The Move Forward Party (MFP) must not back down on its push to amend the lese-majeste law, reform the armed forces and pardon those indicted for expressing political opinions, otherwise it will lose mass support, says human rights lawyer Anon Nampa.
Mr Anon, a member of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and leader of the Ratsadon pro-democracy movement, made the comments on Friday in an interview on the Inside Thailand television programme on Channel 9.
He was responding to questions about a Facebook post that he directed at the MFP.
He said he wanted to send a message to Move Forward, Pheu Thai and the six other parties forming a new government that although politics involves a lot of bargaining, the people’s agenda should not be abandoned.
Mr Anon said the struggle by people of the “new generation” over the past three years is now moving towards being carried out in parliament instead of on the streets.
Since the protesters had high expectations about the result of the May 14 election, the coalition-leading MFP should not let them down, he said. If they fail to get what they wanted, they would certainly walk away from the party, he added.
“This is not a threat, but a friendly warning,” said Mr Anon. “Backing down on demands made by 14 million voters in exchange for the post of prime minister would not do any good to the democracy side.”
Parliament will meet on Thursday to vote for the next prime minister. Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat has 312 votes from the eight-party coalition but needs another 64 votes to win the job. Most of those votes will need to come from the unelected Senate but the support of its members appears limited. Many reportedly say the party’s plan to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese-majeste law, is a major concern.
“Concerning the proposed amendment to Section 112, the MFP should at least table it for deliberation in the House of Representatives,” Mr Anon said. “Whether it gets passed into law rests with parliament. There are still many steps to be taken to get the law amended.
“The best thing we should do now is to not allow the people to again risk their lives or be prosecuted under Section 112. We voted for the MFP and Pheu Thai and managed to push some of our friends in the Ratsadon movement into parliament for this purpose."
The activist lawyer said the MFP should not back down on its demands in exchange for the post of prime minister.
Both the MFP and Pheu Thai must maintain the momentum of democracy, he said. They must not shake hands with the other side that is trying to perpetuate the old power, including the Bhumjaithai and Democrat parties. Doing so would be a disaster for the democratic side, said Mr Anon.
All eight parties in the new government, he said, must join hands to reform the armed forces, amend Section 112 and push for pardons for those prosecuted for expressing political opinions.
“They must fight for these in parliament, regardless of whether they are successful or not,” he said. “People outside parliament are ready to show support, by means of holding rallies and other activities.”
Asked whether any activities are planned when parliament convenes on Thursday, Mr Anon said the matter had been discussed on social media but no venue had been chosen.
He said he believed any rally would be organic and without leaders as before.
According to data from TLHR to June 30 this year, 1,916 people have been prosecuted for political participation and expression since the beginning of the Free Youth protests in July 2020. At least 252 are facing lese-majeste charges under Section 112 and 130 have been charged with sedition under Section 116.