FFP no stranger to dirty tricks itself

FFP no stranger to dirty tricks itself

Future Forward Party (FFP) secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul appears to have overstated the importance of his party.

In a Facebook post on Friday, the France-educated law professor issued a warning of the serious consequences that Thailand may face in the event the party is dissolved by the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

The first consequence is that political divide will be widened -- this time between the old and new generations, leading to clash of generations. The second consequence is that the dissolution of the FFP will dash hopes by younger Thais of changes to the country and the third is that more people may be driven to oppose the monarchy, because the higher institution has been cited as a political tool to destroy a party.

The dissolution of the FFP -- if it really happens on Tuesday as predicted by opponents of the party -- will definitely cause resentment among the party's supporters who include many young people.

That it will lead to clash of generations is pure imagination, wishful thinking by Mr Piyabutr. Likewise his grim warning that it will result in more people being pushed to oppose the monarchy.

On the contrary, it seems Mr Piyabutr himself is using the monarchy issue as a tool to spare the party from possible dissolution.

For the past several months since party leader Thanathorn Juangroongrangkit was stripped of his parliamentary status over his media share ownership, Mr Thanathorn has been busily reaching out to people in upcountry provinces, preaching the evils of the junta, the persecution and injustice rendered to himself and the party by the judiciary and the government.

It was all rhetoric without much substance of hope for the new generation, besides the proposal to axe conscription and cut defence spending.

It is only in the past few days that the party has unveiled blueprints for various policies such as ending the monopoly on liquor production, freeing farmers from debt, using technology to upgrade the livelihoods of grassroots people and so on.

While grumbling bitterly about being subject to persecution and injustice, it is ironic the party itself has done the same thing with the four "cobras", the MPs who voted in parliament against the party's direction, that were expelled from the party.

On Dec 16, the party held an extraordinary meeting to decide on the fate of the four "cobras," namely Chiang Mai MP Srinual Boonlue, Chanthaburi MP Charoek Sri-on, Chanthaburi MP Pol Lt Col Thanapat Kittiwongsa and Chon Buri MP Kawinnart Takee.

The FFP's 250 members voted to expel the four dissident MPs.

The following day, the party's executive committee and MPs met under the chairmanship of Mr Piyabutr to vote on the fate of the four dissidents one by one.

Present were 78 MPs and executive committee members, which met the need for a quorum. The meeting voted unanimously to expel the four MPs.

But the party deliberately did not report the decision to the Election Commission (EC), throwing the four "cobras" into limbo because they had to find a new party within 30 days or they would lose their MP status.

They would also lose their status too if they were not fired from their original party and applied to join another party.

The FFP told the EC on Jan 16 that the four "cobras" are still with the party, apparently, after having learned they have joined new parties, creating a situation in which the dissidents hold dual party memberships and risk being stripped of their status by the EC.

Before informing the EC, Mr Piyabutr, when pressed by the media about the issue, claimed he was not sure that the meeting of MPs and executive committee had the required quorum -- which is untrue as shown in a verbatim transcript of the meeting.

The dirty trick will not work and may backfire on Mr Piyabutr and the party.

It is childish and shows a complete lack of political maturity for a law professor like Mr Piyabutr who prides himself on being a visionary new-generation politician.

The claim that the party has been a victim of persecution is partially true but some of the troubles confronted by the party and its core leaders were their own making -- either by plain oversight as in the case of Mr Thanathorn's media share ownership or loose tongue.

Veera Prateepchaikul is former editor, Bangkok Post.

Veera Prateepchaikul

Former Editor

Former Bangkok Post Editor, political commentator and a regular columnist at Post Publishing.

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