February 28, 2023
BANGKOK – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s Ruam Thai Sang Chart (United Thai Nation/UTN) Party could be in trouble over a speech made by deputy party leader Trairong Suwannakhiri on Saturday, said a former election commissioner.
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, who served on the Election Commission (EC) from 2013 to 2018, said Trairong’s speech in Nakhon Ratchasima may have broken the EC’s Section 4 rule against involving royalty in election campaigns.
Article 17 of Section 4 bans political parties from linking the monarchy to their campaigns, he pointed out.
During his campaign speech in the northeastern province on Saturday, Trairong told Korat locals that King Rama IX once said Thais should elect “good people”’ to government, adding that no one is better than “Uncle Tu” –Prayut’s nickname.
The UTN deputy chief then followed up by making an embarrassing blunder.
Trairong told his audience that if they wanted a good government in line with the late King Rama IX’s words, they should vote for “Thai Rak Thai” – the now-defunct party of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Realising his mistake, Trairong uttered a curse which can be loosely translated as “damn, I screwed up” as the audience looked on in surprise.
Somchai dismissed the verbal blunder but said that the mention of the late king could lead to trouble for UTN.
“This is not a laughing matter. Trairong may have violated EC regulations, which could lead to UTN’s dissolution if someone files a complaint to the commission,” he said.
Trairong quit the Democrat Party, where he had been deputy leader, to join the UTN in October last year. The UTN is led by another former Democrat MP, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha was in December appointed UTN’s PM candidate for the upcoming general election scheduled for May 7.