Electioneering vs. the junta’s use of the state

21 02 2019

After going after the Thai Raksa Chart Party, the junta seems worried that the Future Forward Party is an electoral threat that demands junta attention, using state bodies to harass. Two cases now confront Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the party.

Police have said they are seeking the prosecution of Thanathorn andn two other Future Forward Party executives, over a speech made in June last year that he posted on Facebook, criticizing the military junta.

This legal action is against Thanathorn and two senior colleagues in the party. Police state:

“We will send both the case for prosecution and the suspects to the attorney-general,” said Pol Lt Col Krit Seneewong Na Ayutthaya, an investigator on the case from the Technology Crime Suppression Division.

Thanathorn and his colleagues “face five years in prison under the Computer Crime Act for ‘uploading false information’…”.

The party rightly points out that the information in the speech was all publicly-available information.

Thanathorn stated: “It’s obvious that as the election approaches, the case is being rushed ahead … We’re ready to face whatever challenge comes our way…”.

In another case, Thanathorn is accused of posting “false information which appeared in his profile on the party’s website – a violation which could see him banned from politics for 20 years.”

According to information on Thanathorn’s profile on the party’s website, “he served as the president of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) for two consecutive terms between 2008 and 2012.” This was incorrect. He was “president of the FTI’s Nakhon Nayok chapter between 2007 and 2011.”

The Election Commission’s deputy secretary-general Sa­waeng Boonmee is now involved. If it locates “false information … and a complaint is lodged with the EC…, the watchdog will then look into the motive for keeping the false information on the website for five months…”.

This could “be deemed as an act of fraud and could violate Section 73(5) of the law on the election of MPs,” which means ” a jail term of up to ten years and/or a fine of up to 200,000 baht, and they will have their rights to run in elections suspended for 20 years…”.

Thanathorn has been critical of military rule and this marks him as a target for the military junta. That his party is doing better than some expected seems to have caused the junta to activate its puppet agencies to limit the party’s electioneering.



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