The Constitutional Court has rejected a petition seeking the dissolution of the Move Forward Party and two others for alleged attempts to overthrow the constitutional monarchy by supporting secession of the southern border provinces.
The three parties were targeted in connection with a June 7 meeting held by southern student groups, in which a hypothetical discussion of a referendum on independence for the three southern border provinces — the so-called “Patani State” — took place.
Members of the Prachachat and Fair parties, whose main support base is in the South, were invited to attend the event. Move Forward was included in the petition because it advocates that no sections should be off-limits when rewriting the constitution, and because the other two parties were part of the coalition that it attempted unsuccessfully to form after the May 14 election.
Natthaporn Toprayoon, a lawyer and former adviser to the Ombudsman, alleged in his petition to the court that the three parties had participated in activities organised by individuals or groups with ideologies or ideas to change the form of the state.
Specifically, these activities include supporting greater autonomy from the kingdom or territorial separation, which would be deemed an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy with the king as head of state.
Chapter 1 of the 2017 constitution states that “Thailand is one and indivisible Kingdom”.
The court ruled that the actions of the three parties did not violate Section 49, which prohibits actions that undermine the monarchy.
Mr Natthaporn unsuccessfully petitioned the Constitutional Court in 2019 to dissolve the Future Forward Party, the predecessor of Move Forward, because its logo resembled that of the fabled Illuminati, a shadowy group alleged to be behind attempts to overthrow European monarchies.
Move Forward and its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, still have two more crucial cases before the Constitutional Court. The first stems from Mr Pita’s holding of shares in a media company, the defunct broadcaster iTV, which would disqualify him from serving as an MP.
The second case accuses Move Forward of “attempting to overthrow the democratic system with His Majesty the King as the Head of State”.
Filed by activist lawyer Theerayut Suwannakaysorn, the complaint is based on the party’s declared aim to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese-majeste law. A ruling against the party could ultimately lead to its dissolution.
Mr Theerayut is best known for representing Suwit Thongprasert, formerly known as the monk Phra Buddha Isara, who was active in the Bangkok Shutdown demonstrations against an earlier Pheu Thai government that led to the 2014 military coup.