Junta efforts to be rid of Future Forward have centered on Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul. The junta’s efforts have been cheered by anti-democrats who have decided and/or been convinced that Future Forward is, variously, far too progressive, republican and/or Thaksinite.
Thanathorn has faced several accusations, some being investigated by the Election Commission and some by the police.
One of them, that he breached election law by holding media company shares when he registered to run in the “election.” Article 98 of the election law bans a candidate from holding shares in a media company after registering in the election.
Today, the EC decided to investigate this, meaning it believes that Thanathorn has a case to answer.
Thanathorn denies and wrongdoing and “insisted he and his wife had transferred their shares [in V-Luck Media] to his mother on Jan 8 this year before he applied to stand in the March 24 general election.”
[Update 2: Note that the Bangkok Post gives the date as 8 March. It also states that V-Luck Media was the publisher of the now-defunct WHO! people and lifestyle magazine. A look at its Facebook page shows no posts from the magazine since early 2017.]
While Thanathorn is reported to have already submitted documents to the EC on this accusation, he will now be directed to “defend himself on the alleged breach of the law within seven days.”
If anyone is wondering about how highly-charged this action is, it is revealing that the “chair of the commission’s subcommittee tasked with reviewing the issue, Pol. Lt. Gen. Yutthana Thaipakdee, resigned, claiming the subcommittee is coming under pressure to rule in a certain direction.”
If Thanathorn is disqualified, then the junta’s judiciary might consider it has a case for dissolving Future Forward.
Update 1: The Nation has more detail on the EC’s decision. It reports that the EC “unanimously resolved to press a charge against … Thanathorn … over alleged violation of media shareholding rules.” The report continues:
Citing investigations by two EC panels, Sawang Boonmee, the EC deputy secretary-general, told a press conference that Thanathorn had allegedly violated the law by owning or holding 675,000 shares in V-Luck Media Company while registering as a candidate for the general election.
“Thanathorn’s share certificate number is from 1350001 to 2025000,” said Sawang, referring to the findings of two panels the EC had set up to investigate the case….
An EC source said the agency had yet to suspend Thanathorn’s right to contest in elections for one year or give him an “orange” card, as it was just an initial charge. Thanathorn will have seven days to give testimony or submit documents in his defence to the EC, Sawang said, adding his lawyers would also be allowed to witness the trial.
After the testimony, the EC will finalise the case as soon as possible in order to finish it before May 9 when it will announce the election results.
The case against Thanathorn revolves around the date he transferred the shares.