18 July 2024

Over a week since the Senate vote ended on June 26, the Election Commission (EC) has yet to endorse the results, amid numerous allegations of vote manipulation and fraud.

The new senators were supposed to be announced on Tuesday, July 2. However, by the end of the week, the EC declined to endorse the results, citing unresolved issues as complaints continued to emerge.

Allegations rain down

Many of the 200 senators-elect face accusations of having political connections or being backed by specific political groups.

There were also claims that many of the Senate election winners lack careers or experience in the occupational groups they are supposed to represent.

In addition, unsuccessful candidates have petitioned the Ombudsman’s Office and other authorities for a Constitutional Court ruling on whether the Senate election was constitutional.

Others demanded recounts, alleging vote-fixing during six rounds that saw over 40,000 applicants vote among themselves at the district, provincial, and national levels to elect the 200 winners.

Critics claimed vote fixing was behind the shock losses suffered by many well-known figures, including former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, former election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, and former Bangkok senator Rosana Tositrakul.

Some observers questioned whether certain senators-elect had sufficient education to perform their duties, saying that those with only primary education may have problems understanding the complexities of legal text.

Others dismissed this as elitist, declaring that these “true representatives” of the people may prove better senators than some of their highly educated colleagues.

They added that the accusers were simply angry that candidates they backed had failed to get elected.

The man in charge of dealing with these headaches is EC Chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong.

Last Wednesday, he announced his agency needed more time to ensure that the election was clean, fair and lawful before endorsing the vote results.

He said the EC was investigating complaints and would announce the official results after the challenges were resolved.

Diplomatic background

Ittiporn, 67, was a career diplomat for over three decades before joining the EC in August 2018. He was quickly elected by his fellow election commissioners to replace retiring chairman Supachai Somcharoen.

Ittiporn credits his diplomatic background for honing his ability to handle different people and viewpoints.

“The best way is to listen to other people, be open-minded, and try to find common ground. To do so, you require patience, perseverance, and positivity.

Also, you need to be firm, focused, and in control of yourself,” the EC chairman told Thailand Now last year.

“When you walk into the room, there may be 100 ideas, and you need to figure out how to get everyone in the room to walk out with the same understanding,” he added.

Ittiporn said that after retiring from the Foreign Ministry he initially considered joining the National Human Rights Commission.

However, he decided to apply for the EC after learning of the vacancy.

A self-confessed workaholic, Ittiporn said his duties at the EC cover all sectors of Thai society as well as international partners.

“You feel the urgency and the heat in this position. I don’t invite trouble, but if no one else will deal with it, I’m always willing and I always volunteer,” he told Thailand Now.

Former ambassador

Born on August 26, 1956, Ittiporn earned a bachelor’s in law from Thammasat University in 1979 and a master’s in international law from Tulane University in the US five years later.

He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1981 as an attaché in its Legal Affairs Division. His first overseas assignment came in 1986 as third secretary at the Thai Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.

In 1992, after three years at the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs, he was appointed as first secretary for Thailand’s Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

In 2003, he was appointed minister counsellor for the Thai mission to the UN in New York.

Ittiporn became director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs in 2010.

He served as the Thai ambassador to Kenya, Seychelles, and the Netherlands, and was also appointed as envoy to the United Nations Environment Programme in 2014.

By Thai PBS World’s Political Desk