EC will dissolve Pheu Thai if probe finds Thaksin controls it

Election Commission secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma says a probe is underway into a Pheu Thai members’ meeting with fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Hong Kong. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Election Commission (EC) has threatened to dissolve Pheu Thai if an inquiry into a meeting of party members with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Hong Kong finds the party let a non-member or outsider interfere in its internal affairs.

EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma said on Tuesday the commission had already ordered a fact-finding investigation into the Pheu Thai politicians’ Hong Kong trip.

He said the Political Party Act prohibits any non-member or outsider from interfering with a political party’s internal affairs. If inquiry finds that Pheu Thai allowed a non-member to control its affairs, the party would be immediately dissolved, Pol Col Jarungvith said.

The EC secretary-general was responding to reports that a group of former Pheu Thai MPs recently travelled to Hong Kong to meet fugitive ex-premier Thaksin.

The EC would also investigate allegations that some people had collected ID cards from local residents in Nakhon Ratchasima, Pol Col Jarungvith said.

Officials would be sent to ask them why they handed their ID cards over to those people.

On Sept 5, the Bhumjaithai Party denied an accusation that it had offered benefits to people in Nakhon Ratchasima to boost its membership — a violation of the law on political parties which could potentially lead to the party being dissolved.

Sora-at Klinprathum, Bhumjaithai’s chief adviser, was responding to a complaint that former red-shirt leader Suporn Atthawong filed with the Election Commission’s provincial office in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Mr Suporn, formerly a key figure in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), claimed that Pornchai Amnuaysap, a provincial councillor in Nakhon Ratchasima, teamed up with the owner of a local tapioca flour factory in hiring village health volunteers to collect ID cards from residents of Soeng Sang and Khon Buri districts they were recruiting as Bhumjaithai members. In exchange, they were paid 50-100 baht each.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon just shrugged off speculation the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) had a plot to dissolve the Pheu Thai Party.

Gen Prawit, also defence minister, said he had nothing to do with the EC’s probe into Thaksin’s alleged control over Pheu Thai’s affairs. He was not the NCPO, only a part of it.

The NPCO had not held any meeting on the issue, he said. He wondered why Pheu Thai should be so afraid of dissolution if had done nothing wrong. Other parties had never feared dissolution, he added.

Observers speculate that Pheu Thai had set up the Pheu Tham and Pheu Chart parties as back-up parties in the event of a “political accident’’.

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