12/18/2007, 00.00
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Thai Catholic leaders say voting is a civic duty, urge voters to fight electoral fraud

by Weena Kowitwanij
Just a few days before next Sunday’s general elections, Cardinal Kitbunchu stresses the need to vote for the best candidate possible. The chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, Mgr Yod Phimphisarn, urges Catholics to join together against vote buying and selling.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Voting in the upcoming general elections “is a duty for every Thai. If one cannot find a candidate worthy of one’s trust, then one should pick the least objectionable,” Card Michai Kitbunchu, archbishop of Bangkok, said on national TV with respect to the 23 December poll.

These elections are the first to be held after last year’s military coup that ousted than Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on charges of corruption.

This time around some 18 parties are running for office, but none seems poised to secure an absolute majority. Early polling do suggest that the Democratic Party and the People’s Power Party (which includes several supporters of the former prime minister) are likely to take the lion share in the 480-seat parliament.

According to tradition the party with the most seats has the right to form a government, in coalition with smaller parties if need be.

“All Catholics who have the right to vote should do their duty as Thais. Although the problem of limited time and the ‘new rules’ (the number of the member of parliament and how to vote) in voting may be a bit confusing we must be responsible and vote for the good ones,” said Mgr. George Yod Phimphisarn, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand.

Equally important, the long-standing practice of “buying votes is morally wrong; it is also a sin, and it will weaken the stability of the country,” the prelate said.

For this reason “we have urged all parishes to join together and create a united front of voters, making our schools available for meetings. This will make it harder to buy and sell votes.”

For Phrarajchavijitpathipan, a Buddhist monk who is well-known in the capital, voting in the next elections is important. He said: “I urge my compatriots to think about it before making up their mind. You should not vote for thieves who want to harm the country, but should support instead those who want to devote themselves for the kind of development that is right for Thailand.”

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See also
Catholics mourn the loss of Princess Galyani Vadhana
Thai Church seeking greater ties among tribal groups in Thailand’s hill country
Education, health care and rural development main election issues
First post-coup elections underway
Church remembers John Paul II’s historic visit


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