By THE NATION
FUTURE FORWARD is staring at the possibility of its strength in Parliament further eroding as 11 of its MPs-to-be are targets for disqualification after social activist Srisuwan Janya said he planned to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission (EC) today over their alleged shareholdings in media companies.
Srisuwan said yesterday he had been tipped off by many people about their shareholdings in media companies, which is prohibited for MP candidates. He said he found that at least 11 MP candidates from Future Forward may have breached the law.
If found guilty, they face one to 10 years in jail and a fine of between Bt20,000 to Bt200,000. Their suffrage rights would also be revoked for 20 years.
In response to criticism that he was targeting only anti-junta politicians for disqualification, the social activist said he was gathering information about pro-junta politicians too for violating the same law. He would be lodging complaints soon, he added.
Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has already been hit with the same allegation. He is scheduled to meet the poll agency tomorrow to clarify the matter.
Thanathorn, however, said yesterday he was ready to provide any information to the EC. All the current allegations about his shareholdings in a media company were based on media speculation and lacked any evidence, he added.
The politician insisted he had transferred his shares to his mother on January 8, well before the EC allowed MP candidates to register the following month.
Reacting to news that he was not in Bangkok on that day for the transaction, Thanathorn challenged Srisuwan or anyone else to seek information about his whereabouts from his cellphone network provider and put them out before the public.
EC accused of double standards
While Thanathorn claimed he had travelled by car from Buri Ram to the capital to complete the business transaction on that day, his opponents and media questioned if it were possible to drive a distance of 400 kilometres within a few hours.
In a related development, another anti-junta politician Ruangkrai Leekitwattana would today petition the Ombudsman to investigate if the EC was discriminating against Thanathorn.
Previously, the agency had turned down a complaint against junta chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha owning online media channels such as Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts, which could be monetised, he said. This suggested that the EC had double standards in how it treated Prayut and Thanathorn, he said.
Though Future Forward Party MP candidates were being targeted for disqualification, the party might also gain another MP winner after recounting yesterday in one constituency in Nakhon Pathom province.
The candidate, Savika Limmasuwanna, was expected to win after the recount. She was trailing by some 140 votes behind the Democrat Party winner when the miscounting was reported.
As of press time, the final result remained unknown with 29 polling units yet to begin counting. The constituency has more than 240 units with 60 sets of referees counting the ballots. The recounting was observed by the people as well as party representatives, including Thanathorn.
In Chumphon province, an election rerun was held yesterday. The result remained unknown as of press time.
Another election rerun is due to be held in Chiang Mai province next month after a candidate from Pheu Thai Party was disqualified for allegedly giving a cash gift to a temple.
With the post-election politics engulfed in lawsuits, constitutional complications and a power struggle between the pro- and anti-junta groups, a survey released yesterday showed nearly half of the people (47.33 per cent) believed politics now to be as confusing as before the election.
The poll, conducted by Suan Dusit Poll based on responses from 1,107 people in the past week, also showed one-third of the people viewed the post-election politics as confusing. Around 40 per cent said they looked forward to a new government taking office and a new prime minister while 32.03 and 25.96 per cent respectively said they cared for the handling of economic issues and improvement of quality of life.