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Thanathorn says “a storm might be coming”

Jack Burton



PHOTO: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the Future Forward Party, at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok – Khaosod English

Thailand might again see street protests again, according to Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the Future Forward Party and former MP. Thanathorn forecast the tipping point could come if the Future Forward party is dissolved next month.

He was speaking yesterday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok. Future Forward and its members face more than two dozen lawsuits from police, the attorney general, the Constitutional Court and the Election Commission, as he read out the list of litigation against him and the progressive part, as reports by the Bangkok Post.

“The establishment are pushing people out. They seem certain they can contain it and control it. But many think otherwise. I think this is a very dangerous gamble.”

Thanathorn, a critic of the establishment, opposes military influence in a country with a long history of coups. He was removed from parliament in November for allegedly violating media shareholding rules. He says the accusations are politically motivated.

“They consistently use fake news and misinformation to discredit opposition. They brand us as traitors, as anti-monarchy, creating hatred that divides the people of this country,” Thanathorn told reporters, in his strongest comments since his removal.

Thanathorn says he has no control over the timing of protests, that “the anger of the people is real” and that the anti-government Run Against Dictatorship, or Wing Lai Loong (“Run to oust the Uncle”), scheduled for January next year, will be a test of sentiment toward the ruling coalition.

After the speech, a member of the Committee to Return Happiness to the People said many politicians were hypocrites and troublemakers.

“Come in and solve problems, don’t make more problems.”

A spokesman for Palang Pracharat, the ruling coalition’s biggest party, said he disagreed with Thanathorn’s comments.

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said, “He should respect the justice system. Nobody knows how these legal cases will play out. The majority don’t want to see street protests again. They don’t want to see chaos and disruption.”

Thailand held a disputed general election on March 23 after almost five years of military rule, and a pro-military coalition took office in July with a very narrow majority, installing former junta chief Prayut Chan-o-cha as PM, also a very close vote against Thanathorn for the top job .

The opposition FFP emerged as the third largest party, and became part of an alliance that today controls nearly half the lower house of parliament.

A deeply divided parliament and the government’s slim majority have shone a spotlight on political risk, in a Thailand where the economy is struggling. Observers are split on whether the ruling coalition can survive future tests, especially after the government’s shock defeat in a recent ruling over the controversial Section 44 of the 2017 Constitution.

Thanathorn says he doesn’t support violence, but that tension is rising and “a storm might be coming”.

“I see my role as a chain breaker. To break the chain that’s preventing us from advancing further.”

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.

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