Thais launch campaign to prevent dissolution of party

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Thai politics has been heating up as the charter court will decide the fate of FWP on Friday over its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit lending the party 191 million baht ($6 million). THE NATION

Prominent Thai figures and celebrities have joined a campaign against the dissolution of the Future Forward Party (FWP) ahead of the Constitutional Court verdict on Friday.

Thai politics has been heating up as the charter court will decide the fate of FWP on Friday over its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit lending the party 191 million baht ($6 million).

Both camps – supporters and rivals of FWP – have launched political campaigns on the www.change.org platform.

Charnvit Kasetsiri, an FWP member and former rector of Thammasat University, has launched a campaign against dissolution of the party.

Among prominent academics joining the campaign are Seksan Prasertkul, Sulak Sivaraksa, Nidhi Eawsriwong and Gothom Arya.

Seksan was a student leader during the October 14, 1973 uprising against the then-military government while Sulak is an outspoken social critic.

Nidhi Eawsriwong is a well-known history professor and columnist while Gothom Arya is adviser to Mahidol University’s Institute for Human Rights and Peace.

Also joining the campaign are celebrities from the entertainment industry such as TV show host Kachapa “Moddum” Tanchareon and business leaders Banyong Pongpanich and Prida Tiasuwan.

The Constitutional Court dissolved the Thai Raksa Chart Party before the March general election over the party naming a member of the Royal Family as its prime minister candidate.

The court has in the past dissolved Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai and its successor People’s Power Party.

Gothom told The Nation on Sunday that there were two reasons behind his signing up for the campaign – first, dissolving a political party is against advancing the cause of democracy, and secondly, law enforcement authorities have applied double standards.

“As I understand, countries rarely dissolve any political party since it is a very important issue. Political parties are essential institutions for the development of democracy,” he said.

“In Thailand, we have witnessed many political parties being dissolved and such actions have derailed democracy,” he stated.

In this specific case, the FWP has been targeted by the Election Commission and others for many legal reasons, but other parties are spared even though they may be involved in many controversial actions, Gotom lamented.

“I think law enforcement authorities have applied discriminatory practices against the FWP,” he said.

Asked about the risk of landing in trouble for joining the campaign if the judges rule such a campaign is contempt of court, Gothom admitted that he was not keen on this legal aspect.

More than 31,000 people had signed up at 7:10pm (1210 GMT) on Sunday while there is also a campaign to dissolve the FWP for which 2,355 people have already signed up.

Many political observers believe that dissolving the FWP will lead to large-scale street protests.

The party has strongly supported the young generation and liberal voters, which earned the party 80 Member of Parliament seats in the House of Representatives after the March general election, making it the third-biggest party in terms of seats in the house.

Some have suggested that the court should defer the verdict reading as it is set for just few days before the no-confidence debate in Parliament will take place.

They have argued that the timing of the verdict would affect the Parliament debate while others argue people should not put pressure on the court.

THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK