By KAS CHANWANPEN
Thai Raksa Chart leader Preechaphol Pongpanit yesterday vowed to fight the dissolution threat as party lawyers asked the Court to hear their defence.
THE Embattled Thai Raksa Chart Party continued to fight threats of dissolution yesterday, calling on the Constitutional Court to reconsider the charges pressed against it by the Election Commission (EC).
Party leader Preechaphol Pongpanit said yesterday they were perplexed about what charges they would face, and they will seek clarity from the court so that it can prepare its case. The Constitutional Court is scheduled to meet today to decide whether to accept the EC petition to dissolve the party for alleged “hostility” towards the constitutional monarchy system.
The court scheduled the hearing after the EC filed a case against Thai Raksa Chart for allegedly breaching the Political Party Law last week by nominating Princess Ubolratana as its prime-ministerial candidate. The law prohibits any actions that violate democratic rule under constitutional monarchy, with the threat of party dissolution.
The executives of a party that is disbanded will be banned from politics for 10 years.
The commissioners had unanimously agreed on Tuesday to take legal action against the party, said the agency’s secretary-general, Jarungvith Phumma, who represented the EC in filing its petition with the Constitutional Court.
With the possibility of legal action looming since the last weekend, Thai Raksa Chart had submitted a letter to the EC, asking it to clarify the matter before deciding on whether to take the case to the court.
Representing the party, lawyer Surachai Chinchai said the agency should at least first conduct an initial investigation including hearing testimony from the party.
Separately, the lawyer also submitted another plea to the Constitutional Court, asking for a copy of the petition so that the party could prepare its defence.
The party also pleaded against the EC’s petition, claiming the agency’s procedure was unlawful as it had not conducted any investigation before approaching the court.
The head of the party’s legal department, Pichit Chuenban, reiterated that the party was offended that it had not even been given a fair chance to acknowledge the charge by the EC.
Pichit implied that the expedited procedure could have been politically motivated.
“Everything happened so fast. And [this Friday,] the EC will already announce the list of qualified MP candidates,” the lawyer said at a press conference held at the party’s office. “I can see that the EC is up to something.”
Election Commission SecretaryGeneral Jarungwit Phumma arrives at the Constitutional Court yesterday to deliver documents supporting thepush to disband the Thai Raksa Chart Party for allegedly acting againstconstitutional monarchy.
Under the law, if a court ruling is unfavourable to a party and the party is dissolved before the election is held, none of the party’s candidates will be allowed to run in the election.
On the other hand, if the verdict on disbanding a party is issued after the election, the party’s winning candidates would have 30 days to find a new party.
The Shinawatra-backed party found itself in trouble last Friday after a Royal Command from HM the King disapproved its nomination of Princess Ubolratana as prime ministerial candidate.
Though Ubolratana gave up her royal title nearly five decades ago when she married a foreigner, the Royal Command said Ubolratana, the eldest sister of the King and the eldest daughter of the late King Rama IX, remains a member of the Royal Family and is respected by both royals and Thai people.
The princess should stay above politics, the Royal Command read.
With the situation evolving against Thai Raksa Chart, Princess Ubolratana late on Tuesday night posted on her personal Instagram account @nichax a photo of a Bangkok canal. The captions read that the princess was sad that her sincere intention to help the Thai people had resulted in trouble that should not have happened in this era.
The photo also goes with the hashtag #howcomeitsthewayitis.
Legislators yesterday commented that Thai Raksa Chart should have considered the status of the princess in Thai society, though she had relinquished her title.
Constitutional writer Udom Rathamarit said that Thai Raksa Chart may have followed the procedure when it named the princess as its prime ministerial candidate, but it should also have thought about the traditions and social relations in Thai society.
“They have to take responsibility. Political parties have to work maturely, not childishly,” he said.
Chief writer of the political party law Somjate Boonthanom said yesterday: “Using common sense, [the princess] could be considered a commoner. But the way the people treat her clearly shows she is not. I don’t know if Thai Raksa Chart had considered this fact before inviting her to be the PM candidate.”p