In an unfolding drama that’s as gripping as a prime-time soap opera, the Election Commission (EC) has made a decisive move straight out of a legal thriller. They’ve marched to the Supreme Court with a mission: to strip a Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP candidate in Nakhon Sawan of his political powers, all because of allegations of vote-buying that sound straight out of a political potboiler.
The digital billboard of the EC’s website lit up with the news, announcing that they have thrown the gauntlet down on Pornwisit Jaemsai, the hopeful MP candidate for Nakhon Sawan’s Constituency 5, and his right-hand man, Nutthanon Benjapinyo. They stand accused of playing fast and loose with the Organic Act on the Election of Members of the House of Representatives, a no-no dating back to 2018.
As a result, a cloud of nullification hangs over the votes for Mr. Pornwisit, casting a shadow over his third-place victory lap in the previous year’s electoral race. He managed to charm 12.77% of voters into his corner, while Bhumjaithai’s Phiradech Siriwansant strutted away with the crown, boasting a hefty 47.15% of the vote.
The plot thickens with allegations that could rival any crime drama. Ms. Nutthanon, possibly in a scene reminiscent of gift-giving during the holiday season, is accused of offering a prospective voter two white shirts, emblazoned with the party’s logo, as if they were party favors. This exchange reportedly took place at the PPRP’s Takhli branch office on a day that will now live in infamy, May 4, 2023, just ten tantalizing days before the election.
The tale gets juicier. Ms. Nutthanon supposedly waved 10,000 baht in front of the voter like a carrot on a stick, urging them to attend a campaign rally where Mr. Pornwisit would weave his oratory magic. This financial enticement, cooked up on April 29, came with strings attached: stay hush-hush about this to the EC, pocket 4,000 baht, and spread the remaining wealth among the family. It’s almost novelistic in its intrigue.
As if taken from the script of a suspense movie, the voter allegedly trotted back to the party HQ under the cover of night to drop off ID photocopies of 31 voters, aiming to disperse 500 baht each to swing their votes in Mr. Pornwisit’s favor.
The EC, playing detective, unveiled screenshots and voice recordings from a clandestine exchange between Ms. Nutthanon and the voter on the popular Line messaging app. These breadcrumbs might lead one to conclude that Ms. Nutthanon was on a vote-buying spree, with Mr. Pornwisit possibly pulling the strings in the background.
Emerging from this high-stakes narrative is Capt Thammanat Prompow, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister and the PPRP’s Secretary-General, who seems to echo the sentiment of a principled protagonist when he declares that the party’s playbook doesn’t include a chapter on vote-buying. He distanced the party’s ethos from the candidate’s alleged rogue tactics, stating, “We do not have a policy to support candidates who violate Election Commission rules.”
This scandal has all the makings of a blockbuster – intrigue, allegations of underhanded dealings, and a fight for justice. As this saga unfolds, the eyes of Nakhon Sawan and indeed, the nation, remain glued to what might just be the most captivating political story of the year.