Thai Raksa Chart pleads for fair treatment from Election Commission as party faces dissolution threat

Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechaphol Pongpanit makes the traditional Thai gesture of respect while speaking to journalists on arrival at the party headquarters in Bangkok on Feb 12, 2019
Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechaphol Pongpanit makes the traditional Thai gesture of respect while speaking to journalists on arrival at the party headquarters in Bangkok on Feb 12, 2019PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The embattled Thai Raksa Chart Party has requested "fair treatment" from the Election Commission (EC) regarding a possible decision by the agency to seek a Constitutional Court verdict on whether the party should be disbanded.

There was speculation on Tuesday (Feb 12) that the EC would ask the court to rule on the dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart over its controversial nomination of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya as its sole prime ministerial candidate.

Thai Raksa Chart will file a protest with the EC on Wednesday, asking for its explanation to be heard, the party's chief legal adviser, Mr Pichit Chuenban, said on Tuesday.

Mr Pichit said that although the EC is empowered by law to seek Constitutional Court verdicts on alleged wrongdoings involving political parties, it could not do so without gathering sufficient evidence from the accused party. He cited the Political Parties Act and the Constitution.

"Evidence gathering should not be done in a one-sided way. The international standard must be followed to ensure fairness to all," the legal expert said.

The EC on Tuesday did not reach any conclusion on whether to approach the Constitutional Court for dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart. EC president Ittiporn Boonpracong said the agency would continue discussions on the matter on Wednesday.

On Monday, Mr Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution, submitted a petition for the EC to investigate Thai Raksa Chart's nomination of Princess Ubolratana. He asked the EC to refer the case to the Constitutional Court seeking dissolution of the party, for violating the law and regulation that prohibits political parties from using the royal family in their election campaigning.

 

The party announced last Friday that the 67-year-old Princess, who is the King's elder sister, was nominated as its PM candidate. That night, King Maha Vajiralongkorn said in a statement broadcast nationwide that Princess Ubolratana's candidacy for prime minister was "extremely inappropriate and unconstitutional".

On Monday, the EC disqualified Princess Ubolratana from running for prime minister, because "every member of the Royal Family comes within the application of the same rule requiring the monarchy to be above politics and to be politically neutral".