The Election Commission last week found itself stuck in a situation that was both silly and serious. On one hand, it received a complaint about election campaigning that perhaps 99% of the nation would consider frivolous and, at best, a joke.
On the other, the complaint that the top candidate as the next prime minister had bribed voters is actually enshrined in the election laws. The idea that Yingluck Shinawatra’s noodle cooking amounted to an election bribe is ludicrous. Unfortunately, because of a bad law that never was corrected, the EC is actually forced to consider reversing Ms Yingluck’s election and banning her from politics.
How did we get in one week from a universally praised free and fair election to the point where almost every campaign stop by every candidate is contested by hard-nosed opponents? It is not as if this issue arose suddenly. It is almost three years since then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej was thrown out of office because he had once conducted cooking shows on television.
That decision was by the Constitution Court. It should have been a red flag that the election laws had serious loopholes giving featherbrained complaints equal status with serious allegations of cheating and corruption to get elected.
On its face, the current case involving Ms Yingluck almost gives new meaning to the term “unwarranted”. A single voter in Nakhon Sawan saw a well-circulated photo in a newspaper of the then-candidate stirring up a dish of kuay teow pad thai at a Nakhon Ratchasima market. The accompanying story stated _ probably correctly _ that members of the crowd around her got a taste of her finished noodles. The voter dashed off a letter of complaint to the EC.
By law, the commission has to consider all allegations of cheating. Indeed, the current law makes it a serious offence for the EC to do the right thing. That would be to chuckle and throw the complaint in the dustbin, so that members can consider real complaints of actual election cheating.
But that could land EC members in hot water and trigger charges of malfeasance _ under the current law.
Full Article: Bangkok Post : ‘Noodlegate’ an utter farce.