Court Rejects Nominations, Adamant Selection Panel Refuses To Quit

Source: Bangkok Post

The Supreme Administrative Court invalidated the nominations of 14 people for seats on the National Broadcasting Commission yesterday.

The selection panel stuck by its guns and refused to resign.

The court agreed with the Administrative Court that two selection panel members, Channel 5 director Sunthorn Soponsiri and Chatchai Thiamthong, the financial director of BEC World Co, had a conflict of interest.

They could easily display favouritism and help certain candidates win nomination, such as Channel 5 chief adviser Thongchai Keusakul, Arun Ngamdee, a member of the BEC World board, and Udom Janopart, an employee of Bangkok Entertainment Co.

Selection panel members did not ensure transparency by first considering whether or not Lt-Gen Sunthorn and Mr Chatchai should take part in shortlisting 14 nominees from 28 contenders.

The panel also failed to take into consideration warnings by NGOs that some of its members had links with some candidates.

“This court, therefore, upholds the Administrative Court’s nullification of the 14 nominees,” the court ruling said.

The court overrode the selection panel’s arguments that its members were not state officials, so the court had no jurisdiction, and that the Senate, which would have to appoint seven of the 14 nominees to the NBC, had power to scrutinise the selection process.

It said panel members were assigned by the state to use state property and money to select the 14 nominees, and so they were considered state officials. The Senate had no legal power to scrutinise the selection process, the court said.

Selection panel chairman Somporn Thepsittha said members did not want to be branded irresponsible so they would not resign and would start afresh in the selection of 14 nominees.

“The panel has done nothing wrong. Fifteen people, including me, are not being blamed for anything, so why quit?” Mr Somporn said. “Resigning would cause greater damage because the setting up of the NBC would be further delayed.”

He insisted the panel could name 14 new nominees from the same 28 candidates right away.

“We must get this done. Whoever does not like it and wants to take the matter to the Administrative Court again, be my guest,” he said.

Some panel members, however, said the panel was no longer trustworthy and they were thinking about leaving.