The junta’s draft charter referendum faced an epic struggle over the past weekend as the voter lists across the country were spoiled by kids, monkeys and rain. The state authorities also confiscated advertising flags of a coffee product whose name could be translated as ‘vote no.’
Thai state authorities were troubled during the past weekend after voter lists for the August draft charter referendum were reportedly destroyed in various provinces for a variety of absurd reasons.
Keep voter lists away from children
On Saturday, 23 July 2016, police officers in the eastern province of Rayong interrogated four junior high school students for ripping the list of 380 voters at a local community hall. The authorities asked the children whether they were hired or encouraged to destroy the list but the students said they were just playing around, reported
According to Matichon Online, two of the four confessed to the authorities that while they were playing around at the community hall, they tore off three sheets and burned them by a canal just for fun. They thought that it was just an old useless pile of paper. However, another two students insisted that they did not do anything with the lists.
The police then sent the two students who confessed to the local Juvenile and Family Court to press charges. However, the police have not yet pressed any charges against the two.
Matichon Online also reported that most local villagers preferred to remain silent on the issue as the local authorities had prohibited them from talking about it. However, they complained that the authorities should keep important official documents away from children.
This is the second report of underage children destroying voter lists. Previously, two eight-year-olds were also prosecuted for the same reason. The children will not be punished because they are under the age of legal responsibility, but they will now have a criminal record.
Anti-draft charter instant coffee: ‘Gano’
On the same day, local authorities in the northeastern province of Sisaket confiscated 47 small handmade flags with the message ‘Gano,’ on suspicion that the flags were a part of political campaign against the draft referendum (‘ga’ in Thai means ‘mark a ballot’ so ‘Gano’ could be interpreted as ‘Vote No’). The flags were placed at random on a 200-meter-long stretch of a road in Sisaket, reported
After a serious investigation, Thawat Suraban, the Provincial Governor, revealed to the media that ‘Gano’ is actually the brand name of an instant coffee containing extracts of Lingzhi mushrooms and has no involvement at all with the referendum. The product’s salesman booked a nearby restaurant for a meeting so he put up the flags as signposts for meeting participants, reported Khaosisaket.
Local authorities confiscate 'Gano' flags (source: Khaosisaket)
Gano instant coffee (source: Gano Product's Facebook page)
Monkeys escape arrest after spoiling voter lists
On Sunday, 24 July 2016, almost a hundred monkeys destroyed voter lists in the sermon hall of Hat Mun Krabue temple, which is expected to be a local polling station in the referendum, in the central province of Phichit. Five pages of the voter lists and seven information posters were either damaged or stolen by the monkeys, reported
Khaosod also reported that in the late morning, the monkeys living at the temple stormed into the sermon hall. Chatchawan Suksawat, the village head who first visited the crime scene, tried to catch the monkeys and get back the papers but all of them escaped arrest. The village head said that he will install equipment to protect the polling station from the monkeys.
Voter list spoiled by rain
On Sunday, Posttoday reported that at least three voter lists of Thipniwet Community, in the central province of Ratchaburi, were spoiled due to recent repeated rains. The spoiled lists were attached to an outdoor green board without waterproofing.
A villager told Posttoday that the authorities, believed to be local Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) officials, installed the voter lists carelessly without any rain-proofing. Although they came back to change the lists, the board still remains outdoors.
Local ECT officials in various provinces have tried to find a solution. For instance, officials in the southern province of Songkhla, where it rains constantly, wrapped the voter lists in plastic bags. This method of waterproof does not work so well since the letters on the lists became moist and faded due to high humidity, Manager Online reported
on 24 July.
Voter list wrapped in a plastic bag at a polling station in Songkhla Province (source: Manager Online)