ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
February 16, 2008
A subcommittee under Thiland’s Election Commission in charge of probing electoral fraud charges against House Speaker Yongyuth Tiyapairat has finished its task and will hand over its findings to the polling agency early next week.
Subcommittee head Suvit Thirapong said his panel had finished its probe of the allegations that Mr. Yongyuth had been involved in the handing out of cash to several sub-district chief kamnan and village heads in Chiang Rai during the runup to December 23 general election in which he contested proportionate votes under People Power Party ticket.
The subcommittee said 10 village and sub-district chiefs of the northern province had testified coherently with the earlier questionings conducted by the Special Branch police that each of them had been given 20,000 baht (US$606) in cash in exchange for their villagers' votes for Mr Yongyuth, who is concurrently deputy leader of the ruling party.
Election Commission chief Aphichart Sukhagganond declined to comment on the matter while Mr. Yongyuth looked appalled by the reported progress of the electoral fraud investigation against him.
Mr. Yongyuth said he had been framed by persons who had merely aimed to see him defaulted with such electoral rigging charges.
Sources in the polling agency said Mr. Yongyuth would not only lose his MP status and be prohibited from rerunning in a by-election but also lose his House Speaker status if the Election Commission decided to seek a red card for him and the Supreme Court finally found him guilty as charged.
In addition, the PPP could be dissolved if the Supreme Court held the whole executive board of the ruling party, including party leader/Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, responsible for Mr. Yongyuth's alleged wrongdoing.
On those counts, all PPP executive members who are currently part of the Samak cabinet -- as well as the prime minister himself -- would automatically lose their ministerial status and be banned from political activity for five years.
Yongyuth held several posts under Thaksin administration, including government spokesman and environment minister, and served as one of Thaksin's top advisers.