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Election

New Democrat leader may lean party away from pro-Army coalition

The Thaiger

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New Democrat leader may lean party away from pro-Army coalition | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

With a new leadership team heading up the Democrats, the focus is now on which way they will tip their MP seats in the formation of the new lower house in the Thai parliament.

Whilst most pundits have thought they’d be leaning towards supporting the Palang Pracharath party (PPRP), who have current PM Prayut Chan-o-cha as their prime ministerial candidate, pundits believe the new leadership team are more unpredictable now as to which way their allegiances will swing.

Acting leader Jurin Laksanavisit was elected the new Democrat leader winning 160 votes, from the 291 members selected to vote, yesterday afternoon.

The Democrats performed poorly in the March 24 election prompting the immediate resignation of then leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on the morning of March 25 when results were published showing the party had lost a huge chunk of their votes to the new Future Forward party and Palang Pracharat.

There won’t much time to relax as the pressure is now on for their first major decision to decide whether to partner with the PPRP, work as an independent opposition, or join up with by Pheu Thai and Future Forward.

Many Democrats have said outright they would never side with Pheu Thai, mortal political enemies for over a decade. But they’ve also said they wanted to ensure they could help get the Army out of politics.

So the potential of them to be a small political opposition rump, siding neither with PPRP or Pheu Thai could be a reality, making it harder for any of the larger parties to pull together a majority lower house government.

Despite their differences, the Democrats, Pheu Thai and Future Forward share a common aim of amending the current constitution, which is widely seen as a tool to help Gen Prayut prolong his grip on power.

Mr Jurin and his key supporters, including the former leader Abhisit, Chuan Leekpai, the party’s chief adviser, and Banyat Bantadtan, another former party leader, have made it clear the Democrat Party should not support the PPRP to set up a proxy Army government.

So, until the Democrats, and the other large chunk of MP seats from Bhumjaithai, announce where they are placing their votes, we are no closer to knowing what the next parliament will look like.

Meanwhile, HM The King has announced that he will open the new parliament on May 24 so between now and then, something will have to happen. Expect phones too run hot in the days ahead.



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Thanathorn is able to attend this afternoon’s opening of Parliament

The Thaiger

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Thanathorn is able to attend this afternoon’s opening of Parliament | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, heading to the opening of Parliament today?

Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has been told he can attend the opening of parliament today by His Majesty the King in the conference hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But the 41 year old leader of Future Forward is yet to confirm his attendance after being told yesterday he would not be able to be part of the opening proceedings.

Sorasak Pienwech, the secretary-general of the House of Representatives, says his office is yet to receive a formal order from the Constitutional Court temporarily suspending Thanathorn’s parliamentary membership so, as far as they’re concerned, he is still a member of parliament and is permitted to attend today’s opening at 3pm.

The Constitutional Court voted 8:1 yesterday to suspend Thanathorn’s parliamentary membership after it unanimously voted to accept the Election Commission’s media share ownership case against him.

As for the meeting of MPs tomorrow, in the conference hall of TOT Company on Chaengwattana road, he said Thanathorn can attend because he has not yet taken an oath as constitutionally mandated.

After the oath-taking ceremony, however, he will have to stop performing his duties as an MP and will have to leave the meeting, according to Mr. Sorasak.

Informed sources said that Mr. Pornpektch Wichitcholachai, former president of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly, will be nominated as the only candidate and he is likely to be elected the Senate speaker because of his close connection with the junta, especially Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Election

Thanathorn forced to sit out Parliament opening today amid media share controversy

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thanathorn forced to sit out Parliament opening today amid media share controversy | The Thaiger

“This is not the time to lose hope. It’s the time to stand against injustice.” – Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

The Constitutional Court has agreed to hear the Election Commission’s plea to disqualify Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit from the House of Representatives over his alleged shareholding in media company V-Luck.

The judges voted 9-0 to hear the case, and suspended the anti-junta politician from serving as an MP, a day before Parliament opens after the March 24 election.

Thanathorn has 15 days after receiving the court notice to provide his defence against the allegation.

The EC took the case to charter court, seeking rulings on whether Thanathorn’s membership in the House of Representatives should be terminated and whether he should be suspended from office in the meantime.

The EC petition claimed that Thanathorn held shares in V-Luck, which publishes celebrity magazine Who?, even after he had applied to contest in the general election.

Thanathorn and Future Forward Party had claimed that more than 900,000 shares had been transferred |to his mother, Somporn Juangroongruangkit, in January, a month before the MP candidate registration opened.

The share transfer document also showed the transaction was completed on January 8 but the controversy arose as the business development department recognised the shareholder change only on March 21 – three days before the election. This raised the question if Thanathorn was a shareholder of the media company even after becoming an MP candidate.

MP candidates are prohibited from holding shares in media companies under the Constitution. If found violating the law, the MP’s membership in the lower house should be terminated, the supreme law states.

Once the case was accepted by the Constitutional Court, it also had the jurisdiction to suspend the accused MP from work until a ruling was made.

As a result of the suspension, Thanathorn cannot enter Parliament and will miss the opportunity to vote for the head and the deputies of the House of Representatives as well as the prime minister despite his success in the election.

Critics see the possibility of Thanathorn being disqualified, as a first step to disband the highly popular Future Forward Party and weaken the anti-junta bloc. If the court rules that Thanathorn was not qualified to stand as an MP candidate, the party could also be charged with approving an unqualified candidate, paving the way for its dissolution.

Thanathorn yesterday held a press conference, saying Future Forward’s fight against the current regime continued despite the current development against them.

Though his MP status was hanging by a thread, the anti-junta politician said his PM candidacy remained. He was ready to be the PM and lead the coalition.

“This is not the time to lose hope. It’s the time to stand against injustice,” Thanathorn said. “Future Forward MPs remain hopeful. I urge everyone to be hopeful, too.”

The suspension may bar him from Parliament, but Thanathorn said he would continue to work as the people’s representative even outside Parliament.

While disagreeing with the court’s decision, Thanathorn questioned if the process initiated by the EC had been lawful.

He said the EC agreed to take the case to the court even before a subcommittee had completed its investigation. The committee was trying to summon concerned individuals to provide information about the case even after the case had been sent to the Constitutional Court.

The anti-junta politician also called out the EC for rushing to pursue legal action against him. In comparison, in a similar case against Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, the poll authority took more than 400 days to approach the court, he said.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Election

Coalition talks. And then there were…. THREE

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Coalition talks. And then there were…. THREE | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Facebook page of Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul

With HM The King opening parliament on May 24, it is hoped that the political horse-trading may be over when the new lower house sits for the first time. The two parties that hold the key to a workable majority coalition are the Democrats and Bhumjaithai. They have been prevaricating for more than a month about which way they are leaning – pro-Junta or pro-democracy.

With neither side having enough MPs to form a coalition, speculation has increased that the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties could perform a “kingmaker” role. Photos from a working lunch today indicate they’re certainly in active talks to break the current deadlock.

The two parties together hold 103 seats in the House of Representatives, 148 short of a majority but enough to gain leverage against the rival coalitions.

The Democrats and Bhumjaithai won 52 and 51 MPs, respectively, but both remained undecided on which camp to join in the Parliament.

On Tuesday, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul posted photos on Facebook of a working dinner with Democrat’s secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on and Prachuabkirikhan MP Montri Panoynon.

“We’re working here, not just dining. It’s exactly like what we’ve said before,” Anutin wrote.

The photos showed the trio sharing a meal and Anutin and Chalermchai shaking hands, smiling.

This raised questions about whether the two parties would create an alliance to help form a coalition to end the political deadlock.

SOURCE: The Nation

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