Thailand's election agency head slams axing of 'red card' capacity

An Election Commissioner has voiced displeasure over the draft charter taking away the EC's power to red card politicians for election fraud and giving it to the judiciary.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said having the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals handle such matters would result in cases lasting up to two years at least.

If the accused were found guilty, it would have taken too long to get rid of them, he said.

Somchai said the lengthy court procedure would not be effective in combating election fraud and could result in influences disrupting the justice process.

"If it [the provision in the charter covering the matter] is written in the current form, I don't think it can help resolve election fraud," Somchai said.

"We are likely to become politicians' tools, just like the election in February 2, 2014. I never said that if there was a problem the government [at that time] must be responsible for it.

"And this time I will say the same again: If an election takes place under this constitution and becomes a problem later, the CDC [Constitution Drafting Committee] must be responsible for that."

Somchai said between 2009 and 2014 there were 232 election fraud cases involving Senate and local organisation candidates forwarded to the courts, but 43 per cent of the cases were dismissed.

He claimed that the dismissals were the result of politicians influencing witnesses. Under the fact-finding process, witnesses may have felt threatened, he explained.

Somchai said the EC had proposed issuing 'red cards' before election results were announced to close a loophole.

He said the issuing of an "orange card", the equivalent to issuing a yellow card twice, should have been clearly addressed in the draft charter instead of placing the provision under an organic law.