Pita Limjaroenrat is the leader of Thailand’s Move Foward Party. As head of Thailand’s progressive party, Pita represents the hopes and dreams of Thailand’s students and youth.
Yet some Thai progressives say that Pita is the wrong man to lead the party due to his past history. Pita has been accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife, Chutima Teepanat.
Among the progressive voices that have raised the issue is Sarun Chuichai, also known as Aum Neko. Aum Neko is an exiled transgender activist and political asylum seeker who says that Pita’s past history is irreconcilable with the vision and mission of the Move Forward Party and the legacy of the Future Forward Party.
“There are two main problems regarding Pita’s leadership; first, he himself has not come out to clarify any of the accusations that are held against him, and secondly, the party MPs, party members, the opposition bloc, along with party supporters are turning a blind eye to this issue,” Aum said in an interview with Thai Enquirer.
Aum said that the fact that some party members are saying it is an internal issue is also unacceptable as a progressive party.
“As party leader, he is not only just a party leader but now also a symbol of the democracy movement in Thailand,” she said.
Both Aum and progressive Thais say that the allegations of physical abuse, along with household repression (according to Aum, Pita imposed curfews on his ex-wife) and reports that he had prevented his wife from having LGBTQ friends must be answered by him and the party.
Without clarifying these issues, it undermines the principles of democracy that also include the rights of women and the LGBTQ community, which are the principles that the MFP and the democracy movement stand for, Aum said.
“He should be transparent about this because it shows where he stands for the rights of minority groups.”
Aum points out that in a case ruling, the Thai court stated that there was evidence of violence between Pita and his wife but not to the extent of domestic abuse.
Progressive Thais including Aum and an LGBT Thammasat Student Group have also raised concerns that the Move Forward Party have not come out to question Pita and have said that is a strictly internal matter.
“I completely believe in P’Thanathorn and Ajarn Piyabutr, but then they select Pita with his history to become party leader. It makes me question whether they actually care about progressive policies or whether it is just a vehicle for them to ride their way into power,” said one member of the student group who asked for anonymity.
“I think this is something that cannot be explained or ignored away.
Aum Neko agrees.
“Principle is the most important thing in this movement and if we do not adhere to it, the movement becomes hypocritical. It shows how unprogressive, or regressive the party is by allowing the party leader to go by unquestioned.”
Response by Move Forward
Move Forward MPs have largely refused to comment on the issue.
Rangsiman Rome told Thai Enquirer that he comments with a “heavy heart” because he wants Pita to address it “directly.”
“It is like if there is any issue surrounding me, you would want to hear it from me directly. However, once Pita has made his statement, I am willing to give my comments on the issue.”
Both Pannika Wanich and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul refused to comment on this story.
Pita Limjaroenrat also refused to comment on this story.