Pita says iTV shares transferred, no bar to being PM
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Pita says iTV shares transferred, no bar to being PM

Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat waves to supporters in this photo posted with his statement about his iTV shareholding posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday morning,  with the message,
Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat waves to supporters in this photo posted with his statement about his iTV shareholding posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday morning, with the message, "I am ready to fight all attempts to revive iTV to block us."

Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the election-winning Move Forward Party (MFP), said on Tuesday his iTV shares were transferred to relatives' names to ensure he could be the next prime minister, amid attempts to block him from entering government.

He was confident there was nothing to disqualify him from serving as an MP or becoming prime minister at the head of a new coalition government.

Mr Pita wrote on Facebook on Tuesday morning that the Prime Minister's Office terminated its contract with iTV on March 7, 2007, and iTV had not been a media organisation since then.

The constitution prohibits a shareholder of a media organisation from running in a general election. Mr Pita's 42,000 iTV shares recently led to complaints challenging his eligibility to be an MP at the 2019 general election, to approve his party's candidates and to lead the next government.

Mr Pita wrote that after the contract's termination, iTV's frequency was re-allocated to the Public Broadcasting Service of Thailand (Thai PBS), and iTV did not have a frequency for any media role.

He said that from March 16, 2007 he held iTV shares on behalf of relatives in his capacity as manager of  his late father's estate.

"But now there are attempts to revive iTV as a mass media organisation, to attack me," Mr Pita wrote.

He said that in its 2018-2019 financial statement, iTV was defined as a holding company but in two following financial statements it was defined as a TV organisation.

At the iTV shareholders' meeting on April 26 this year, a shareholder asked if iTV was a media organisation. "Was the question politically motivated?... Was it an attempt to revive iTV as a mass media organisation?" Mr Pita asked on Facebook.

The irregularities prompted him to discuss the issue with relatives who had him holding iTV shares on their behalf, and they concluded that he should transfer the shares to relatives to prevent any issues from "attempts to revive iTV as a media organisation", Mr Pita wrote.

"I am highly confident there is nothing to disqualify me from the election or being a candidate for prime minister," he wrote.

He denied the share transfer had an ulterior purpose.

"From now on I will proceed with preparing the transition to the successful formation of the Move Forward government with Pita as the prime minister," he wrote.

"No one and no power can block the consensus that fellow people expressed in the May 14 election through as many as 14 million votes," Mr Pita wrote, referring to the support his party received through the ballot box at the general election.

Reporters waited outside Pheu Thai Party headquarters on Tuesday morning to question Mr Pita when he arrived there for a meeting with coalition allies. He avoided them, entering through the back door.

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