3 major political parties targeted for disbandment ahead of general election
Three of Thailand’s major political parties have been accused of wrongdoings that put them at risk of being disbanded.
Complaints were filed with the Election Commission (EC) against the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, and the opposition’s two largest parties Pheu Thai and Move Forward.
However, it remains unclear whether legal action against those parties would come before the next general election tentatively scheduled for May 7.
The EC is empowered by the Political Parties Act to seek a Constitutional Court verdict for the disbandment of any political party that commits certain wrongdoings specified by the law, including acting against or aiming to abolish the democratic system with the King as head of state.
The election agency can bring its case to the court when it has “sufficient evidence to believe that” such wrongdoing was committed, according to the legislation.
Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, recently petitioned the EC against Palang Pracharath. He accused the ruling party of accepting a 3-million-baht donation from a Chinese-born naturalised businessman suspected of involvement in illegal activities, which he deemed was in violation of the Political Parties Act.
The petitioner, who is known for regularly filing complaints of political nature, said that the law prohibits political parties from accepting donations that come from illegal sources or from persons involved in the destruction of national security and the economy.
Srisuwan also filed a separate complaint against the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, accusing it of allowing outsiders to influence its internal affairs, which is prohibited by the Political Parties Act.
His complaint with the EC said that a group of Pheu Thai MPs from the Northeast had met former prime ministers Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra in Singapore in March last year. Srisuwan pointed out that the Pheu Thai MPs’ meeting with non-members was tantamount to allowing outsiders to influence the party’s internal affairs.
Separately, the conservative Thai Pakdee Party filed a complaint with the EC, accusing the opposition Move Forward Party of committing wrongdoing that warrants disbandment.
Thai Pakdee said that Move Forward, which is described by political observers as “leftist”, came up with a policy platform of seeking amendments to Article 112 of the Penal Code on lese majeste and Article 116 on sedition. The conservative party said this could be in violation of the Political Parties Act as the lese majeste clause was meant to protect His Majesty the King as the head of state.
When a political party is disbanded for violating the law, its executives may be banned from politics for up to 10 years.