Bangkok saw 2 protests on Sunday (31 March) to impeach the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), one at the Victory Monument and the other at Ratchaprasong. The campaign aims to collect 1 million signatures to impeach the ECT for its failure to produce reliable election results.
Nuttaa Mahattana protesting at Victory Monument
Protest at Victory Monument
At the Victory Monument skywalk, the demonstration began at 15.40 as protesters started gathering. Many police and reporters observed the protest. A protester showed a sign reading "I'm not afraid of invalid ballots, I'm afraid of additional ballots." The sign refers to ECT's report on voter turnout which was adjusted from 65.96% (after 90% of votes were counted) to 74.69% (at 100%). The complete but unofficial result favours Palang Pracharat as its vote increased by 500k from 7.9 million to 8.4 million.
Later, the police announced that they needed to prepare the route for a member of royal family to pass through, and asked the protesters to move to Din Daeng. When they moved, the protesters prepared tables to collect people's signatures to impeach the ECT in front of the Victory Mall. The protesters also prepared copies of IDs and House Registrations.
According to leaflets provided by the protesters, the campaign plans to collect 1 million signatures by 4 April. The leaflets also provide guidelines how to download documents, the address of where to send them, etc.
The police asked the protesters to move to one side of the skywalk so people could pass by. The protesters decided to go downstairs, but the crowd still overflowed into the road from time to time. The protesters show signs reading "respect our voice", "see my god damn head", "stop election fraud", "invalid ballots, increased ballots, b*****t," etc.
The protest at Victory Monument ended at 18.00. Chonthicha Jangrew, a protest organizer, told Prachatai English that she went to Phaya Thai Police Station after the protest to pay a fine of 400 baht for violating the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act and Road Traffic Act.
Protest at Ratchaprasong
At Ratchaprasong, protesters in red shirts started gathering at 15.40 to collect signatures to impeach the ECT. Ekkachai Hongkangwan, a protest leader, said that the ECT was unprofessional because of delayed and inaccurate reports which adjusted the voter turnout from 65% to 74% out of nowhere.
Left: Ekkachai Hongkangwan
Ekkachai also demanded that the ECT release at the minimum unofficial results of the calculation of party-list MPs. The media should not have to do by themselves what the ECT is supposed to do. As the official result will not be announced until 9 May, the number of party-list MPs is unknown. News agencies tried to report the approximate number of party-list MPs, but their calculations differ because the method described in the law is very ambiguous.
Anurak 'Ford' Jeantawanich
Later on, Anurak 'Ford' Jeantawanich read a statement:
Announcement of the Victory of the People
As civil society has been calling for an election for seven months from September 2018 until today, the People Calling for Elections, as representatives of the people, would like to make a statement for both the national and international media as follows.
1. The election held on 24 March 2019 was full of cheating. They used every trick in the book to ensure that the pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party won the election including vote buying, printing extra ballots, questionable vote counting, forcing soldiers to vote for the party, etc. This election is considered as one of the dirtiest in Thai history, similar to the election of 1957, in the era of Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram, 62 years ago.
2. Despite all the cheating, a pro-democracy party won the election. After 100% of the votes were counted, the Pheu Thai Party got 138 seats in the House of Representatives. Palang Pracharat, the party supported by the military, got 118 seats in the House. As Pheu Thai won 20 seats more then the runner up, we believe this is a definitive victory.
3. In this election, the people, who are the owners of the country, have decided they prefer pro-democracy political parties than the pro-junta party. It is evident in the 254 seats won by various pro-democracy parties, consisting of 138 for Pheu Thai, 88 for Future Forward, 11 for Thai Liberal, 6 for Prachachart, 6 for New Economics, and 5 for Puea Chat, while the pro-junta parties, Palang Pracharat and Action Coalition for Thailand, got 123 seats. The rest are small and medium-sized parties which have not clearly announced whether they support democracy or dictatorship. And so these parties are ready to form a government with the pro-democracy parties which won the election.
4. After the Election Commission announced 100% of the election results, there was an effort by the junta to confuse citizens by implying that the Palang Pracharat Party had won the election based on the popular vote, which was questionably high. The votes for Palang Pracharat increased considerably in the 5 days from when they temporarily stopped counting votes to the final count. Some media outlets who serve the military dictatorship also misled many citizens into understanding that Palang Pracharat had won the election.
5. The People Calling for Elections would like to remind everyone that the principle for systems of democracy in and outside Thailand, is that in an election, the winning political party is decided by the electoral votes not the popular votes received by the parties. And so it is clear, with no need to doubt, that the political party that won the election on March 24, 2019, is the Pheu Thai Party, which got 138 seats in the House of Representatives, 20 seats ahead of the Palang Pracharat Party, which got 118 seats. And this is a victory that we can call definitive.
6. The party that won the election, which is Pheu Thai, must be the one to form a government, by inviting parties with the same pro-democracy standpoint and policies that benefit the country, and establish a government for the people. And the Palang Pracharat Party must stop spreading news that they themselves won the election and end the competition with Pheu Thai to form a government, which creates confusion among the Thai people. Their refusal to accept defeat and their unwillingness to acknowledge the principles of democracy are disgraceful. A political party like this is unsuited to work in Parliament, whether on the side of the government or the opposition.
7. The Pheu Thai Party must nominate the Prime Minister from the 3 candidates that they already nominated to the Election Commission, and must not give the position of the Prime Minister, which should belong to Pheu Thai, to other political parties. The Pheu Thai Party needs to respect the decision of the people, who want to see the Prime Minister coming from the Pheu Thai Party.
8. From now on, when the people have announced this victory, all soldiers must stop wearing uniforms to threaten and intimidate students and the citizens. They must not prohibit political expression, because these are the rights and freedoms which the people regained on the day of the election.
The People Who Want Elections
March 31, 2019, at Ratchaprasong
Source: Anurak Jeantawanich
As a result of successful negotiation with the police, the protesters deployed an audio amplifier, claiming that they wanted to dance and Anurak wanted to improvise his speech to convince people to impeach the ECT. The protest continued and a table was set up to collect signatures until 20.00. The leaders were taken to Lumpini Police Station. Ekkachai reported that he was fined 200 baht for violating the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act.