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Future Forward’s Thanathorn says he’ll “bring people to the streets”

Jack Burton

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Future Forward’s Thanathorn says he’ll “bring people to the streets” | The Thaiger
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It’s the biggest political rally since the general election in March, probably the largest rally in five years since before the military coup in 2014. Thousands of supporters chanted “Prayut get out” at an anti-military demonstration called by former MP, Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit.

Thanathorn told demonstrators that last evening’s rally on the skywalk linking the National Stadium and Siam BTS stations was just the beginning of actions against the government of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. He threatened to “bring people to the streets,” referring to the “Wing Lai Lung” (Run to Oust the Uncle) event, a running event planned for January 12.

Thanathorn says the rally was to demonstrate public anger at what he calls the injustice inflicted on him and the Future Forward Party. He organised the protest three days after the Election Commission voted to ask the Constitutional Court to dissolve Future Forward for alleged campaign finance violations.

The rally was peaceful, lasting less than an hour, with a minor skirmish between protesters and police around 5.40pm. The theme of the protest was a strong anti-military rhetoric. Although police say no permit was granted for the rally, they did not intervene.

Meanwhile PM Prayut dismissed the rally as “a personal matter,” referring to Thanathorn’s current legal problems.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Politics

Election Commission to investigate charges that Progressive Movement is run as a political party

Maya Taylor

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Election Commission to investigate charges that Progressive Movement is run as a political party | The Thaiger
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Political activist Srisuwan Janya is accusing the Progressive Movement of being run like a political party, with its leaders campaigning for members in local elections, in violation of the Political Party Act. The claim has prompted the Election Commission to launch an investigation into the movement.

The movement was formed by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and Pannika Wanich, after their former party, the Future Forward Party, was disbanded by the Constitutional Court. The movement was ostensibly created to carry out political campaigning outside of Parliament.

However, Srisuwan says that by campaigning for its members in local mayoral and council elections, the movement is acting like a political party, thereby breaking the law. If found guilty, Thanathorn, Piyabutr, and Pannika could receive a sentence of up to 3 years’ imprisonment and/or a 60,000 baht fine, as well as being banned from politics for 5 years. The movement’s members could also face having their election results cancelled, and their right to stand in future elections suspended.

The leaders of the defunct Future Forward Party have been a thorn in the side of the ruling administration for some time, with several attempts to discredit them eventually leading to a successful dissolution in late 2019, on charges of accepting illegitimate donations. Since then, they have been threatened with potential legal action in relation to donations, with others accusing them of orchestrating the ongoing anti-government protests from behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, anti-corruption activist Srisuwan Janya has already earned the nickname, “Complainer in Chief”, for what many see as a tendency to lodge frequent complaints in his efforts to hold government and others to account.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Protests

Protest planned for courthouse tomorrow as verdict on PM’s residence expected

Maya Taylor

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Protest planned for courthouse tomorrow as verdict on PM’s residence expected | The Thaiger
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The Ratsadon (People’s Party) movement is planning a protest outside the Constitutional Court tomorrow as a verdict is handed down in relation to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s occupancy of a military residence, despite his retirement from the army. The ruling is expected at 3.00pm tomorrow and comes as a result of a petition lodged by opposition MPs in March, in which the PM was accused of a conflict of interest as a result of his residence.

Members of the Pheu Thai Party are leading the charge, claiming the PM should have moved out of the accommodation at the time of his retirement in 2014. For his part, the PM says he’ll move out if the court rules against him, insisting his occupancy of the military residence is not an abuse of power. According to a report in the Bangkok Post today, the military says the property has been re-classified as a “visitor’s house” and says it was provided to the PM for security reasons.

Wirat Ratana­sate from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party says members have not yet discussed a list of potential replacement candidates, should the court’s ruling go against the PM. Were that to happen, it would mean the end of his term as leader and the end of his current cabinet. Wirat remains optimistic however, that the court will find in the PM’s favour.

“We may have to discuss the matter with coalition parties. Still, let’s wait for the court’s ruling. Don’t jump to any conclusion that there will be a political accident. The outcome may turn out to be good.”

Meanwhile, authorities in Bangkok say they’re ready to handle tomorrow’s planned protest outside the courthouse. Pakkapong Pongpetra from the Metropolitan Police Bureau says officers have devised a number of security measures to maintain order during the rally and ensure events inside the courtroom can proceed as normal.

His statement comes as Ramate Rattanachaweng from the Democrat Party issues a warning to anti-government protesters that pressurising the court could lead to charges of contempt of court. He is calling on them to cancel tomorrow’s gathering.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition say they’re confident the court will rule against the PM, with the legal chief of the Pheu Thai Party, Chusak Sirinil, saying the designation of “visitor’s house” does not indicate a permanent residence.

“A visitor’s house is for temporary stays of 7 to 10 days, not forever.”

Prasert Chantararuangthong, also from Pheu Thai, dismisses the army’s explanation that the PM needs to live in a military residence for security reasons, pointing out that the army is not responsible for prime ministerial security. Meanwhile, fellow Pheu Thai MP, Arunee Kasayanont, suggests the PM should pay attention to what the people are demanding and resign immediately, regardless of the verdict.

“General Prayut can make a graceful exit by resigning before December 2 and thus respond to the demand of demonstrators.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Protesters suing Thai PM, police and officials over State of Emergency in October

The Thaiger

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Protesters suing Thai PM, police and officials over State of Emergency in October | The Thaiger

Protesters and human rights lawyers are officially suing the Thai PM, a deputy PM and other members of the government and police for 3.5 million baht in damages. The lawsuits cover the declaration of a state of emergency that was imposed for a week during October following a major protest where a royal motorcade drove into the path of a protest near the Democracy Monument in Bangkok.

Police claim that protesters “blocked” the path of the royal motorcade, but video of the incident shows the protesters were gesturing at the yellowRolls Royce and yelling at the occupants as it passed by, without obstruction. Her Majesty the Queen and the King’s youngest son were in the vehicle at the time.

There are seven complainants, each demanding 500,000 baht in compensation.

The State of Emergency was announced for Bangkok on October 15, at 4am in the morning following the protest.

Representatives of the Human Rights Lawyers Association filed the lawsuit with the Civil Court yesterday. It lawsuit also targeted the Prime Minister’s Office, national police officials and the Royal Thai Police Office.

Nuengruethai Kijakansuparoek, of the lawyers’ association, claims the declaration violated rights to freedom of politics, transport and expression of opinion. The Association also warns that there are more lawsuits on the way.

“The closure of electric train service was ordered, some demonstrators were arrested and some people were affected by tear gas, and people were unable to voice their political opinions.”

yesterday some 5,000 gathered at the Lad Phrao intersection in an “anti coup picnic” to enjoy food, including Isaan dishes, with protest leaders speaking and musicians keeping the crowd entertained. Protest organisers said it was “a rehearsal protest against coups”.

Protesters handed the “flock” of yellow inflatable ducks over the heads, of the crowd “to represent the military passing over the people” to by-pass democratic rule and be the defacto government of Thailand. An inflatable Santa also made his way into the festivities for no apparent reason (well, Christmas is approaching).

Yesterdays rally was just 2 days after another gathering outside the Siam Commercial Bank HQ, where HM the King is the largest single shareholder in Thailand’s oldest bank, founded in 1907.

Today’s rally will start at the Imperial World Samrong shopping centre, south of central Bangkok, and march to Bang Na intersection. Then tomorrow protesters plan to hold another rally in front of the . Imperial World Samrong shopping centre.

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