05BANGKOK801 THAILAND: PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE AND ELECTION FRAUD DISQUALIFICATIONS
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000801
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM TH
SUBJECT: THAILAND: PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE AND ELECTION
REF: BANGKOK 0673
¶1. (SBU) Summary: As the February 6 date for national
parliamentary elections in Thailand draws closer we are
seeing frequent allegations of vote buying and even some
reports of poll-related killings. These activities have
never been absent from the Thai electoral process in the
past, but the degree to which authorities are able and
willing to prosecute and punish political cheaters and to
guarantee the security of campaign workers and candidates is
one key measure of Thailand’s current level of political
maturity. With just over a week to go before the election,
there have been over 70 election law violation-related
disqualifications, according to the Election Commission (EC).
Violence has also been reported, with 9 incidents of attacks
on party canvassers (several resulting in deaths) and in one
case on a parliamentary candidate. A Mahachon Party
candidate for Parliament has been charged with one of the
murders. Over the final campaign week the allegations of
fraud – and the incidences of violence – could grow. End
ACCUSATIONS OF CAMPAIGN FRAUD RISING
¶2. (U) The most prominent allegations of vote buying so far
have been those against Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin
Chidchob — who is heading up the Thai Rak Thai (TRT)
electoral campaign in the South, and against Barnharn
Silpa-archa, the veteran Chart Thai (CP) leader and former
Thai prime minister. In each case these high profile
political figures have been accused (though in the case of
Barnharn no formal complaint has been filed – yet) of
offering money for votes. Both Newin and Barnharn are under
threat of being “red carded” (i.e. disqualified from the
elections) by the National Election Commission, but as noted
in reftel, an outcome where the full weight of the electoral
law is applied to them seems unlikely at the moment.
COMPLAINTS THAT CANVASSERS AND CANDIDATES OFFERING VOTERS
¶3. (U) According to the Election Commission in Bangkok, by
January 26, over 70 election law violation-related
disqualifications have been made. Democrat Party, Mahachon
Party and Chart Thai Party candidates were among those
disqualified (along with a number of smaller party
candidates. So far no TRT candidates have been barred for
violations. Of those disqualified, 42 were party list
candidates and 32 were contesting constituencies. In most
cases, the complaints involve allegations that candidates had
violated election laws by promising cash for votes,
distributing goods such as bags of rice to prospective
voters, or offering free trips to popular vacation spots.
According to electoral law procedures, complaints of election
violations are submitted to the Provincial Election
Commission offices and, if verified at this level, are
forwarded to the Central Election Commission in Bangkok for
¶4. (U) Since November last year, there have been 9 cases of
violent attacks on canvassers and candidates throughout the
First incident – Shooting at the residence of a TRT candidate
in Constituency 9, Nakhon Ratchasima on November 1, 2004.
Second incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a
TRT candidate in Constituency 9, Nakhon Ratchasima on
November 24, 2004.
Third incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a
Democrat Party (DP) candidate in Constituency 2, Phrae, on
December 04, 2004.
Fourth incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a
TRT candidate in Constituency 1, Ayutthaya on January 10,
¶2005. (The Mahachon Party’s Ayutthaya candidate, Surachet
Chaikosol, has been charged with the murder.)
Fifth incident – Shooting at the residence of a political
aide to a DP candidate in Constituency 2, Phrae on January
Sixth incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a DP
candidate in Constituency 2, Phichit on January 14, 2005.
Seventh incident – Shooting and killing of a canvasser of a
Mahachon Party (MCN) candidate in Constituency 3, Chiang Rai
on January 18, 2005.
Eighth incident – Attempted killing of a CT candidate in
Constituency 3, Narathiwat on January 21, 2005 (the candidate
was slightly injured but his aide remains in critical
condition from the shooting).
Ninth incident – Gun attack on the residence of a canvasser
of a DP candidate in Constituency 2, Rayong on January 21,
CLOSING DAYS COULD SEE MORE VIOLENCE AND FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
¶4. (SBU) Comment: If past electoral experience is an
accurate guide, the violence and charges of vote buying and
fraud will intensify over coming days as the February 6
polling date grows closer.