BANGKOK, THAILAND – In a remarkable turn of events, Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of Thailand’s Move Forward Party, has successfully circumvented a potential disqualification from politics, following a decision by Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday (24 Jan).
This ruling comes in the wake of a historic electoral triumph that posed a significant challenge to the nation’s entrenched conservative powers.
Limjaroenrat, 43, faced allegations of violating election laws by retaining shares in the now-defunct media company iTV during his candidacy.
Under Thai law, parliament members are prohibited from owning or holding shares in media entities. However, in a decisive 8-1 verdict, the court sided with Limjaroenrat, emphasizing that iTV’s cessation of operations since 2007 — well before his party-list candidacy — did not constitute a constitutional breach.
This court ruling is one of two critical verdicts awaited by both Limjaroenrat and the progressive Move Forward Party, which dominated the last election. The party’s future, including potential dissolution and criminal charges against its leaders, still hangs in the balance.
Post-verdict, a relieved Limjaroenrat expressed his eagerness to resume his parliamentary duties, reflecting his unwavering commitment to public service. His supporters, rallying outside the court, celebrated the outcome as a victory for justice, with chants of “PM Pita” signaling their support for his prime ministerial aspirations.
Pita Limjaroenrat has arrived at the Constitutional Court to hear the decision in his iTV shareholding case at 2pm. He told reporters that he remains confident that he will be exonerated. He also said that, regardless of the outcome today, he will continue fighting for the… pic.twitter.com/Mj7PVJRTSo
— Thai PBS World (@ThaiPBSWorld) January 24, 2024
The controversy centred on iTV, a company inactive for nearly two decades, lacking both a media license and any operational capacity. Limjaroenrat, in a Facebook post, clarified that the shares, inherited from his late father, were economically worthless and that the company was delisted from the Thai Stock Exchange in 2014.
Suspended from his legislative duties since July amidst investigations, Limjaroenrat has remained steadfast, prepared to counter both professional and personal attacks, as he mentioned in a May interview with CNN.
The Move Forward Party, under Limjaroenrat’s leadership, garnered immense support among young Thais in the 2023 general election.
Their reformist platform, advocating structural changes, including military reform and amendments to the lese majeste laws, resonated strongly with the electorate. Despite winning the most seats and the popular vote, the party’s path to governance was obstructed, mainly due to its stance on royal reform, leading to Limjaroenrat’s resignation as party leader and the party’s transition to the opposition.
The popularity of Limjaroenrat and his party, particularly among younger demographics advocating for political and royal reform, is evident. A January poll by the National Institute of Development Administration indicated Limjaroenrat’s leading popularity among politicians.
However, the party’s fate remains uncertain, with a forthcoming Constitutional Court ruling on 31 January. This decision will address allegations of the party’s attempts to overthrow the monarchy through its campaign for amending the lese majeste law.
In light of the recent verdict, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Board Member and Philippines Member of Parliament Arlene Brosas expressed cautious optimism.
She applauded the court’s rejection of the politically charged petition while simultaneously lamenting the prevention of the Move Forward Party from forming a government.
“It is nevertheless disappointing that Pita and the Move Forward Party, which won the largest number of seats in the 2023 elections, was blocked from forming a government by unelected Senators, in what was a clear affront to democracy and the will of the Thai people.”
Brosas added, “We reiterate our call for the Thai government to conduct a full review of the current junta-drafted constitution, which has been designed to protect the military’s role in politics and governance, and make the amendments necessary to pave the way for true democracy in Thailand, one in which human rights is respected and upheld for all.”
Pritam Singh: PAP Govt adopts WP proposals in Budget 2024
Leong Mun Wai: Transforming social assistance with PSP’s empowerment approach
Singapore to amend GST Act after Govt agencies’ errors in fee charges
Leong Mun Wai advocates for public asset disclosure among key office holders
Hazel Poa: Majority relying on Govt grants for living costs signals unhealthy situation
Man set himself on fire at Israeli Embassy in Washington protesting Gaza genocide
A calculated exit? Leong’s strategic resignation unpacked
M’sian ex-lawyer speaks out for Singaporean parents over MOE’s controversial CCE lesson
S’porean streamer Kiaraakitty admits staging egg attack in Taiwan
Netizens scrutinise MOE’s approaches to address Gaza conflict in CCE lesson
Chan Chun Sing limits his Instagram comments amid MOE’s Israel-Hamas education backlash
Chan Chun Sing: MOE’s Israel-Hamas education to foster multiracial cohesion reflection
Politics4 days ago
Leong Mun Wai steps down as PSP Secretary-General over POFMA directive received
Featured2 weeks ago
PA surveys community & govt confidence amid pending general election
Singapore3 days ago
Gilbert Goh challenges MOE on Israel-Hamas classroom narrative
Comments2 weeks ago
PAP Marcus Loh accuses WP’s MP of alleged dishonesty on debate about reserves
Civil Society2 weeks ago
Singaporeans stand firm in support for Palestine amidst police scrutiny
Singapore1 week ago
Kenneth Jeyaretnam issued 6th POFMA direction over Ridout Road saga
Civil Society2 weeks ago
At least 9 individuals summoned by police over Palestine solidarity activities on 2 Feb
Community2 weeks ago
Connectivity struggles in Tengah town prompt online user discussion