“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
Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises
Amidst rumours circulating that the Palang Pracharat Party may renege on some of the promises it made to secure MP votes from the Democrats and Bhumjaithai, the Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanavisit says he believes the Palang Pracharat party will keep its promises.
Thepthai Senpong MP, a key Democrat party member, is warning that the coalition government will be in big trouble if the promise is broken. He says the coalition government would “function with great difficulty” if the Palang Pracharat party does not stick to the promises it made to the Democrats, according to Thai PBS.
Meanwhile, Somsak Thepsutin, one of the Sam Mitr faction within Palang Pracharat, says that if one of their group isn’t offered the agriculture minister’s post (reportedly offered to the Democrats as part of the ‘deal’), the promises they made with Thai voters during the election campaign could be affected.
Somsak has already spoken of his aspirations to become the next agriculture minister, despite the portfolio being used as a political football during negotiations with the Democrats.
But the new leader of the Democrats, Jurin Laksanavisit insists that the issue of the quota of ministries for his MPs has already been settled. He re-iterated yesterday that Palang Pracharat would not go back on its promises to the Democrats. He added that he had not been informed of any changes to their arrangements despite being aware of the media reports about the prevarication.
SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Nation
Palang Pracharat still quibbling over portfolios in the new Thai parliament
Election – check. Vote for PM – check. New government sworn in – not quite yet.
There is still a reported back-room fight over cabinet portfolios between factions in the Palang Pracharat Party. Several key ministries were offered to Bhumjaithai and Democrat MPs in return for voting for Prayut Chan-o-cha as PM on Wednesday.
Now that Prayut’s been installed back behind the big desk at government house, there have been sources reporting wrangling and possible back-tracking over the promises made preceding the parliamentary vote on Wednesday.
- The Democrats were promised the agriculture, commerce and social development ministries while the Bhumjaithai were reportedly offered the Transport Ministry post.
- Palang Pracharat MPs claim that, as the leading party in the coalition, it should control key ministries to follow through on its election promises.
Sira Jenjaka, a Palang Pracharat MP for Bangkok, says PPRP should oversee key portfolios which handle infrastructure and transport development projects initiated by the last administration.
- PPRP list MP Somsak Thepsuthin, a leading figure of the “Sam Mitr” faction in Palang Pracharat, claims the party needs control of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry and that PM Prayut will have a final say on the matter (a notion that was flatly denied by the PPRP last week).
- Palang Pracharat MP Buddhipongse Punnakanta admits the quota of cabinet posts for coalition parties “might” change but didn’t detail any of the Cabinet position affected, including the position of agriculture minister.
- Newly elected House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, a former Democrat PM, waded into the issue yesterday saying he was sure that Palang Pracharat would honour the promises made in regards to Cabinet posts offered to the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties.
- Democrat leader Jurin Laksanavisit says the deal with the PPRP was singed and sealed and believes it would be honoured.
- Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charvirakul says the agreement with the PPRP remains unchanged, and insisted the party will push for its election pledges to be implemented.
“We were robbed of victory” – Future Forward’s Thanathorn
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the 40 year old Future Forward leader who was up against Prayut Chan-o-cha for the position of PM yesterday, says that the pro-democracy alliance hasn’t conceded defeat but, he says, were “robbed of their victory”.
He is vowing to work harder outside parliament to prove that to the people.
“This election is just one battle in the long journey to achieve democracy. We fiercely believe that, in the end, our day will come. Dictatorship cannot resist the winds of change, the winds of democracy. The people will cry for freedom, cry for justice.”
Thanathorn was nominated by the Pheu Thai-led alliance as their sole PM candidate for yesterday’s vote, admitted that he had little hope that both the Democrat and the Bhumjaithai parties would make the “right decision”. Without their vote the Pheu Thai alliance wouldn’t have a majority in the lower house to make a stand (even though the Senate’s votes – 250 – would have carried Prayut Chan-o-cha over the finish line anyway). As it was he only missed winning the vote in the lower house by a handful of votes.
Thai PBS reports that, despite the election defeat, the firebrand young politician pleaded with all democracy advocates not to lose hope, but to move forward with him.
“I would like to tell my brothers and sisters that this is not our end, it is just the beginning,” he said, adding that the election result was a proof that they did not work hard enough and must strive harder.
“Future Forward party would divide its work and resources into three main areas; its MPs will undertake legislative work and check the performance of the government, the party will prepare for the forthcoming local elections and strengthen the party.”
SOURCE: Thai PBS
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