NCPO to bring charges against FFP for contempt of court

On 8 March, Col Burin Thongprapai, the NCPO’s legal officer, filed a complaint with the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) against the website administrator and other relevant personnel of the Future Forward Party (FFP) for contempt of court.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul reading the FFP statement on TRC's dissolution

The FFP’s website, https://futureforwardparty.org, shared a YouTube video clip of the FFP press conference following the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party on 7 March. During the press conference, the FFP Secretary-General Piyabutr Saengkanokkul read the Party’s statement on the Constitutional Court’s ruling, saying that a political party should be dissolved only to preserve the democratic system. During the last 13 years, the law has repeatedly been used as a political tool, and two political parties with a majority in parliament have been dissolved, which did not benefit the parliamentary system. On the contrary, the dissolution of political party can make the public doubt the Court and other independent organizations’ use of their authority.

The statement said that dissolving a political party only 17 days before the election takes place will certainly affect the outcome of the upcoming election, and may cause the public to lose faith in the fairness of the election process. It also said that using the law as a political tool does nothing to decrease conflict. Instead, the check-and-balance system is brought into question, leading to severe political polarization.

The FFP then proposed that the Constitution be amended to rebalance the relations between each political institution, to make sure that the majority is respected and the minority is protected, and to create a check-and-balance system that will prevent abuse of power. The FFP also urged the public to vote on 24 March to resist the NCPO’s power succession and to create a new kind of politics in which the highest power belongs to the people.

According to Article 198 of the Criminal Code, insulting the court or the judge in a trial or adjudication of a case, or obstructing a trial or adjudication of the court can be punished with imprisonment of 1 to 7 years or a fine of 20,000 to 140,000 baht, or both.

Future Forward under fire

The FFP has recently been hit with several legal prosecutions. Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and two other party leaders were sued under Section 14 (2) of the Computer Crime Act for criticizing the NCPO in a Facebook Live broadcast. The decision whether to indict the three FFP leaders will be made on 26 March, 2 days after the election.

Lt Gen Pongsakorn Rodchompoo, the FFP Deputy Leader, is also being prosecuted by the TSCD for sharing fake news about Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, and will be meeting the TSCD on 11 March. The charge against Pongsakorn was also brought by Col Burin Thongprapai.

Two petitions have also been filed with the Election Commission (EC) calling for the dissolution of the FFP. Srisuwan Janya’s petition claims that the party deceived the public by publishing false information on the FFP website about Thanathorn, which Pannika Wanich, the FFP spokesperson, explained at a press conference was a technical mistake which was corrected within hours of their being notified. The other petition was filed against both Thanathorn and Piyabutr, claiming that they have an anti-constitutional monarchy attitude. The EC has accepted Srisuwan’s petition, but not the second.