Dems face pressure over Prinn stance

Dems face pressure over Prinn stance

Chuan: Party'must explain'
Chuan: Party'must explain'

Former Democrat leader and current House speaker Chuan Leekpai yesterday called on the party to explain the sexual assault allegations made against its former deputy leader, Prinn Panitchpakdi.

While Mr Chuan stressed that he won't interfere with Democrats' internal affairs, the party must address the allegations as they are hurting its reputation, which in turn affects its supporters, he said.

He stressed no issue should be left unaddressed so as to prevent misunderstandings in the future.

"When there is an issue, we must find an opportunity to explain. There are some misunderstandings among television programme hosts, which the party should clarify," he said.

Mr Chuan assured the Democrat Party will respect the law and won't interfere in the investigation.

He also said Supachai Panitchpakdi, Mr Prinn's high-profile father, won't exert influence to skew the outcome of the investigation.

When asked if Mr Prinn, who quit the party after the allegations came to light, could still face a probe by the party, he said the party has regulations regarding ethical conduct, without elaborating if they extended to former members.

The remarks increase pressure on the party to take a stand on the issue which is escalating as more alleged victims come forward. Mr Prinn, who is not an MP, resigned from the Democrat Party last week to fight the allegations.

Firebrand activist Srisuwan Janya yesterday filed a petition with the Election Commission, asking it to order the Democrat Party's executive committee to pass a resolution on Mr Prinn.

Democrat Party spokesman Ramet Rattanachaweng defended the party's stance, insisting the party has taken steps to address the matter. However, he said he couldn't publicly discuss internal procedures.

He also confirmed Mr Prinn resigned as a party member on April 14, when he quit all positions in the party. His resignation would be forwarded to the authorities, as required by law.

Meanwhile, women rights activists yesterday rallied outside the Democrat Party's headquarters in Bangkok to raise awareness of sexual violence and demand the party investigate the accusations against Mr Prinn.

The activists also called on all parties to establish a code of conduct concerning sexual violence.

The participants also performed Sida Lui Fai ("Sida Walking on Fire") -- a scene from the Ramayana epic, in which the female protagonist walks on fire to prove her words -- as part of their protest yesterday.

Rachada Dhnadirek, executive committee member of the Democrat Party, yesterday accepted the petition and assured the party will not meddle with the investigation.

"If the victims need any help they can contact the party. We have a group of female lawyers ready to provide assistance," she said.

She also said the party would hold a meeting to consider demands made by various groups, including the one calling for party leader Jurin Laksanawisit to issue a formal apology.

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