Future Forward's Pannika grilled on post with king picture

Future Forward's Pannika grilled on post with king picture

Future Forward Party MP Pannika Wanich raises her hand to speak at a parliamentary session in Bangkok last Wednesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Future Forward Party MP Pannika Wanich raises her hand to speak at a parliamentary session in Bangkok last Wednesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Several police units will investigate if Future Forward Party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich, nicknamed Chor, violated any laws in an online post of an old photo showing her gesturing towards a portrait of King Rama IX.

Assistant national police chief Pol Lt Gen Piya Uthayo said on Monday that the Thailand's Action Taskforce for Information Technology Crime Suppression (Tactics) under the Royal Thai Police Office had ordered the Technology Crime Suppression Division, the Legal Affairs Division and the Special Branch Division of the Royal Thai Police Office to conduct the investigation.

They would determine whether Ms Pannika's posts on social media including Facebook and Instagram violated computer crime and criminal laws and affected national security, he said.

Her friends who posed with her in the photo would also face investigation, he said.

The police announcement followed an acrimonious attack on Ms Pannika by Palang Pracharath MP Parina Kraikup, who on Sunday alleged on Facebook that the Future Forward spokeswoman had insulted the late King. "E Chor nak paen din," Ms Parina wrote, a phrase that was interpreted by many as calling Ms Pannika something similar to "traitorous scum".

Also on Monday, activist Srisuwan Janya said he would ask the National Anti-Corruption Commission to probe if Ms Pannika, a list MP of the Future Forward Party, violated the ethics required of holders of political positions.

MPs must protect the royal institution and the constitutional monarchy and not take any action that would tarnish the honour of MPs, he said.

The matter could be considered malfeasance and a violation of Section 112 of the Criminal Code (lese majeste law) that could cause her to forfeit her MP position and electoral rights, Mr Srisuvan said.

He planned to file his petition at the Office of the NACC on Tuesday afternoon.

Ms Pannika, also known as Chor, posted an apology via her Facebook account Pannika Chor Wanich on Sunday. The apology related to an old photo showing her and her friends in graduation uniforms gesturing toward a picture of King Rama IX. The photo was posted on Saturday by Action Coalition for Thailand MP Juk Panchupet and shared by Ms Parina on Sunday.

Ms Pannika blamed online posts of the photo on the National Council for Peace and Order and asked concerned parties not to use the royal institution to attack her and her political career.

She also wrote that she and her friends had taken the photo for fun on their graduation day at Chulalongkorn University in 2010 and they believed in the constitutional monarchy.


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