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Future Forward Party Leaders to Be Charged Over Bangkok Rally

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Bangkok Police have issued summonses for Future Forward Party (FFP) members on charges relating to protests in Bangkok on Dec 14. FFP leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, and party member Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn, have been summoned to report to police.

Other rally organizers FFP secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul; spokeswoman Pannika Wanich and party-list MP Pita Limjaroenrat; — are protected by parliamentary immunity. Due to their status as MPs, as parliament is still in session.

Police would be required to obtain the parliament president’s permission to summon them to hear the charges. A source told The Bangkok Post the national police chief plans to take that step soon.

According to police, the rally organizers broke the public assembly law. They allegedly failed to inform police of their plans in advance. Protestor leaders blocked a railway station; failed to control rally participants; and used loudhailers in public without permission from police.

Rally Over Disbanding of  Future Forward Party (FFP)

The rally was called by Mr Thanathorn after the Election Commission (EC) ask the Constitutional Court to disband the FFP. The party allegedly accepted a 191-million-baht loan from Thanathorn to finance its election campaigns. This was a violation of the organic law on political parties.

Last month, a court also disqualified Mr Thanathorn as an MP. It ruled he failed to transfer his shares in a media company when he registered his candidacy for the March election.

Meanwhile, Nida Poll, shows respondents are split over the “flash mob” organised by Mr Thanathorn. With the number of supporters slightly higher than opponents. The poll was conducted on Dec 16-17 among 1,277 people across the country.

Almost half — 48.5% — of respondents said they agreed with the rally. Of that number, about 28% said they strongly supported it. Reasoning that it was above all intended to call for justice and liberty for the people.

About 21% voiced moderate support for it, saying people have the right to demonstrate. Most noteworthy as long as it does not cause unrest.

A slightly smaller number — 43.7% — opposed the demonstration. Of that number, about 28% strongly opposed it, saying the flash mob on Dec 14 was driven by self-interest. While about 15% voiced moderate disagreement, saying they are already tired of political rallies.

Future Forward Party Officially Sacks 4 MPs

However, another survey showed a different opinion on the FFP. About 40% of respondents interviewed by researchers from Super Poll, had a negative view of the FFP’s decision to expel four MPs. Also for calling a mass rally to protest against the EC’s party dissolution petition.

Noppadon Kannika, director of Super Poll, said the poll asked 1,010 respondents from Dec 16 to 20 about their views on the FFP’s recent actions which have dominated the news in recent days.

The poll asked about the FFP’s removal of four renegade MPs — Chon Buri MP Kawinnat Takee, Chanthaburi MPs Thanaphat Kittiwongsa and Charuek Sri-on, and Chiang Mai MP Srinuan Boonlue — for voting against the party line as well as the party’s decision to call a rally to protest the EC’s petition for dissolution. Among those polled, 40.2% said the action will cause it more problems, 31.3% said they were “not wise decisions”, while 28.5% backed the move.

Super Poll also asked about the publicity stunt involving two men kissing each other in the parliament complex.Some have criticized the move, saying parliament was not the proper place for such a stunt. About 81.4% said it was inappropriate as they exercised their freedom in the wrong way.

Source: The Bangkok Post