PHOTO: Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit
The Constitutional Court is sitting today to consider whether they’ll accept petitions against 41 newly elected MPs accused by the Future Forward party of breaching media shareholding rules.
There are 41 Members of Parliament accused of breaching the rules – 26 from the Palang Pracharath Party, 11 from Democrats, and one from Bhumjaithai Party, Action Coalition for Thailand, Prachaphiwat and Chartpattana.
A legal representative for Palang Pracharat, the party most affected by the allegations, is asking the court to dismiss the petitions. He is arguing that the complaints have been improperly compiled in variance from the usual appeal procedures.
Last month Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was suspended from being an MP awaiting a similar court ruling accusing him of breaching the same media-shareholding rules.
The problem for the 41 government MPs, especially the 26 Palang Pracharat Party, is that the slim pro-Junta majority in the Lower House would turn into a minority making the fragile government largely unworkable.
Meanwhile a Future Forward spokesperson says that Thanathorn has his defence ready to address the charges. Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary general for Future Forward, noted that the constitutional court’s past suspension of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has set a precedent in the similar cases against the 41 MPs.
He says the petitions against the government MPs are backed up with substantial evidence, quite different from the Election Commission’s petition against Thanathorn, which was based on information from a news agency at the time.
Meanwhile PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that court rulings over one MPs suspension could not be used as a precedent in other cases.
Army chief not planning a leap into political life
Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong will have to wait for two years after he retires before he can run for PM, the Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam has declared – while Apirat himself claims it’s not even something he’s considering.
The Nation reports that Prawit Wongsuwan, another Deputy PM, had suggested that Apirat should be Thailand’s next PM, but Wissanu insists this could not happen immediately.
“Apirat is not qualified to be the prime minister because he is a government official and when he retires as Army chief, he will no longer be a senator. According to the Constitution, he has to wait for two years after he retires if he wants to take a position in the Cabinet.”
Apirat claims that a move into politics is not something he’s interested in at this time. Earlier this month, while speaking on the topic of national security, he controversially stated that he was opposed to the efforts to change the junta-sponsored Constitution.
This prompted academics and opposition politicians to accuse him of meddling in politics, with the PM having to defend him, saying Apirat just wanted what was best for Thailand.
Some are viewing Prayut’s defence of the Army chief as paving the way for Apirat to become his successor when his term in office ends.
10 billionaires among Thailand’s 500 MPs
Thailand has 10 billionaire MPs, while the poorest MP has just 5,064 baht in his bank account, according to reports from the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Of the 10 billionaire MPs, Mrs. Nathee Ratchakitprakarn, of the Bhumjaithai Party, wife of Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat, is the richest, with declared assets of about 4.675 billion baht.
The other nine billionaire MPs are:
Mr. Anutin Charnvirakul, Bhumjaithai party leader, deputy prime minister and public health minister, with 4.249 billion baht (including two planes, two boats, Buddha images worth 121 million baht and 395 million baht in bank deposits)
Bhumjaithai MP for Satun province, Mr. Piboon Ratchakitprakarn, with 2.342 billion baht
Mr. Suriya Juangroongruangkit, industry minister and Palang Pracharat MP, at 2.198 billion baht
Mr. Apichaiubon, Democrat party-list MP, with assets of 2.048 billion baht
Mr. Nataphol Teepsuwan, Palang Pracharat party-list MP and education minister, with 1.985 billion baht
Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, deputy education minister and Democrat party-list MP, with 1.785 billion baht
Ms. Supamat Issarapakdi, Bhumjaithai party-list MP, who has 1.609 billion baht
Mr. Kittisak Khanasawat, Pheu, Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, with 1.529 billion baht
Democrat party-list MP Korn Chatikavanich, with 1.097 billion baht
PM’s Office Minister and Chart Pattana party-list MP Tewan Liptapallop, who has 1.03 billion baht
House Speaker Chuan Leekpai has assets of about 8 million baht
Of the 500 MPs, it appears that Mr. Phisanu Polatee, Bhumjaithai, MP for Pathum Thani province, has the least assets. There was, at the time reporting, only 5,064 baht in his bank account.
Earlier, he reported that he earned 14,000 baht a month from the Provincial Administration Organization. His earnings as an MP since May totaled 829,700 baht. He said he is living in the house of his mother and the car that he has been driving belongs to a friend.
Several MPs have not yet declared their assets to the NACC’s Office, including Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Future Forward MPs Pannika Wanich and Pitha Limcharonrat.
Survey – Thais not taking sides and 66% prioritise health care
The majority of respondents to a Super Poll survey, say that they are still waiting to see where they will put their future support. For now they’re saying they neither support the Government or Opposition, preferring to wait to assess their performance.
Super Poll conducted the survey on 1,069 people from a wide range of occupations nationwide between October 15–19.
The director of Super Poll, Noppadol Kannikar, says that one interesting finding was that 67.2% of respondents admitted that they prefer not to take sides, with the Government or Opposition, because both are currently under-performing and they want to wait to assess their performance.
But 16.9% of the respondents are supportive of the coalition Government, compared to 15.9% who oppose it.
On the question of Government spending, the survey showed 65.9% want quality health care as their top priority, 59.8% want good and secure jobs, 54.3% want security for their lives and property, 50.8% want increased road safety, 48.2% want government help for small and medium-size enterprises and 37.0% want government to provide them with housing.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
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