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Exiled Former PM Slams Military for Rigging Thai Election

Thailand's Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a meeting at the Pentagon.
Thailand's Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a meeting at the Pentagon. (DoD photo by Helene C. Stikkel)

“This is even worse, because if we in Thailand have…a government that comes from a rigged election, the international (community) will not respect it.”

Former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra accused the country’s military junta of rigging Sunday’s election and delaying the official results to keep General Prayuth Chan-ho-cha in power.

On Sunday, March 24, Thailand held its first election since a coup in 2014 removed Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra from office. The preliminary poll result showed that the ruling pro-military and conservative Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) won around 94 percent of the votes.

Thaksin, who ruled from 2001 to 2006, said that Thais and international communities are watching the election, and everyone knew the irregularity of the ballot’s result. “No, no. You know, in any games, if the rules of the games, the referee are not fair, then the results will not be respected. This is even worse, because if we in Thailand have…a government that comes from a rigged election, the international (community) will not respect it,” Thaksin responded when asked about the fairness of the Sunday poll.

The Delay Benefits the Thai Junta 

One election watchdog agency said the situation and the commission’s decision to delay announcing the result could help the ruling party. Amael Vier, the Asian Network for Free Elections (which is funded by the U.S.) representative, stated that many people did not trust the vote counting process.

Thaksin, who is still an influential figure in Thailand despite being exiled in Hong Kong, claimed vote rigging was evident as the number of paper ballots tallied was higher than the actual turnout, which only reached 66 percent according to the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT). In some provinces, Thaksin added that the military-backed party surprisingly jumped from the third polling position to first in poll results. The billionaire also cited alleged vote-buying activities in front of the poll station, and accused the election commission of changing the ballot box while accompanied by the police in Phetchabun province.

The Thai government claimed there were inconsistencies between the number of ballots and turnout because of human error. The ECT promised to deliver more information but has not yet announced the official results due to the confusion and potential irregularities. The commission’s decision to delay the poll results also sparked criticism. When ECT head Ittiporn Boonprakong was asked when the election results would be announced, he only answered he had no calculator with him.

“That is very, very sarcastic from the chairman of the ECT. I don’t know, there might be someone who ordered him to stop. This is a lot of evidence of a rigged election,” Thaksin added.

Pro-Thaksin Party Controls the Thai Parliament

The opposition and pro-Thaskin party Pheu Thai claimed it controlled the majority of the parliament’s seats. The party, which gains support from the rural and urban poor, said it is ready to form a coalition government.

According to the latest update from the election commission, Pheu Thai won 138 seats, followed by PPRP (96) and the newly established Future Forward (30). However, previously, the ECT stated there were 1.9 million invalid votes in the parliamentary election and many seats are still undetermined. As many as 150 other seats in the lower assembly will be allocated to smaller parties based on the number of votes they gained.

One of the most likely coalition partners chosen by the Pheu Thai is the Future Forward Party led by businessman Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. The pro-marijuana Bhumjaithai Party will play a vital role in determining the fate of PPRP and Pheu Thai since both are trying to persuade the Bhumjaithai Party to form a coalition government.

Thailand’s History of Military Coups

Thailand has a long history of military coups; there have been 11 coups since 1932. The military toppled Thaksin himself in September 2006 during his second term. At that time the military revoked the constitution and dismissed the government. Thaksin, who was attending an event in New York, soon declared a  state of emergency in Bangkok.

Just eight years later, a coup in May 2014 toppled Yingluck and drew international condemnation. Washington canceled a joint military program just a few days after the transfer of power. But the junta claimed it gained support from Vietnam and China.

The bloodiest coup, perhaps, was in 1932 and ended an absolute monarchy in the country. The succession was known as the Siam Revolution when military members known as the “Four Musketeers” overthrew King Prajadhipok. The coup also marked the beginning era of a constitutional monarchy.


Featured Image: Thailand’s Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a meeting at the Pentagon. (DoD photo by Helene C. Stikkel)

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Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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1 Comment

  1. Kurt March 27, 2019

    We in the United States of America have no reason to look down our noses at the election
    scandals elsewhere. Every election we are given a choise between two candidates, both of which have sold out to Wall Street. They don’t even work for the people anymore, and they don’t claim to. After all the promises they make once their elected they tell us they get their orders from the deep state AKA Wall Street. This leaves the people of this country with nothing more than a mock government.
    Once again I am forced by the truth to say,” this is what money, and CAPITALISM is all about.
    It’s money that is the weapon of taking over government’s from the inside. Its money that gave us political parties, which are nothing more than platforms for corruption. Money is whats used to buy our politicians. Its money thats used to sway the judges on the Supreme court, and its money that’s used to control the justice department. This leavs the people of this country as subjects, not citizens.
    I don’t have to wonder why we are not taught
    about what CAPITALISM is in school. There is nor has there been any classes in CAPITALISM
    in American schools. Yet we are told CAPITALISM makes the world a better place.
    Really? Is that why most of our tax money goes to the military budget? Is that why health insurance costs as much as a house payment?

    Why do we vote?
    Mark Twain said “if your vote counted, it would be outlawed! ”

    George Carlin said, “don’t vote it only gives legitimacy to this phony system!”

    We vote because under the law its our only option in hope of changing our country for the better. Our votes are wasted on rigged elections, and false promises.

    We the people need to take back our State government’s, and oust our more than just corrupt Federal government. For that to happen. Good and honest candidates must run for office. People like Judge Mathis in Chicago, Jessy Ventura. People who really want our system of government to work.

    Otherwise we will continue to spiral downward to the feudal system.

    Reply

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