. Does this just mean that traditionally complaints are only filed against constituency winners so this is just something new as opposed to some bombshell.
2. After the 2007 election, there were some 80 winners who were not endorsed. Did the world end? No. There was not even a fuss about it. Most of them were later endorsed. For others, there were by-elections. This is the standard fare in Thailand.
3. A total of 142 winners have not been endorsed. Isn’t it just the case that the 142 who were not endorsed are just those who have had a complaint, no matter how spurious, made against them. Isn’t talk of a judicial coup and Thailand remaining in suspense a little premature? If post-July 19, Yingluck has not been endorsed then perhaps we can wonder what is happening (UPDATE: Actually, this should read in 2 weeks time, the EC will endorse more candidates next week and BP thinks it is likely that Yingluck will be one of them as the EC will want the committee looking into the complaints to look at Yingluck’s case first so if the committee says there is validity to the complaint, the EC can quickly meet to endorse her and so the fuss and questions they get will go away. Having said that there are so many complaints that all investigation into many is unlikely to be finished by July 19 and we may need to wait for the following week so suggest delaying any panic for 2 weeks) , but if there is going to be a judicial coup, BP doesn’t even think the establishment is stupid enough to try it within the 6 months and well failure to endorse as there is a complaint doesn’t seem like the first sign given the EC has also not endorsed 141 others because of complaints..