No funds, no fielding of MP candidates, says NLA panel

A panel of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) thinks a political party may be set up without a required amount of seed funds but such parties should not be allowed to field MP candidates, according to one of its members.

The unprecedented requirements of seed funds and membership fees for political parties are the most controversial issues of the political parties bill now being deliberated by lawmakers.

The bill is one of the four required to be passed before the general election can be held since they lay the ground rules of the upcoming polls.

At its meeting on Friday, the NLA panel set up to vet the bill believed people who did not have much money should still be allowed to set up a party, Thairath Online reported.

“But we also think they should not be allowed to field MP candidates or receive aids from the political party development fund of the Election Commission,” said Gen Somjate Boonthanom, chairman of the panel.

For those who can afford the seed funds, the panel thinks the EC should set the minimum since it knows best about the expenses of parties. “In any case, it should not be fixed at 1 million baht [as proposed by the charter writers],” he said.

On the membership fee issue, the panel agreed with the idea set forth in the bill that people should pay to become members of a political party but had yet to conclude how much.

Earlier, constitution writers explained this measure would tighten the bond between voters and parties, which ultimately benefit democratic development. They proposed a minimum fee of 100 baht a year.

“We agree the membership fee must be collected but we haven’t decided whether it should be at least 100 baht a year as proposed by the constitution writers,” said Gen Somjate Boontanom, chairman of the panel.

The panel will conclude the two issues by June 2, he said. After that, the NLA will debate and vote on the bill.

Get full Bangkok Post printed newspaper experience on your digital devices with Bangkok Post e-newspaper. Try it out, it’s totally free for 7 days.