Thai Candidates Accused Of Vote-Buying With Viagra: Official

30 Nov

BANGKOK: Parliamentary candidates in Thailand’s upcoming election are trying to buy the votes of elderly men by passing out free Viagra, a local government official said on Friday.

Thais head to the polls on December 23 for the first time since the military toppled the elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup last year.

Residents in Prathumthani, on the northern outskirts of Bangkok, reported some of the candidates were passing out doses of the anti-impotence drug in exchange for promised votes, said Sayan Nopkham, a local government official.

“The villagers told me they have been given one or two pills of Viagra by candidates. Then they come to me to ask for more pills, or sometimes coffee, in exchange for voting for my brother, who is also running for a seat,” he told AFP.

Thailand has a long history of vote-buying, but laws banning it have recently been toughened.

Anyone found guilty of buying votes could face up to 10 years in prison while voters who accept money face up to five years in jail.

Charungwit Phumma, an investigator with the Election Commission, said he had received no formal complaints about a Viagra-for-votes scheme.

“It’s a funny claim,” he said.

Charungwit said the most common complaints filed with his office were voters being paid to join a political party or being promised cash for going to the ballot box.

– AFP/so

Channel News Asia

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