Thanathorn sworn in then kicked out of parliament

Thanathorn sworn in then kicked out of parliament

Thanathorn: left to cheers and jeers
Thanathorn: left to cheers and jeers

Speaking to media after his MP status was suspended by court order on Saturday, Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit vowed to continue his political activities outside parliament.

"As their representative, I will make the most of my time to talk to the people and heed their problems. This information will be fed to the FFP's MPs who will raise the issues for House discussion.

"I am neither disheartened nor saddened. I will just move forward," he declared.

Mr Thanathorn was among the 498 MPs who were sworn in during the first session of the House of Representatives at the TOT Plc auditorium on Chaeng Watthana Road yesterday.

The main agenda was to elect a House speaker and deputies. The session was chaired by acting House speaker Chai Chidchob, 91, of the Bhumjaithai Party.

Mr Chai asked the House secretary-general to read the Constitutional Court order for the FFP leader to stop performing his MP duties until it rules over an alleged breach of the media shareholding rules.

Mr Thanathorn addressed the House to confirm he would step aside for now despite protests by some MPs who said he had no right to speak.

MPs from his party and other allied camps then gave him a standing ovation as he left the auditorium, prompting Mr Chai to declare "this is not a theatre … Please stop".

Mr Thanathorn is accused of failing to transfer his shares in a media company prior to applying to run in the election. This could be a breach of Section 98(3) of the constitution, which bars owners or shareholders of media companies from applying to be MPs.

The Election Commission asked the court to decide whether Mr Thanathorn was eligible when he applied to run and suspend him from performing his MP duties until the ruling is made. The court agreed and gave Mr Thanathorn 15 days to submit a defence.

Mr Thanathorn is also facing another EC probe after revealing in a public forum that he had loaned the party 110 million baht to finance campaign rallies and activities.

Should the loan be considered a donation, Mr Thanathorn may have violated Section 66 of the organic law on parties, which caps personal donations at 10 million baht a year.

If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to five years and see his election rights stripped for five years.

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