Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Election Commission (EC) in Bangkok has accepted for investigation one complaint of electoral fraud against Tossaporn Thepabutr, one of the two Democrat Party candidates elected to represent Phuket in parliament in a landslide win in the December 23 general election.

Phuket Election Committee (PEC) investigation officer Ratchapon Thongnuengarm confirmed yesterday that the EC had ordered him to collect evidence in the case, based on charges lodged jointly by candidates from four rival political parties prior to the December 23 polls.

Six candidates from four parties – People Power, Peua Pandin, Chart Thai and Ruamjai Thai Chart Pattana – held a press conference on November 28 calling for changes in the PEC, which it said unfairly allowed Tossaporn’s wife, Phuket Administration Organization (OrBorJor) President Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr, to unfairly use her position to help him win a seat.

The ensuing complaint, lodged against Tossaporn only, was based on similar charges.

K. Ratchapon told the Gazette he is now busy collecting evidence in the case with his counterpart from the Royal Thai Police and that an EC ruling should be rendered by January 3.

Were the EC to issue K. Tossapon a yellow card he could still stand in the resulting by-election – but not if he were to receive a red card.

The PEC is also collecting evidence for the EC related to a complaint lodged by K. Tossaporn and his running mate Rewat Areerob the day before the election. The complaint involves a pamphlet circulated by persons unknown imploring the public not to “waste their time” voting for the Democratic Party candidates, as they stood to be red-carded after the poll for having received help from K. Anchalee.

The Democrats asked for an investigation into who had circulated the pamphlet, which they claim was a violation of Section 53 of the Election Act, forbidding efforts to intentionally discredit a candidate by disseminating wrongful information.

Despite the alleged smear campaign, the Democrats won in a landslide.

K. Rewat was the top vote-getter with 93,004, followed by K. Tossaporn with 87,905 votes. Somchart Somnam from the Chart Thai party came in a distant third with 17,252 votes.

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