11 July 2024

Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) has been asked to consider easing restrictions on the distribution of relief materials by political parties during the current widespread flooding.

Pheu Thai MP for Ubon Ratchathani, Somkid Chueakong, told Thai PBS that he would like the EC to reconsider some of the restrictions imposed on parties, party members, election candidates and political office holders during the 180-days before the end of the House’s 4-year term on March 23rd.

He cited, in particular, the prohibition on providing financial assistance or relief materials to people affected by natural disasters, such as flood victims.

He admitted that the restriction makes it impossible for political parties or their members to provide support to flood victims, adding that he has had to ask the party’s other MPs in Ubon Ratchathani province to suspend their plans to help flood victims, otherwise they may be accused of breaking the law.

The restriction is not, however, applied to ministers who are not elected politicians, said Somkid, citing the case of Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, who recently visited Ubon Ratchathani to assess the flood situation and to prepare aid for those affected.

The Pheu Thai MP says that he has no objection to ministers distributing relief to flood victims, providing that they do not campaign for the parties they support and are not accompanied by party members during their inspection trips.

He insisted that he does not want the restrictions to be amended, but merely wants the EC to relax some of them, so those in need can be helped, citing the way MPs were allowed by the EC to distribute face masks and sanitiser gel to the people during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the EC setting a limit on the amount or value of the support being provided.