Big party accused of giving handouts in Isan

Big party accused of giving handouts in Isan - Bangkok Post, December 24, 2004
The party that must not be named--TRT: ...The party also now controlled most provincial and grassroots level executives, councillors, government officials, health volunteers, kamnan and village headmen, teachers, monks and housewives groups, Mr Somkiat said...
He said the party did not fear the Election Commission because it believed poll commissioners would not dare to punish cheats contesting elections for the House or the Senate.


[2014 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Big party accused of giving handouts in Isan
PRASIT TANGPRASERT

Nakhon Ratchasima _ A big political party has exploited the period before the Feb 6 general election is officially announced to buy votes in the Northeast, a political acivist said yesterday.

The party has been handing out money, supplies, meals and sightseeing tours, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, a professor at Rajabhat University's Nakhon Ratchasima campus and adviser to the Assembly of the Poor, said.

The party, which he would not name, had intimidated poll rivals, trying to make them withdraw from the race in Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram and Nong Khai by using the powers of provincial governors, deputy governors and police.

Mr Somkiat said studies by local leaders, non-governmental organisations and northeastern journalists between September and December found the party had openly breached campaign rules in disregard of the Election Commission.

The party left money at grocery stores to give customers surplus change, arranged free meals worth 500-1,000 baht for voters at local restaurants, gathered information about individual voters, used drought-relief funds to buy water pumps, and took people on tours and gave them sports gear. At campaign rallies, five to 10 representatives of each village were paid 1,000 baht to canvass for candidates.

The party also now controlled most provincial and grassroots level executives, councillors, government officials, health volunteers, kamnan and village headmen, teachers, monks and housewives groups, Mr Somkiat said.

Pledges made to voters included settling their debts, building concrete roads, giving the elderly a monthly income, increasing salaries for grassroots executives, giving them jobs and setting up loan funds, Mr Somkiat said.

He said the party did not fear the Election Commission because it believed poll commissioners woudl not dare to punish cheats contesting elections for the House or the Senate.
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