FFP voters in search of a new home

FFP voters in search of a new home

It was one of those dark days in Thai political history when the Constitutional Court decided to condemn the Future Forward Party (FFP) to premature death for the crime of receiving a 191.2 million baht loan from its leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

The court's decision was a moment of joy for haters of the party just as it was a moment of sadness and anger for the party's supporters.

For its critics, justice was done by the court, but for the party's supporters, it was yet another act of injustice by a tool of the junta.

With emotions running high in the immediate aftermath of the court's decision, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's online appeal to Thais to respect the court's judgement and for FFP's supporters to explore other mechanisms to check the government's performance just added fuel to the fire.

It was shortsighted and untimely. How could he expect the party's followers to respect the court's decision after the court has just condemned their beloved party to death? No wonder he quickly deleted his online comment or it would have stirred up more unrest.

The court has done its job to the letter of the law, apparently, with no regard for the impact of its decision on the six million of people who voted for the party in the March 24 elections last year.

Like it or not, the court has deepened the political divide between the young generation which wants to see structural changes in society and the conservative generation which wants to maintain the status quo.

The old colour politics between the pro-Thaksin and anti-Thaksin camps is fading as their remaining core leaders await the court's mercy for previous offences committed in the name of democracy which have now been proven as futile because the real beneficiaries are those currently in power and will not let go of it for many years to come.

The judiciary should not be surprised if the young generation is viewing them -- rightly or wrongly -- with extreme distrust that they are being used as a tool of the powers-that-be to eliminate its real or perceived enemies.

The court's decision has made it clear that the vaguely-worded clause in the organic law on political parties intends that parties cannot legally accept loans.

So, we will have to wait and see how the Election Commission (EC) deals with the many other parties which also took loans to fund their political activities.

And whether the EC will proceed with its unfinished mission to finish off Mr Thanathorn and his executive committee by taking them to the Criminal Court over the loan controversy as threatened by the publicity-seeking crusader Srisuwan Janya who appears dissatisfied with the 10-year banishment from politics against Mr Thanathorn and the executive committee members delivered by the court, and presumably wants to see them sent into prison.

The 10-year ban from politics is a long period of time.

Although Mr Thanathorn and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, the former party secretary-general, have vowed to carry on their activities outside parliament under the umbrella of Khana Anakhot Mai, it remains to be seen whether they have the resolve to carry on without being demoralised and losing their patience.

Imagine a boxer who is shadow-boxing day in, day out without having a chance to actually fight in the ring for the next 10 years. It will be a tormenting experience for the two firebrand politicians. Hence, moral support to keep alive their fighting spirit is essential.

In hindsight, one disturbing question which arises is whether society is open to a new party which dares to think and do things out of the box, which wants to see structural change for the better of society?

Or it is happy with the status quo, with the elite class monopolising control and reaping most of the fruits of development?

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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