PPRP’s fundraising event is considered ‘playing by the rules’?
Thai politics has officially heated up after the NCPO lifted bans for parties to organize political activities as of December 11. Campaigning on the other hand will begin in January 2 in accordance to the Election Commission’s guideline.
The Palang Pracharath Party was in the middle of the spotlight for their lavish 3-million baht-per table fundraising event which is intended to finance the campaigning season. Are they playing by the rules?
This is true, it is not illegal for political parties to organize events for fundraising and this has been a practice that we have seen for a very long time.
In the middle of December this year, the Action Coalition Party (ACT) was the first to act, organizing a gala dinner to fundraise for the up-coming campaign season. Similar to the PPRP’s event, they hosted 240 dinner tables priced at 1 million each which generated a total of 240 million baht.
The event saw leaders from various political parties participate which signifies that this is a normal tradition with full legality.
The gala dinner was led by party leader Mom Ratchawongse Chatumongol Sonakul, co-founder of ACT Suthep Thaugsuban and party executive Anek Laothamatas.
Leader of Chartpattana Party Tewan Liptapanlop, advisor to Democrat Party leader Ong-Art Klampaiboon, deputy leader of PPRP Nataphol Teepsuwan and Palang Dhamma Party leader Ravee Matchamadol also attended the event.
The PPRP’s own gala dinner organized Mr. Nataphol broke the record books for the biggest political fundraising event in Thai history. At 3 million baht per table and 200 tables available, the party managed to secure a whopping 600 million baht.
The previous record was held by the Democrat Party who fundraised 500 million baht from a 200-table gala dinner which was priced at 2.5 million baht each.
There are also cases where fundraising events cannot be inspected by the Election Commission, because they can be organized both within and outside of Thai borders. Reports suggested that around 50 former MPs and ministers of the Pheu Thai Party joined a secretive dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Singapore with Thaksin Shinawatra in November this year. However, it cannot be confirmed whether this was a fundraising event.
According to the Election Committee, the law only stipulates that donors can donate no more than 10 million baht per person per year, with the 2 most typical methods organized by political parties is through organizing gala dinners or exclusive talk shows.
As long as this regulation is upheld, such events are completely legal and everyone has the right to donate regardless if they are from the public or private sector. A clear receipt from the donations must be collected in order for the EC to inspect.
The Election Commission themselves also have 117 million baht worth of funds to subsidize political parties in their campaigning endeavors like every other election.
Spectators should expect more events from other political parties to follow suit in the short future as they scramble to finance the hefty bills of campaigning across the country. Whether donors will receive some sort of benefit or influence over the side they chose to support remains a question that will have to be left unanswered until the political game unfolds.