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PM’s oath-taking ruled unconstitutional

May Taylor

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PM’s oath-taking ruled unconstitutional | The Thaiger

PHOTO: South China Morning Post

The PM’s omission of an important sentence when taking his oath of office has been ruled unconstitutional by Thailand’s ombudsman. The matter is now being referred to the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the government was legally established.

The controversy began on July 16, when PM General Prayuth Chan-o-cha left out a key sentence during his oath-taking ceremony. The sentence refers to an undertaking to uphold the constitution and it’s unclear whether its exclusion was intentional or not.

The PM has continually maintained it’s not a problem, but the ombudsman’s office clearly thinks differently, having made its ruling after complaints from three members of the public.

Parliamentary opposition plans to hold a debate on the controversy and the PM is vowing to defend himself, rather than send a representative.

He has been in power since leading the military coup in 2014, and being re-elected in March of this year. The election was not without controversy, with some speculating that the result was fixed in his favour.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times

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Charter court will hand down ruling on Thanathorn share case on November 20

The Thaiger

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Charter court will hand down ruling on Thanathorn share case on November 20 | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Thai Constitutional Court is set to issue a ruling in Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s media share ownership case on November 20. The court wrapped up its inquiry yesterday with the questioning of ten defence witnesses, including Thanathorn who arrived at the court greeted by well-wishers.

Thanathorn, who held 675,000 shares in V-Luck Media, has repeatedly insisted they were sold to his mother on January 8, weeks before he registered to run as a candidate.

As judges fired questions at him during today’s hearing, the usually cool-headed party leader appeared tense, saying he couldn’t recall the legal details of divesting the shares. His supporters say the case has been trumped up to take out Thailand’s most popular politician and deliver a gut punch to the FFP and its radical reform agenda.

Read more about the case HERE.

Both Thanathorn and the Election Commission, which filed the case with the Constitutional Court, were given 15 days from today to submit their closing statements to the court.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Future Forward’s Thanathorn in court over alleged media share holdings

The Thaiger

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Future Forward’s Thanathorn in court over alleged media share holdings | The Thaiger

The charismatic frontman of Thailand’s anti-military parliamentary bloc appeared in court today accused of breaching election rules by holding media shares. The case could see him barred from politics and jailed for up to 10 years.

40 year old Thai billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has rattled Thailand’s arch-royalist establishment since seizing the political limelight with his caustic take downs of the army’s role in Thai politics and society. His upstart Future Forward Party, formed only 12 months before this year’s March elections, became Thailand’s third largest political group in the poll which ended five years of outright junta rule. They ended up with more votes than the older, more established Democrats, surprising many, particularly the Military-backed Palang Pracharat party.

The party was backed by millions of young people wearied by the dominance of the conservative old guard. But Thanathorn’s electoral success has been matched by a battery of legal woes.

He has been suspended from attending parliament since the Election Commission accused him of breaking polling laws by holding media shares – an offence that carries a long jail term.

Arriving for the first hearing at the Constitutional Court on Friday, Thanathorn again pleaded his “innocence” telling reporters the media company had ceased operations five months before the election.

“We are convinced that there is no evidence.”

Thanathorn, who held 675,000 shares in V-Luck Media, has repeatedly insisted they were sold to his mother on January 8, weeks before he registered to run as a candidate.

As judges fired questions at him during today’s hearing, the usually cool-headed party leader appeared tense, saying he couldn’t recall the legal details of divesting the shares. His supporters say the case has been trumped up to take out Thailand’s most popular politician and deliver a gut punch to the FFP and its radical reform agenda.

The party wants to amend the constitution to excise the military’s influence, slash defence spending and end conscription to an army that has carried out a coup at an average of once every seven years since the 1932 establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

“The party is against the military… I support their vision and I absolutely support Mr Thanathorn,” 35 year old Punjarat Wattawongvibul old AFP outside the court.

A ruling is expected to be announced on November 20.

The highly interventionist court disbanded a different anti-military opposition party linked to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra right before the March elections. Thanathorn has also been singled out by the kingdom’s powerful army chief.

The Thai Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong last week delivered a thinly-veiled warning of the spectre of a communist rebellion in a speech flecked with barely-concealed references to Thanathorn and his party.

Future Forward have been a rare voice of criticism against Thailand’s royalist establishment.

The monarchy remains at the apex of Thailand as the Head of State.

Yesterday 70 Future Forward MPs voted against a royal decree transferring two key army units to the direct control of the Thai King, an unprecedented political objection to a royal command.

The decree still passed parliament with an overwhelming majority.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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70 Future Forward Party MPs vote against ’emergency decree’

The Thaiger

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70 Future Forward Party MPs vote against ’emergency decree’ | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says the MPs voting against the decree was ‘nothing unusual’ – matichon.co.th

70 members of the Future Forward Party have voted against an ’emergency decree’ stating that personnel and operating funds for the Army’s Infantry Division will be put directly under His Majesty the King’s command to provide better security to the Royal Family, Royal residences and the monarch’s VIP guests.

But three Future Forward MPs, namely Ms. Kawinnart Takee of Chon Buri, Mr. Charoek Sri-on of Chanthaburi and Pol Lt-Col Thanapat Kittiwongsa of Chanthaburi, voted in support of the executive decree in defiance against the party’s stand.

The Parliament’s Lower House passed the decree by 374-70 votes.

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said that MPs voting against the emergency decree on the King’s bodyguard units was not unusual. He said the decree had nothing to do with the Royal Family. He went further suggesting that, since the government had proposed this emergency decree, Future Forward’s secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul was correct in suggesting that the government resign or dissolve Parliament if the emergency decree fails to make it through Parliament.

Piyabutr had previously stated that the emergency decree might be in violation of the Constitution and that it was the Army’s job to protect the Royal Family.

Meanwhile, Wattana Muangsook, a core member of the Pheu Thai party, said he supported the party’s MPs voting for the Government’s decree, adding that, whether the transfer of troops and funding was done by means of an executive decree because the issue is urgent, or by means of a bill, did not matter because the issue is not about democracy. He believed the transfer will shorten the chain of command and will improve the efficiency of the Royal Security Command.

Under the decree, some troops of the 1st Infantry Regiment of the Ratcha Wallop Royal Guards and the 11th Infantry Regiment of the Ratcha Wallop Roya Guards are to be transferred to the Royal Security Command.

SOURCE: The Nation | Thai PBS World

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