Instead of focusing on arranging the February 2 election which the EC are reluctant to hold, EC commissioner in charge of election organization* Somchai Srisuthiyakorn has taken a different tack as reported by Khao Sod (YouTube clip although only with relevant audio starting at 10:18 onwards):
Somchai said (…) “if she [PM Yingluck] doesn’t come, we’ll still send out invites, keep changing hotels to meet until we finally [zeroed in on] the Four Seasons Hotel. May be then she’ll come, no?”นายสมชัยระบุว่า (…) ถ้าหากยังไม่มาก็จะส่งจดหมายเชิญไปอีก จะเปลี่ยนโรงแรมที่นัดคุยไปเรื่อยๆ ซึ่งสุดท้ายอาจจะเป็นโรงแรมโฟร์ซีซั่นส์ นายกฯ ก็อาจจะมาหารือ
BP: If you listen to the video, you will hear laughter just after he makes his comments (by the moderator at the seminar?) as it was clear what the Four Seasons reference was about.
Below is an excerpt from a post from April 2012 with more details:
Anchalee Kongrut in the Bangkok Post:
This makes me think about the case of our first female prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who last month used her gender to respond to uncorroborated accusations about her secret meeting with business executives at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Without solid evidence, her political opponents attempted to hint towards a (still unproved) romantic link between Ms Yingluck, the mother of a young boy, and one real estate tycoon, a married man.
[BP:] It emerged that Yingluck and the Commerce Minister met a group of businessman. BP thinks the Democrats on Blue Sky who hinted at an affair somehow hoped this would result in Yingluck forcefully responding (one wonders if it had been Thaksin whether Blue Sky would have been shut down) and in proving that she didn’t meet the businessman one-on-one she would also then reveal who was at the meeting which the Democrats would then be able to use to their advantage (i.e by implying the government was favoring certain businesses). Yingluck’s initial response was to say nothing leading to more attacks, but then she eventually responded taking offense at being attacked as a female (i.e implicitly responding to the allegations of the extra-marital affair). While BP thinks there are legitimate questions to ask over who was at the meeting and details of who a PM meets with should be released to the public, the reality is once you basically accuse someone of being a slut, it is a very personal attack and you can’t then suddenly move onto other issues later. Yingluck was able to sidestep the transparency issue because of the personal attack and the Democrats eventually dropped the meeting entirely – and this not making any headway on the transparency issue – as it was hurting them.
BP: The Democrats dropped the matter after coming under criticism – from the post you can see critical comments from Veera and Tulsathit. You have to remember that Somchai is trying to have a one-on-one meeting with the PM so it seems his method of trying to convince the PM is bring up the Four Seasons Hotel issue. So while the Democrats have decided to drop spreading the gossip and making innuendo, the EC Chairman just couldn’t resist his little comment. Not actually sure what Somchai thinks will happen if he changes the location to the Four Season (that he will somehow score with Yingluck?!), but does he think dredging up rumours about the PM”s personal life will help persuade her to meet him one-on-one? This is method of persuasion?
His past shows he is a fan of postponing elections. From March 5, 2006 in The Nation:
Also yesterday, the People’s Network for Elections (P-Net), an independent election watchdog, announced it would boycott the April 2 general election along with the three former opposition parties.
As for P-Net, Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, its coordinator, said it would not monitor the April 2 election, contending it was unlikely the poll would end the conflict in society.
“To continue with the April 2 election will not assure Thai society of a peaceful solution because the election is unjustified in the first place. The rationale for the House dissolution is unconvincing, the election date is set so as to gain an advantage over rivals, and there are doubts about the Election Commission’s neutrality,” said the P-Net statement.
The group said it supported the proposal that Thaksin resign to allow a non-partisan premier to set a new election date that would be fair to all parties and to act as a caretaker in order to ensure a free and fair election.
BP: He was not the only person on P-Net back then so while he read the above statement, it is not just from him. BP doesn’t think the election will solve all problems, but this delay-and-things-will-be-better approach hasn’t proved to work otherwise. Somchai and the EC haven’t provided a legal basis to delay/postpone the election and there is no indication that the Democrats would participate in a delayed election (isn’t that the whole point of delaying the election?)
NOTE: Translation, shamelessly adapted from Saksith’s one.
*Corrected headline and part of post to reflect the fact that he is not the Chairman, but the person at the EC who is responsible for election organisation.