FFP strikes back: Future Forward Party sues Chulcherm and T-News for defamation

Today (6 March), Pannika Wanich, spokesperson for the Future Forward Party (FFP), revealed that the party will file two defamation lawsuits against MC Chulcherm Yugala and T-News.

Pannika Wanich (left) arriving at the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court

Pannika told reporters at Ratchadapisek Criminal Court this morning that the Future Forward Party is taking legal action against both Chulcherm, a minor prince in the royal family and former major general in the royal guard, and the T-News media outlet for accusing the FFP and Thanathorn of intending to topple the monarchy.

Chulcherm posted on his Facebook page a claim that the FFP and Thanathorn intended to finish the mission started during the 1932 Revolution by Khana Ratsadon, which is to destroy the monarchy in Thailand. The post also prompted a response from Kasian Tejapira, lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University. Kasian posted on his Facebook page that the 1932 Revolution was never about toppling the monarchy, especially after King Prajadhipok pardoned Khana Ratsadon and after the 1932 constitution, which was a compromise between the king and Khana Ratsadon. Kasian said that “something that is not true, said either by commoners or by the elite, will never be true, no matter how many times it is said.” In a separate post, Kasian also said that Thailand would be better for this and the next generation if, in politics, we stopped accusing each other of serious charges without evidence or responsibility. Such action in the Thai context, said Kasien, is “ideological and discursive murder” which can be used to justify violence.

The FFP is also suing T-News and its network websites for accusing FFP and its leader of having policies which undermine the monarchy.

Pannika said that neither the FFP nor Thanathorn have the intention of filing a lawsuit under the Computer Crime Act, since the CCA applies only to damage to computer systems and cannot be used to control online content. The FFP and Thanathorn are therefore pressing charges for defamation under Article 328 of the Criminal Code, and for slandering candidates under the 2017 organic law on the election of MPs.

The FFP also has no intention of pressing charges against media who criticize the party or its leader, if that media is following professional ethics, because it is the media’s job to scrutinize the work of other organizations and state authorities for the benefit of the people. The FFP also has an open data policy to make sure that the party is working under the principle of transparency.

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The FFP, with its rising popularity among young voters, has been the target of several legal charges and criticism in the last 20 days in the run up to the 24 March election. A lawsuit was filed against Thanathorn and two other party members by the NCPO’s legal officer, Col Burin Thongprapai of the Judge Advocate General’s Office, for criticizing the NCPO in a live broadcast in June 2018. On Monday (4 March), the Election Commission (EC) accepted Srisuwan Janya’s petition against Thanathorn, which claimed that Thanathorn had deceived the public by publishing false information on the FFP website. Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn of the TCSD is also suing Lt Gen Pongsakorn Rodchompoo, the FFP deputy leader, for sharing fake news about Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, an action which Lt Gen Pongsakorn said was unintentional.  

On 4 March, the EC issued 12 orders to delete campaign content which violates the law and the 2017 EC regulations on prohibited forms of campaigning. Three of the 12 orders were related to online content criticizing Thanathorn and the FFP.