The Election Commission (EC) has announced its intention to pursue both criminal and civil action against a Move Forward Party MP who ran in the recent May 14 election despite a prior criminal conviction. The MP in question, Nakhonchai Khunnarong, also known as Ice Rayong, had been convicted and served jail time for theft 24 years ago at the age of 20.
According to EC Chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong, Section 98 of the Constitution clearly stipulates criteria for parliamentary candidates, with one of the key conditions being the barring of individuals with criminal convictions, except under certain conditions. He said Nakhonchai Khunnarong’s candidacy should therefore have been disqualified accordingly.
Additionally, running in a general election despite knowing one’s ineligibility can be considered an offense under Section 151 of the MP election law. The EC noted that the candidate can be held liable for any costs incurred during their campaign as stated in Section 420 of the Civil and Commercial Code.
Nakhonchai publicly announced his resignation on July 27 after acknowledging his past criminal conviction, which stemmed from a theft case in October 1999. He recalled that while partying with friends, he discovered a woman’s wristwatch on a table and was arrested by police while attempting to examine it. Nakhonchai maintained his innocence but claimed to have unknowingly signed a confession while in police custody. Consequently, he was sentenced to three years in jail, though his sentence was halved due to his confession.
The EC said it was fully aware of the MP’s announcement of resignation, but said it has not deterred them from considering the possibility of criminal charges under Section 151 of the organic law on MP elections. The agency EC is also mulling a civil lawsuit to seek compensation for the cost of a by-election.