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Thanathorn calls on Thais to demand Constitutional amendment

Jack Burton

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Thanathorn calls on Thais to demand Constitutional amendment | The Thaiger
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Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is calling a Constitutional amendment “necessary,” and encourages supporters to “take a strong stance against dictatorship.”

The former MP also says it’s time for people to take a clear stance on the issue.

“The country is at a crossroads and it must decide whether to rewrite the current Constitution in blood, or if it should be amended with everybody’s consent, Thanathorn told a forum at Thammasat University on Saturday.

At the forum, the FFP allied with six other opposition parties to push for an amendment to the current Constitution, which they call authoritarian and “a product of dictatorship.”

Thanathorn says the amendment is “not an exception but the rule. It is the only way society can survive,” according to the Bangkok Post.

“This is not the time to be shy or coy about it.”

In the past, several parties have nominated MPs to sit on the House of Representatives’ special committee to study a charter amendment. But Thanathorn says an amendment is urgently needed to resolve social and political conflicts and bring a fair distribution of power.

“The leaders of the 2014 coup that unseated elected prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra have kept the power to themselves… which has set the country back by decades. He insists the fight will not end until democracy is fully restored.”

Thanathorn believes the relative calm in the country since the coup is an illusion. The reality, he says, is that the people are being oppressed by the old guard. He has said changing the constitution is not the only goal, and that the battle is against an administration that is dividing and exploiting the people.

Even the leader of the establishment Pheu Thai Party says all sectors of society must understand the need to rectify the charter. He calls on the government to fund a referendum, saying people should show their discontent by voting overwhelmingly for the amendment.

Seri Ruam Thai Party leader Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, on the other hand, believes the current Constitution should be completely abandoned and a previous charter, whichever is most acceptable to the people, should be reinstated, along with a new premier.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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.

Bangkok

Court acquits PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, allowing him to stay on at military residence

Caitlin Ashworth

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Court acquits PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, allowing him to stay on at military residence | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha will be staying in office and at his military residence. Bangkok’s Constitutional Court ruled today that the prime minister and former Thai general and commander of the Thai Army has not violated the charter by occupying a military-owned residence. The court says under military regulations, former officers can remain at their Army residence after their retirement at the discretion of the Thai Army commander.

Pro-democracy protesters have been pushing on Prayut to resign since July, along with calling for a rewrite of the 2017 Constitution together with reform of the government and role of the monarchy. Recently, Prayut was accused of violating the Constitution by staying at an official Army residence, rent-free, after his ‘retirement’ as General Prayut in 2014. Some say the tenancy represents a conflict of interest and the prime minister was abusing his power. A guilty ruling would’ve potentially put an end to his premiership.

Sections 184 and 186 of the Thai Constitution forbid a government minister from “receiving any special money or benefit from a government agency, state agency or state enterprise apart from that given by the government agency, state agency or state enterprise to other persons in the ordinary course of business.”

Prayut told the court that he was staying at the residence at the First Infantry Battalion of Royal Guards because his home in Baan Phitsanulok was being renovated and that his security team suggested he live at the Army residence for safety, a source told Nation Thailand.

Similar housing has been provided to former Army chiefs who are now members of the Cabinet, Privy Council and Parliament, according to the Royal Thai Army. They add that the residence was provided to Prayut because the prime minister “deserves the honour and security it provides.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Court to deliver verdict on PM’s military residence this afternoon

Maya Taylor

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Court to deliver verdict on PM’s military residence this afternoon | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Security is expected to be extremely tight at Bangkok’s Constitutional Court today, as the ruling in the matter of the PM’s residence is delivered. Prayut Chan-o-cha is accused of violating army rules by occupying a military residence rent-free, despite having retired from the army in 2014. Critics say his tenancy represents a conflict of interest. Should the court agree with them, it will spell the end of his premiership, something pro-democracy protesters have been calling for since July.

Thai PBS World reports that the court has issued a statement to confirm that only approved parties will be allowed in the courtroom, including the PM, the complainant, and relevant lawyers and officials. The case was brought earlier this year, following a request from the leader of the Pheu Thai opposition party, Sompong Amornwiwat. The court has confirmed the verdict will be broadcast on its You Tube channel from around 3pm, meaning the public can watch it live.

Bangkok authorities are apprehensive about potential unrest should some parties disagree with the court’s findings. Piya Tavichai from the Metropolitan Police Bureau has confirmed that hundreds of police officers will be on duty, in and around the court buildings, with the front entrance already sealed off. A planned rally by the anti-government protest group, Ratsadon, has now been switched to the Lad Phrao Intersection, in the Chatuchak district of the capital.

We’ll all know the decision around 3pm this afternoon.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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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
FILE PHOTO

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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