‘Clean water, not submarines’: Thanathorn hits Move Forward campaign trail
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit hit the campaign trail for Move Forward on Wednesday, saying the party would eliminate social inequality that lies at the heart of Thailand’s problems.
Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn was speaking to a crowd in the Northeast province of Udon Thani, in his role as a Move Forward campaign supporter.
Move Forward faces fierce election battles in the Northeast, the stronghold of fellow opposition party Pheu Thai and its presumed prime minister candidate Paetongtarn Shinawatra who are riding high in the polls.
Thanathorn said he has witnessed many problems over the past three years since his Future Forward Party, Move Forward’s predecessor, was dissolved.
"For instance, the majority of people in Thailand are still unable to access clean water 24/7," he said. These people have to purify their water or buy water tanks, he added.
"All Thais, regardless of where they were born, should have equal access to public services such as water, hospitals, schools and roads."
He said this social inequality in Thailand was due to unfair allocation of government budget. Public money was spent to purchase a submarine instead of giving people access to clean water, he added.
Thanathorn said that if elected, Move Forward would also fight business monopolies to improve people's quality of life.
He cited the party's so-called progressive liquor bill, saying it would break the monopoly that two or three giant producers had enjoyed for more than 40 years.
"We believe that an open economy will enable all people to earn a living," he said.
The party will also shift the country back to democratic principles that have been undermined by the domination of rich and influential people, he added.
"We have never solved structural problems that enable just a few people in Thailand to gain most of the benefits from the country’s development," he complained.
He alleged that Future Forward had been dissolved to prevent the party from dismantling this unfair structure.
He promised that Thailand would not remain the same if Move Forward wins the election, tentatively scheduled for May 7.
Future Forward was dissolved by a February 2020 Constitutional Court ruling that a 191-million-baht donation received from its leader, Thanathorn, was illegal. Thanathorn and other party executives were also banned from running for office for 10 years.
Critics in Thailand and overseas said the dissolution and bans – which came after the new party won 6.2 million votes in the 2019 election – showed the military's continued interference in Thai politics.