FFP faces new shares storm

FFP faces new shares storm

11 candidates eyed over media holdings

Srisuwan: Did some digging
Srisuwan: Did some digging

Activist Srisuwan Janya will on Monday petition the Election Commission (EC) to investigate 11 election winning candidates from the Future Forward Party (FFP) over allegations of shareholding violations.

Mr Srisuwan, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, said yesterday he had received information from the public that some FFP poll winners hold shares in media companies.

Mr Srisuwan did not name the 11 candidates.

He said he had asked to check memoranda of association with the Department of Business Development under the Ministry of Commerce and found that 11 prospective MPs from the party are owners or shareholders of media and/or publishing companies.

This could constitute a breach of Section 98(3) of the constitution and Section 42(3) of the law on the election of MPs. The two provisions that bar owners or shareholders of media and/or publishing companies from becoming MPs.

Mr Srisuwan said the association needs to clarify the issue to set a standard for those who enter Thai politics, as politicians must be free of any suspicions about their background and adhere to strict rules governing their qualifications.

He said he will submit a petition to the EC asking it to halt the endorsement of the 11 candidates, suspend their right to contest in elections, and consider dishing out further punishment to them under Section 151 of the law on the election of MPs.

Section 151 stipulates that those who apply to be MPs despite not qualifying according to the law could face a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of between 20,000 and 200,000 baht, and also may have their voting rights suspended for 20 years.

On Thursday, Mr Srisuwan also petitioned the EC to investigate whether FFP leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was qualified to be an MP.

Mr Srisuwan claimed Mr Thanathorn applied to be an MP candidate while still holding shares in V-Luck Media Co, in breach of the same sections of the constitution.

In a statement issued last Tuesday, the EC said evidence showed Mr Thanathorn had owned 675,000 shares in the media company. He has seven days to defend himself after receiving the EC's document informing him of the allegations.

Mr Thanathorn on Sunday said he has allowed Dtac to disclose the details of his mobile phone usage to back up his claim that he had transferred the shares to his mother on Jan 8.

"To Mr Srisuwan or anyone who wants information on my mobile phone usage from Dtac, I have already allowed Dtac to release it,'' Mr Thanathorn said.

Mr Thanathorn will meet the EC tomorrow to counter the allegations. Mr Thanathorn has dismissed the complaint and insisted he and his wife transferred all their shares in V-Luck Media Co to his mother on Jan 8 after returning to Bangkok from Buri Ram, where he had been campaigning that day.

But, according to the Department of Business Development, the change in shareholdings of the company was reported to officials only three days before the election on March 24.

According to Isara News Agency, Mr Thanathorn's mother gave the shares she received to two nephews on Jan 14. The shares were later transferred back to his mother on March 21, the same day she informed the department of the list of new shareholders.

Meanwhile, Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a former member of the now-dissolved Thai Raksa Chart Party, said he will on Monday petition the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the EC for "discriminatory practices''.

He said the EC had failed to take action against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who owns Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, as well as a website opened under his name last year, which Mr Ruangkrai claims are mass media. This could violate the relevant laws governing media shareholdings, he said.

While the EC has launched a probe against Mr Thanathorn for a media shareholding violation, it failed to take action against Gen Prayut on similar grounds, Mr Ruangkrai said. Failure to do so could be tantamount to discriminatory practices, he said.

Do you like the content of this article?