Thai progressive party leader faces disqualification as MP

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has been charged with sedition for allegedly aiding anti-junta protesters in 2015 and computer crime for criticising the regime on Facebook in 2018.
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has been charged with sedition for allegedly aiding anti-junta protesters in 2015 and computer crime for criticising the regime on Facebook in 2018.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

BANGKOK (DPA) - The leader of Thailand's progressive anti-junta Future Forward Party is facing disqualification as an elected Member of Parliament, as the election body submitted his case to the Constitutional Court on Thursday (May 16).

Rising political star Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, 40, was accused of violating the election law over his holding of shares in a media company, among many other cases against him and his party.

The former auto-parts tycoon, once hailed as Thailand's Emmanuel Macron, has been charged with sedition for allegedly aiding anti-junta protesters in 2015 and computer crime for criticising the regime on Facebook last year.

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.

The regime postponed the election date at least five times before settling for March 24, which will only lead to a semi-democratic rule thanks to the rubber-stamp Senate, which is expected to vote for junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha to remain in power as prime minister.

Speaking at a forum at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand on Wednesday, Thanathorn said the charges are politically motivated, and that the election was neither free nor fair.

He also said he will not give up on forming a new government, expected to take shape next month, and will only work in the non-profit industry should his political career come to an end.

 

"If we are afraid, we wouldn't be here today. We concern ourselves with what we can control," said the lawmaker, whose party gained 80 seats in the Lower House.