Pheu Thai does U-turn over petition

Pheu Thai does U-turn over petition

Bhumjaithai weed policy 'needs study'

Bhumjaithai Party leader and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul inspects cannabis products on May 25. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Bhumjaithai Party leader and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul inspects cannabis products on May 25. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Pheu Thai Party has changed its mind about seeking to disband the Bhumjaithai Party over the latter's cannabis policy, now saying the issue needs time for careful study.

The party made its U-turn a day after it said it believed Bhumjaithai's flagship policy of decriminalising cannabis was done to deceive people into giving it their mandate so it could acquire power in government.

Pheu Thai said the policy amounts to a breach of the organic law on political parties.

On Tuesday, Pheu Thai Party leader Dr Cholnan Srikaew, said the opposition deemed the disbandment issue to be sensitive, which needs to be first studied carefully.

A legal team will undertake the study and decide if there is strong justification and sufficient evidence to back a petition seeking to dissolve Bhumjaithai, he said. If the legal team says a disbandment petition is warranted, the opposition will call for a vote on whether it should be carried out.

"Pheu Thai has established a clear stand -- it does not agree with dissolving a political party too easily or indiscriminately, a stand shared by other opposition members," Dr Cholnan said.

Pheu Thai succeeded the People's Power Party (PPP) which, in turn, rose from the ashes of the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party. Both the PPP and the TRT were dissolved on the Constitutional Court's orders for electoral fraud.

Dr Cholnan said the only grounds for dismantling a party should be subverting the constitutional democracy.

In fact, Pheu Thai avoids being litigious when it comes to dealing with legal disputes, he said. If too much focus is attached to the letter of the law in settling issues, this might be used as a tool to intimidate a party, he added.

Dr Cholnan insisted that Pheu Thai's proposed disbandment of Bhumjaithai was not politically driven.

Bhumjaithai has been viewed as a party with the potential to expand significantly in the next general election, which could stand in the way of Pheu Thai's ambition to score a landslide victory.

Dr Cholnan denied Pheu Thai was singling out Bhumjaithai for an attack, saying it treated every other party equally as a competitor.

Meanwhile, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul said no political party should seek to destroy another.

He maintained that Bhumjaithai has done nothing wrong with its policy to decriminalise cannabis.

Now, a specific law recognising the use of cannabis and hemp for medical and research purposes is being vetted in parliament amid opposition by Pheu Thai and fellow coalition partner, the Democrat Party.

Mr Anutin, who is also a deputy prime minister and public health minister, said the party presented its cannabis policy to the Election Commission to be scrutinised prior to the 2019 election which later was formulated into a government policy. He called on Dr Cholnan to be more mature about the disbandment issue.

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