The draft referendum bill sets heavy sentences for denouncing the referendum or publishing polls predicting the result too close to voting day on August 7. The Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) will regulate all campaigns, both supporting and opposing the draft charter.
The bill sets a heavy sentence for anyone who tries to oppose the referendum.
Article 62 states “anyone who publishes text, images or sound, through either newspaper, radio, television, electronic media or other channels, that is either untruthful, harsh, offensive, rude, inciting or threatening, with the intention that voters will either not exercise their right to vote, or vote in a certain way, or not vote, will be considered as a person creating confusion so that the vote will not proceed properly.” The penalty is a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 200,000 baht.
The bill also prohibits publication of any poll or survey relating on the result of the referendum close to voting day.
Article 64 states that anyone who publishes the result of a survey of public opinion relating to voting in the period from seven days before voting until the end of voting, will be punishable by a jail term of up to three months, or a fine of up to 6,000 baht, or both.
The bill allows public and private organizations to host campaigns on the draft constitution with ECT permission.
Article 10 of the bill states “the Election Commission is mandated to host free and equal public hearings for every sector involved in the referendum, to encourage and facilitate government agencies and private organizations to arrange campaigns to propagate the principles, regulations and time frame of the referendum, together with related issues, but these must follow the approach and model determined by the Election Commission
Radio stations, television stations and telecommunications businesses will allocate airtime to publicize information as determined by the Election Commission.”