MFP elects Chaithawat Tulathon as leader amid Pita MP status uncertainty

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

Previously the secretary general of the Move Forward Party (MFP), Chaithawat Tulathon was elected as the new leader, succeeding Pita Limjaroenrat. Pita resigned amid ongoing uncertainty regarding his Member of Parliament status. Chaithawat, however, indicated this may be a temporary measure, as he and the new executive committee members are prepared to step aside, should Pita be able to resume his MP duties.

The 45 year old, Chaithawat environmental engineering graduate from Chulalongkorn University, received overwhelming support in the vote, garnering 330 votes in favour, with a mere five votes against and three abstentions. His political background includes being one of the core founders, along with Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and others, of the Future Forward Party. This reform-minded party made a significant impact in the 2019 election before being dissolved a year later due to legal complications.

The MFP, the successor to the Future Forward Party, saw great success in the May 14 General Election under Pita’s leadership, securing the highest number of seats. Despite this, the party was prevented from forming a coalition government due to staunch opposition to its proposal to reform Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the royal defamation law. Consequently, it became the primary party in the opposition bloc.

The 43 year old Pita’s resignation in mid-September came as he was unable to assume the role of opposition leader due to his suspension. The suspension was imposed by the Constitutional Court in July, pending an investigation into potential election rule violations. The issue under scrutiny is whether Pita knowingly ran for office while potentially disqualified due to holding shares in a media company.

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In addition to the leadership change, the party also elected a new executive at the general meeting. Apichart Sirisunthon succeeds Chaithawat as secretary-general, while Pita is now the chairman of a new three-member advisory group. The group also includes Weerayuth Kanchuchat, a member of the party’s economic team, and Detcharat Sukkamnerd, director of the Think Forward Center.

Deputy MFP party leaders have been named as Phicharn Chaowapattanawong, Nattawut Buaprathum, Supisan Phakdeenarunat and Sirikanya Tansakul, with Parit Watcharasindhu, a nephew of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, being named as party spokesman.

The MFP, despite the leadership change, continues to face potential dissolution. The charter court is currently deliberating on whether the party’s stance on Section 112 is in violation of the Constitution, Bangkok Post reported.

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Atima Homtientong

Atima is a dedicated news writer living in Bangkok. With a degree from Mahidol University, she focuses on reporting key issues and happenings around the country. In her off time, Atima enjoys writing and producing music.

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