Skip to main content

Following the decision of the Election Commission of Thailand to petition the Constitutional Court seeking the dissolution of the Move Forward Party (MFP) for campaigning to amend the royal defamation law, Move Forward Party leader Chaithawat Tulathon warned that claiming treason as a reason to disband the Party would bring the monarchy into the political conflict.

Chaithawat Tualthon (front left) during the press conference.

At a press conference on Wednesday (13 March), where opposition representatives announced that they are calling for a censure debate, Chaithawat answered a reporter’s question saying that the Party is preparing to defend itself in court, noting that a court would normally allow a defendant to defend themselves and present evidence and expert witnesses. He admitted that the Constitutional Court’s ruling might make it difficult for the Party, but said that they will be trying their best to argue that there is not enough reason to disband the Party.

Although he noted that the Constitutional Court may not call a hearing if it believes it has enough information, he said it is the job of a defendant to fight their hardest for there to be a hearing.

When asked if the Party is considering having their executives resign before a verdict is reached, Chaithawat said they have not discussed the option.

The most important lesson for the society and those in power, he said, is that disbanding a political party will not solve political problems. Instead, it would lead to more conflict, which would go against the wishes of the public following the election of a civilian government.

Chaithawat warned that claiming treason and destruction of the monarchy as a reason to disband a political party may instead be damaging to the monarchy, as it would bring the monarchy into the political conflict.

“I am concerned about the Thai society. Imagine Thai society after this. We are entering the same cycle that we can’t find a way out of and we may get even deeper in. Disbanding a political party over an accusation of treason and destruction of the monarchy is in no way beneficial to the monarchy,” he said.

Chaithawat believes the problem is not specific to MFP but is part of the old political system which should be long gone. He said that it is time that Thai society learned that trying to win on the political stage by disbanding a party will not make anything better but will make it worse.

The Constitutional Court ruled on 31 January that the Party and its former leader Pita Limjaroenrat had abused their constitutional rights and liberties to overthrow the democratic regime with the King as the Head of State by campaigning to amend the royal defamation law after conservative lawyer Theerayut Suwankesorn filed a petition with the Court to rule on this matter.

The Court also ruled that proposing amendments to the royal defamation law and publishing content on the Party’s website similar to a draft amendment which the Party proposed in the last parliament term indicates that the Party not only planned to reduce protection for the monarchy but sought to hide its intention through the use of legislative processes. Asserting that the royal family is above politics and politically neutral, the Court declared that proposing to amend the royal defamation law as part of an election campaign amounted to ‘lowering’ the institution and allowing it to be exploited for the Party's own benefit during the election. It also found that this put the monarchy in direct conflict with the people and was politically divisive.

The Court ordered the MFP and Pita to end all actions and forms of expression related to repeal of the royal defamation law. It also prohibited any future amendment to the royal defamation law through any means “that are not the lawful legislative process.”

Prachatai English's Logo

Prachatai English is an independent, non-profit news outlet committed to covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite pressure from the authorities. Your support will ensure that we stay a professional media source and be able to meet the challenges and deliver in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”