World

Poll fraud hurt Thai govt's credibility, say analysts

BANGKOK Thailand's junta may have shot itself in the foot by attempting to distort the results of a survey that sought to ascertain if people wanted Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan to resign, analysts said.

The poll was conducted by whistle-blower Facebook page CSI LA, which played a major role in bringing General Prawit's alleged collection of luxury watches to the public's notice.

It asked netizens if they wanted Gen Prawit to resign after he made a pledge last week saying: "If the people do not want me, I am ready to leave."

During the first days after the poll was posted, the answer was clear as tens of thousands of online voters said they wanted Gen Prawit to leave. Then, over the weekend, the numbers changed dramatically, showing more people wanted him to stay.

But the page administrator reported irregularities in the data, saying that votes in favour of Gen Prawit had come from the same computer network.

Plus, screenshots of an online conversation were posted on the page, in which junior officials explained how soldiers had been ordered to vote in the poll.

In addition to CSI LA's poll, several other sites also launched polls on whether Gen Prawit should stay in office. The results, too, indicated a clear majority wanted him to leave.

The disclosure of the operation targeting CSI LA has led many people to conclude it was an attempt to save Gen Prawit and his position in the Cabinet.

The manipulation only reflected the regime's ignorance of and inability to keep up with the changing world, said political critic Sirote Klampaiboon.

Ms Sarinee Achavanuntakul of the Thai Netizen Network said she also saw the operation having an adverse effect for the junta, which had "only made a fool of themselves after being busted".- THE NATION/ANN

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