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SUNDAY, December 10, 2023

Pita accuses rivals of reviving dead ITV just to block him

Pita accuses rivals of reviving dead ITV just to block him
TUESDAY, June 06, 2023

PM-hopeful Pita Limjaroenrat believes his political rivals are collaborating to falsely portray ITV as an active media firm just so they can block him from taking the country’s top post.

Pita, who leads the Move Forward Party which won 151 seats in the May 14 election, promised that he would not let any power or any individual disappoint the 14.4 million voters who gave him the mandate as next PM.

In a long, detailed Facebook post on Tuesday, the Move Forward PM candidate presented his defence against the allegations made by political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana.

The activist has filed a complaint with the Election Commission (EC), saying Pita was unqualified to contest in the May 14 election both as MP and PM candidate because he held shares in ITV. Ruangkrai insisted that ITV was still an active media firm based on its financial statements.

Pita had earlier declined to talk about the allegations, dismissing them as “nonsense”.

News reports on Monday claimed that Pita had offloaded the 42,000 ITV shares, though the politician declined to confirm or deny the claim.

However, in a Facebook post on Tuesday, he explained that he did not actually own the ITV shares but was holding them for other heirs of his late father. He also pointed out that ITV shares no longer had any trading value as the company was no longer active. Regardless, he said, he decided to transfer the shares to his father’s heirs.

Pita’s lengthy post, titled “I’m ready to fight against attempts to resurrect ITV to block us”, pointed out that it was common knowledge that the PM’s Secretariat Office had terminated ITV’s concession contract on March 7, 2007.

“Since then, ITV has not been able to use the UHF frequency for broadcasting or any telecommunication,” Pita wrote.

He noted in the post that the frequency was taken back and handed over to Thai PBS channel after the enactment of the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) Act in 2008.

Pita said that after ITV’s access to the UHF frequency was blocked, its share value dropped until it was worth nothing. He said he was appointed as the executor of his late father’s assets and other heirs had given him the authority to take over his father’s assets, including the ITV shares. He added that the shares became worthless after ITV was delisted from the stock market in 2014.

Also, he said, he had declared these shares to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) after he became Future Forward Party MP in 2019.

After Future Forward was dissolved in February 2020, Pita became the leader of its incarnation – Move Forward.

“For this election, I applied as a party-list MP and PM candidate of Move Forward. I led the party to contest the election and won the people’s mandate with more than 14 million votes,” Pita wrote.

“It’s clear that ITV stopped broadcasting since 2007, yet now there are attempts to resurrect it as an active media outlet and use it as a tool to attack me.”

He also noted that the 2018-2019 financial report ITV submitted to the Department of Business Development (DBD) showed ITV as a “holding business that does not invest in financial affairs”. But in its 2020-2021 report to DBD, ITV’s business type was changed to “TV media”.

The 2023 report to DBD, he said, was submitted just four days before the election showed that ITV had carried out businesses of “campaign media and investments”.

Pita alleged that the changes in ITV’s business types in recent years was a conspiracy to try and terminate him from politics. He said his political rivals have also been dredging up old legal cases and technicalities to portray that he has been holding shares in a media firm.

He said that after noticing such suspicious behaviour surrounding the ITV share issue, he consulted the other heirs and they decided to take over the shares entitled to them.

Pita said there were also moves to convince the public that the Constitutional Court would not issue a verdict like that of the Supreme Court.

He was referring to a Supreme Court ruling in the case against Democrat candidate Charnchai Isarasenarak that was similar to his.

On May 2, the Supreme Court ordered the EC to reinstate Charnchai as a qualified election candidate. The EC had disqualified Charnchai for holding 200 shares in AIS, which is considered a media firm.

However, the court ruled that the value of the shares – 39,000 baht – was too little against AIS’s total shares worth 579.97 billion baht. The court said this small holding was not enough to influence AIS into doing anything to favour his election results.

Hence, Pita said confidently, that if his case does go to the charter court, it would have to issue a similar ruling because he cannot abuse his ITV shares to influence election results.

“I hereby affirm that I’m ready to give an explanation to the EC and am not worried at all by this case. I will not be distracted from my work at all,” Pita’s post read.

“Everybody can have peace of mind and walk forward with me to change the country.”