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Weekly NewsLetter
20  June  2011
    Vol.1 No.19

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The Editor's Corner


Combatting fraud in Thailand’s election
          Thailand’s general election is 12 days away (July 3) and one of the signature elements of Thai elections has been the widespread practice of vote buying. This time around the Thai Election Commission has taken a new step to combat the practice by establishing a call center.

According to Thailand's constitution, even one case of electoral fraud could spell the end for an entire political party. In that case, it’s not the results at the polls, but what happens afterward that matters.

A dedicated call center for complaints was set up last year, after lack of cooperation during the previous polls in 2007.

Currently there are 46 cases being investigated.

Phumithak Kongkaew, Deputy Secretary General of Investigation Affairs with the Election Commission of Thailand, said: "(Allegedly), some voters were given money directly when they attended candidates' rallies.

"Some MP candidates' staff photocopied voters' ID cards and (with that proof) were reimbursed by candidates. They then checked their lists and handed over the money."

Other types of complaints are defamation and vandalism of candidate's election posters. In parts of Bangkok, observers report that many of the posters of the Pheu Thai party’s prime minister candidate, Yingluck Shinawatra, have vanished.

For now, things are relatively quiet at the call centre, but election officials know that a week before the polls and certainly after they close, there will be a dramatic spike in complaints of election fraud. With party rivalry and a close race, it may require extra vigilance.

Mr. Kongkaew said: "We've even heard that political parties have been monitoring their rivals closely to see if they are giving money to voters. They've been providing evidence of vote buying when they make their complaint. It helps the centre do its job."

The commission has also stated that it will disqualify or “red card” MP candidates before election day if conclusive evidence of vote buying or other severe offence is obtained.


Top News from Southeast Asia

June 19 , 2011


These were the most important stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of June 11-June 17.

Indonesian deficit to exceed GDP
The budget deficit may widen relative to economic growth this year, the finance minister said on Friday, as Indonesia seeks to boost spending on projects including infrastructure development.

Malaysia blocks file sharing sites  
To combat piracy, Malaysia has declared war on file sharing web sites with 10 websites now blocked by the telecommunications industry watchdog.

THAI privatization now off  
Thai Airways International yesterday derailed plans to reduce state ownership and gradually scale back government guarantees for loans taken out by the flag carrier.

Asset Bubble a Concern 
Large capital inflows into Asia over the past few years are raising concerns among policy makers of a possible asset bubble building in the coming years.

Philippines continues exploration in Spratlys  
Philippines will continue its oil and gas exploration activities in the Palawan Sea despite rising tension with China over the disputed oil-rich Spratlys Group of Islands, the Department of Energy said.

Thai exchange at 1,224 by year-end  
Thai stocks have been among the worst performers in the world this year, with the main index off 1.54 percent from January due to worries about domestic political stability and concerns about the global economy.

Nuclear still an option for Asia  
In spite of the recent nuclear meltdown in Japan, Asian economies need to explore alternative sources of energy to meet growing demand and spur economic growth, business and industry analysts said on Monday.

Politics may worry Thai investors  
Investors continue selling off their shares in the stock market because they are concerned about having red-shirt core members in the next government, Finance Minister and Democrat key member Korn Chatikavanij said on Monday.

US backs Philippines on Spratlys  
The Philippines can count on the support of the United States on all matters, including issues with China over the disputed Spratly Islands, according to US Ambassador to Manila, Harry Thomas Jr.

Singapore unemployment lowest in 3 years  
Singapore’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest rate in three years amid healthy economic growth, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday.

Philippines credit rating raised 
Moody’s Investor Service upgraded the Philippines’ sovereign ratings by a notch to Ba2 due to a “notable turnaround in fiscal management” by the government and signs of rising revenues.

Indonesian geothermal advances  
Chevron has drilled 84 wells to a depth of two miles beneath the Indonesian rainforest to tap steam, not oil and gas, that is trapped in the world’s richest store of volcanic energy.

Malaysian halal industry set to grow  
The Malaysian halal industry is expected to see tremendous growth due to rising awareness and demand for halal products worldwide.

Bakrie to build infrastructure  
Bakrie & Brothers, the holding company for various business units owned by the Bakrie family, plans to spend US$5 billion building infrastructure projects in Indonesia over the next five years, an executive said.

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