On 8 May 2023, a photo went viral on social media showing a campaign message from the United Thai Nation Party (UTN) projected by laser onto the pillar of Rama VIII bridge. However, the stunt has provoked questions about its legality and criticism from the public.
Photo from Tipanan's twitter
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a former Election Commission member who is now chief strategist of the Thai Liberal Party, asked on Facebook whether this violated the election law. He made 3 points: 1. the election law governs only permanent banners, so a laser image may not violate the law; 2. projecting a laser image onto an official structure requires permission from the relevant government agency; and 3. the Election Commission (EC) may need to express an opinion on whether using lasers at campaign rallies in public areas is allowed or not.
A poster is defined in an EC announcement as ‘paper, board, or any similar solid material’ containing texts and photos used for an election campaign. The regulation does not mention laser images.
The UTN Party released an announcement that the party was not responsible for the campaign. After an investigation, the Party found that Tipanan Sirichana, a UTN party-list candidate, sent a personal letter to the Permanent Secretary of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) without informing the Party.
Ittiporn Boonprakong, Chairman of the EC, said that the issue is under examination. He stated that everything that is not against the law can be done, and if one party is allowed to campaign in a certain way, then every party should also be allowed to do so in order to maintain neutrality.
Chadchart Sittipunt, governor of Bangkok, revealed in a press release that the letter requested permission to display texts. He noted that the BMA may have overlooked some details in the letter. BMA did not expect a laser projection on the bridge’s pillar, as it is not an area where election campaigning is permitted. However, campaigning in Rama VIII Park and the area under the bridge is allowed. He believed that the candidate acted with good intentions, but there might be a lack of clarity about the details. He added that it is the EC’s responsibility to judge whether this is a violation of the election law.