Asean members urge Thailand to end legal action against anti-junta MP

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is facing at least two criminal cases in relation to his anti-military stance. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK (DPA) - Politicians from Asean on Monday (May 27) urged the Thai authorities to end their legal action against a prominent anti-junta member of parliament amid Thailand's scramble to form a new government.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, 40, the leader of the progressive Future Forward Party, which won 80 seats in March general elections, is facing at least two criminal cases in relation to his anti-military stance.

The charges, which he says are politically motivated, include sedition for his alleged involvement in anti-junta protests in 2015, and cyber-crime for criticising the regime on Facebook last year.

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court suspended his parliamentary status while deciding whether to disqualify him as a lawmaker over his holding of shares in a media company.

"It is difficult not to see the Constitutional Court's move as another attempt to silence a voice critical of the junta," said Mr Teddy Baguilat, a Philippine board member of the association's Parliamentarians for Human Rights.

"(The) authorities must show that they respect the outcome of the recent vote. This means allowing those elected to take part in public life, no matter how "inconvenient" their opinions are," Mr Baguilat's statement read.

Thailand's parliament convened for the first time on Saturday, two months after the country's first election since the 2014 coup.

Junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha is widely expected to remain in power, thanks to his rubber-stamp Senate, which will vote alongside the elected lower house for the prime minister later this week.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.