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MFP, allies to sign deal as EC probes Pita

BANGKOK: Eight prospective coalition parties will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) today (May 22), with the controversial topic of revising Section 112 of the Criminal Code, a key pledge of the Move Forward Party (MFP), not expected to be included.

By Bangkok Post

Monday 22 May 2023, 10:27AM

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat holds a press conference with the leaders of seven potential coalition partners last Thursday (May 18) as they announced their intention to form a new government and back Mr Pita as the next prime minister. Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat holds a press conference with the leaders of seven potential coalition partners last Thursday (May 18) as they announced their intention to form a new government and back Mr Pita as the next prime minister. Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut

The parties which are part of the MFP coalition will meet at the Conrad Bangkok Hotel today to sign the MoU, a source said.

The eight parties are the MFP, Pheu Thai, Prachachart, Thai Sang Thai, Seri Ruam Thai, Fair, Palang Sangkhom Mai and Pheu Thai Ruam Phalang parties, reports the Bangkok Post.

According to an MFP source, issues relating to Section 112, also known as the lese majeste law, will not be included in the MoU because the party’s coalition partners are still divided on the matter.

Therefore, the MFP wants the matter to be dealt with in parliament at a later stage, the source said.

Amending Section 112 will also be excluded from the MFP’s action plan for its first 100 days in office if the party becomes the government, the source said, adding the party does not see the law as a time-sensitive matter, as it requires careful consideration.

The MFP-led bloc has a combined 313 MPs under its wing.

All prospective coalition partners have agreed to support MFP leader Pita Limcharoenrat as the next prime minister, after the MFP clinched the most seats in the May 14 election.

The MoU will map out guidelines for collaboration among coalition partners and address national, political, economic and social crises. Details of the MoU are expected to be outlined today.

MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulanon said yesterday the MFP had met representatives of each coalition party separately to thrash out the terms of the MoU.

The MoU would contain not only the MFP’s agenda but also that of other parties, including peace-making in the southern border provinces, the MFP secretary-general said.

Several coalition partners have sounded concerns about MFP’s progressive agenda, including the Prachachart Party, which will have a hard time justifying the partnership to its supporters, who are mostly Muslims, Mr Chaithawat said.

On May 17, Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, leader of the Prachachart Party, asked about the MFP’s idea to remove barriers to competition in the alcoholic beverage market, Mr Chaithawat said.

The party told the Prachachart leader the move won’t encourage people to drink alcohol but is simply aimed at ending the monopoly in the market, he said.

In addition, the MFP wanted to legalise same-sex marriage to improve equality, a move that has rattled some of its conservative partners.

He also said the MFP-led bloc is still planning to form the next government with the support of 313 MPs under its wing.

“The number of votes should be enough. Talks with senators are underway,” Mr Chaithawat said.

Under the current constitution, senators have the power to join MPs to pick the next prime minister.

Many senators have sought the details of the MoU before the press conference today, Mr Chaithawat said.

Asked about the MoU which will be signed by prospective coalition partners, Mr Pita said everything has proceeded nicely so far.

“All is well. There should be no problem,” he said.

Prasert Chantararuangthong, Pheu Thai secretary-general, said the MFP should rethink its plan to include the proposal to amend Section 112 in the MoU.

EC looking into Pita’s shareholdings

Meanwhile, the Election Commission is expected to rule on whether Mr Pita was eligible to run in the election, due to his ownership of shares in a media company.

A rival lawmaker said the shares were not declared to the authorities before he was sworn in as an MP in the 2019 election.

A source said the commission is in the middle of examining a petition filed by Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP, who reported Mr Pita to the poll agency for failing to declare his ownership of 42,000 shares in iTV, a registered media company, to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) before he took office as an MP in 2019. The shares are valued at B5 apiece.

The petition also raised the question whether the registration of MFP’s MP candidates in all 400 constituencies could also be declared invalid if Mr Pita, who approved their registrations, is disqualified over the iTV shareholding issue.

Mr Pita previously said he does not own the shares, as he inherited them from his father. The shares were listed under his name as he was appointed the executor of his late father’s estate. He had explained the matter to the poll body before he was sworn in.

The law prohibits shareholders in media firms from becoming MPs.

Mr Ruangkrai said that even though iTV has ceased operations, it retains its function as a media company.

The EC source said the commission could not invoke the organic law on the election of MPs in Mr Pita’s case, as section 61 of the law says the EC could only remove an individual as an MP candidate before an election ends.

Now the election has concluded, the EC has no legal basis to remove a candidate or MP-elect, according to the source.

Also, section 82 of the constitution says the EC could strip anyone of their status as MP only after their case has been referred to the Constitutional Court for a ruling.

Since Mr Pita has not been officially endorsed as an MP following the latest election, the commission must wait until after it has confirmed Mr Pita before it can apply the section, the source.

Also yesterday, Mr Ruangkrai said he will submit additional documents to support his report on Wednesday, in the hope of making the allegations watertight.

He said two sets of documents will be presented to the EC - the list of iTV shareholders since 2006 and flowcharts showing iTV’s earnings from 2006 till last year. According to Mr Ruangkrai, Mr Pita had acquired the shares in question in 2008.

“With the additional evidence, the EC should be able to pick up the pace of its investigation and refer the Pita case to the court,” he said.

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Old guy | 22 May 2023 - 14:22:06

And so it starts ... Pita is still 63 votes short of becoming Prime Minister and no additional support is falling into place in spite of backing off the 112 pledge.
Now it gets exciting. 

Capricornball | 22 May 2023 - 12:43:35

Here we go...signs of the military regime's ditch effort to once again negate the will of the Thai people with the sole purpose of keeping the obsolete regime in absolute power. Pathetic sacks of dung that couldn't care less about the average Thai. I hope to see a complete drubbing of Khun Ruangkrai and his dinosaur military regime's efforts to silence progress.


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