Thanathorn cops rally charges

Thanathorn cops rally charges

FFP boss must report to police by Friday

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit waves to party supporters who answered his call to join a gathering on the skywalk over Pathumwan intersection to voice dissent against the government on Dec 14. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit waves to party supporters who answered his call to join a gathering on the skywalk over Pathumwan intersection to voice dissent against the government on Dec 14. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Police have issued summonses for Future Forward Party members to acknowledge charges relating to the flash mob on the Skywalk at Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok on Dec 14.

FFP leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, and party member Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn, have been summoned to report to Pathumwan police by Friday.

Other organisers of the rally -- FFP secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, spokeswoman Pannika Wanich and party-list MP Pita Limjaroenrat -- are protected by parliamentary immunity due to their status as MPs, as parliament is still in session.

Police would be required to obtain the parliament president's permission to summon them to hear the charges. A source said the national police chief plans to take that step soon.

According to police, the rally organisers broke the public assembly law by failing to inform police of their plans in advance, blocking a railway station, failing to control rally participants, and using loudhailers in public without permission from authorities.

The rally was called by Mr Thanathorn after the Election Commission (EC) decided to ask the Constitutional Court to disband FFP for accepting a 191-million-baht loan from him to finance its election campaigns -- a violation of the organic law on political parties.

Last month, the court disqualified Mr Thanathorn as an MP after ruling he failed to transfer his shares in a media company when he registered his candidacy for the March general election.

Meanwhile, an opinion survey by the National Institute for Development Administration, or Nida Poll, showed respondents are split over the "flash mob" organised by Mr Thanathorn at the Pathumwan skywalk -- with the number of supporters slightly higher than opponents.

The poll was conducted on Dec 16-17 among 1,277 people aged 18 and over of various levels of education and occupations across the country.

Almost half -- 48.5% -- of respondents said they agreed with the rally. Of that number, about 28% said they strongly supported it, reasoning that it was intended to call for justice and liberty for the people.

About 21% voiced moderate support for it, saying people have the right to demonstrate, as long as it does not cause unrest.

A slightly smaller number -- 43.7% -- opposed the demonstration. Of that number, about 28% strongly opposed it, saying the flash mob on Dec 14 was driven by self-interest, while about 15% voiced moderate disagreement, saying they are already tired of political rallies.

However, another survey showed a different opinion on the FFP. About 40% of respondents interviewed by researchers from Super Poll, had a negative view of the FFP's decision to expel four MPs and call a mass rally to protest against the EC's party dissolution petition.

Noppadon Kannika, director of Super Poll, said the poll asked 1,010 respondents from Dec 16 to 20 about their views on the FFP's recent actions which have dominated the news in recent days.

The poll asked about the FFP's removal of four renegade MPs -- Chon Buri MP Kawinnat Takee, Chanthaburi MPs Thanaphat Kittiwongsa and Charuek Sri-on, and Chiang Mai MP Srinuan Boonlue -- for voting against the party line as well as the party's decision to call a rally to protest the EC's petition for dissolution. Among those polled, 40.2% said the action will cause it more problems, 31.3% said they were "not wise decisions", while 28.5% backed the move.

Super Poll also asked about the publicity stunt involving two men kissing each other in the parliament complex.Some have criticised the move, saying parliament was not the proper place for such a stunt. About 81.4% said it was inappropriate as they exercised their freedom in the wrong way.

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