End legal action against anti-junta MP, Asean parliamentarians urge Thailand

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

BANGKOK • Politicians from Asean yesterday urged the Thai authorities to end their legal action against a prominent anti-junta Member of Parliament amid the country's scramble to form a new government.

Mr Thanathorn Juangroong-ruangkit, 40, the leader of the progressive Future Forward Party, which won 80 seats in the 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.

Last 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 said in a statement.

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

 

Junta leader and Prime Minister 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 premier later this week.

DPA

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline 'End legal action against anti-junta MP, Asean parliamentarians urge Thailand'. Print Edition | Subscribe