Move Forward eyes three leaders for next incarnation

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2024

Party prepares for possible dissolution in Constitutional Court case over push to amend lese majeste law

Despite claiming a strong defence in its dissolution case, the Move Forward Party is eying three candidates – two MPs and an academic – to lead a new party if it is dissolved by the Constitutional Court.

According to party sources, Move Forward’s core members are now pondering who should lead the party’s next incarnation if it is dissolved following a complaint by the Election Commission (EC) that it sought to topple constitutional monarchy.

The three candidates are two party-list MPs – Sirikanya Tansakun and Chaiwat Sathawornwichit – and a lecturer from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Japan, Veerayooth Kanchoochat.

Move Forward is fighting for its survival after the EC accused it of violating the political party act with its push to amend Article 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.

The EC based its complaint on the Constitutional Court’s earlier ruling that election campaigns in which the party and its former leader Pita Limjaroenrat pledged to amend Article 112 amounted to attempts to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

The Constitutional Court accepted the EC’s complaint and scheduled the first hearing for this Wednesday (June 12).

Even Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Move Forward’s patriarch, appears to have seen the writing on the wall and has advised its MPs to prepare to join a new party. Thanathorn told a party meeting in late March that the invitation was inevitable, according to party sources.

If Move Forward is dissolved, its leader and executives would be banned from politics. Current leader Chaithawat Tulathon appeared resigned to his fate recently when he said he would step back to work behind the scenes.

Sirikanya, a former research fellow at the Thailand Development Research Institute, is seen as a strong candidate for leadership of a new party.

An economics guru who enjoys strong support within Move Forward, Sirikanya has worked for the party since its first incarnation as Future Forward under Thanathorn’s leadership. Future Forward was dissolved in 2020.

Sirikanya is a deputy party leader and she is regarded as the party’s economics chief. Although she is now on the Move Forward executive board, she still has a chance to lead the next party because the EC filed the complaint against the board that was led by Pita.

Veerayooth however is seen as favourite for the post thanks to his close friendship with Thanathorn, with whom he has drafted party policy since Future Forward days.

Veerayooth is credited with formulating the platform that delivered Future Forward’s stunning debut performance at the 2019 election, when it came third with 81 House seats.

Thanathorn had planned to hand him a Cabinet seat but the party was excluded from the coalition government.

Chaiwat, who became an MP for the first time in last year’s election, is a leading economics expert in the party.

His high place on Move Forward’s party list showed he was considered a core member of the party.

Chaiwat is a former director of corporate strategies at the Bank of Thailand.