Pita Limjaroenrat’s PM bid threatened by iTV share controversy

Photo Courtesy of Facebook (Pita Limjaroenrat FC)

Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of Thailand’s Move Forward Party (MFP), is facing a legal challenge regarding his ownership of shares in iTV, an independent broadcaster.

Although he has transferred these shares to his relatives, legal expert Jade Donavanik has argued that Pita’s eligibility for the role of prime minister still hangs in the balance. The issue revolves around whether iTV is considered a media firm, as the current constitution prevents election candidates from running for office if they own shares in a media company.

Donavanik stated that the transfer of shares may not make a significant difference, as Pita Limjaroenrat remains the statutory heir and did not make the change until after the May 14 general election. However, iTV’s status is currently unclear and is being considered by the Supreme Administrative Court. The share-holding rule has been in place for several years, and election candidates are fully aware of share ownership following the case of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, former leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party (FFP), which preceded the MFP.

Pattana Ruanjaidee, a law lecturer at Ramkhamhaeng University, expressed his belief that the media shares would not affect Pita’s political career. He explained that the MFP leader did not see himself as the shareholder but rather as the manager of his late father’s estate, and also did not consider iTV to be a media firm. However, his complainant viewed the matter differently reports Bangkok Post.

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Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a former member of the Election Commission (EC) and chief strategist of the Seri Ruam Thai Party, wrote on Facebook that Pita’s former ownership of the shares is unlikely to make him ineligible to seek nomination as prime minister because parliament has not yet started the selection process. Nevertheless, his critics may argue the rule should be applied from the day Pita was proposed as the MFP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Pita recently took to Facebook to address ongoing efforts to revive iTV as a mass media organization, which he believes is an attack against him. He pointed out the inconsistencies in the company’s financial statements, where it was classified as a holding company in 2018-2019 and later as a TV organization. Pita also raised suspicions about the possible political motivations behind a shareholder’s query on iTV’s status during the April 26 shareholders’ meeting. Despite these concerns, Pita remains confident that his eligibility to serve as a lawmaker or prime minister will not be affected.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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