Parliament suspends Thai MP Thanathorn

BANGKOK • The newly formed Thai Parliament suspended a pro-democracy lawmaker in its first official session yesterday.

Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the anti-junta Future Forward Party, was suspended minutes after he was sworn in.

The former auto-parts tycoon was accused of violating election law over his holding of shares in a media company, among other cases against him and his party.

He has also been charged with sedition for allegedly aiding anti-junta protesters in 2015, and computer crime for criticising the regime on Facebook last year.

Mr Thanathorn has said the charges are politically motivated, adding that this year's election was neither free nor fair.

His legislator status was suspended by the Constitutional Court on Thursday, with the court saying it will hear a complaint filed by the Election Commission that he breached election rules by owning shares in a media company after he applied to run in the March 24 polls.

Since coming to power in a 2014 coup, the military has charged many dissidents with sedition and computer crime under harsh laws, and has put many civilians in military detention.

 
 

Parliament convened yesterday to elect a Speaker and president, but the session was marred by constant interruption from the pro-junta Palang Pracharath party which disrupted the televised proceedings.

Among the reasons cited by the party in demanding that the election be postponed was that new MPs, not used to the electoral system, needed more time to familiarise themselves with parliamentary protocol.

On Friday, King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida presided over the opening ceremony for the new Parliament. He urged the lawmakers to work with prudence and honesty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 26, 2019, with the headline 'Parliament suspends Thai MP Thanathorn'. Print Edition | Subscribe