Pheu Thai concerned over growing rift in Thai society after court verdict

The Pheu Thai Party said that they are concerned about future conflict after a court ruling against dissidents this week, the party’s senior members told Thai Enquirer on Friday.

Thailand’s constitutional court ruled against several dissidents for calling for reform of the countries ancient institutions.

The court said that by calling for reform of the Royal institution, the dissidents were asking for a change in the system of government and getting rid of the country’s constitutional monarchy.

“What we are concerned about is the students will not accept the verdict and this will be problematic for the future…and what we want is for everyone to help find a way out for the country and build a safe space like what the Pheu Thai Party is doing with our petition,” said Pheu Thai’s new leader.

Pheu Thai on Wednesday proposed an urgent petition for parliament to set up a committee designed to investigate the government’s “excessive” enforcement of laws against political prisoners. The party says that the government’s actions were against the rule of law.

At least 155 activists, protesters and their leaders have been charged with lese-majeste due to exercising their political right and freedom of expression since November 2020, according to the Thai Lawyer for Human Rights.

Many pro-democracy protest leaders, such as Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, are being charged with multiple sedition and lese-majeste charges and they are being jailed while their bail requests have been repeatedly denied.

23 student bodies from universities all around the country have released a statement on Thursday to show their disagreements with the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

They said the ruling was “unjust.”

Other concerns

Pichai Naripthaphan, the deputy leader of the Pheu Thai Party, told Thai Enquirer that he does not believe that the Constitutional Court’s ruling could be used against his party but there has been continuous attempts to dissolve the party.

Pichai said Palang Pracharath Party member Ruangkrai Leekitwattana’s petition for the Election Commission to investigate the appointment of Dr Surapong Suebwonglee who is not a member of the party to be the party director has no ground because the position is a made up position that has nothing to do with the management of the party.

“Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said it himself that the director position is not a political position which means the appointment does not breach the political parties law,” he said.

He said activist Srisuwan Janya’s complaint that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is still in control of the Pheu Thai Party also has no ground.

Thaksin’s video call to talk with various senior members of the Pheu Thai Party during a birthday party of one of its MPs in October was evidence that the former premier is still wielding a lot of influence within the party.

“It was a birthday party that was arranged outside the party where non-members were also there and it was just a happy birthday wishing speech and a conversation between people who know each other at a party,” Pichai said.

Srisuwan said one of Pheu Thai’s MPs asked for permission from Thaksin to allow his ex-wife, Potjaman Damapong, to become the next leader of the party, ahead of the next election.

Pichai said Potjaman did not agree to the proposal and that there is nothing wrong for the MP to make a suggestion since Potjaman is eligible and she had declined it.

As for the petition made by Sonthiya Sawasdee, an adviser to a parliament committee on law, justice and human rights, who asked the Election Commission to investigate the Pheu Thai Party’s appointment of Thaksin’s daughter as its adviser, Pichai said there is also no ground here as well.

He said Paetongtarn “Ing” Shinawatra, Thaksin’s youngest daughter, has a right to become a member of the party and she is eligible for the position.

According to the political parties law, a political party cannot allow an outsider to dominate its affairs. If the EC finds that any of these accusations has merit, they will take the case to the Constitutional Court and if found guilty, the party could be dissolved.

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