Activist Ruangkrai continues crusade against PM hopeful Pita

Activist Ruangkrai continues crusade against PM hopeful Pita

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat is seen in parliament on July 4. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat is seen in parliament on July 4. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana has continued his crusade against Move Forward leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat.

Mr Ruangkrai said he had earlier sent a letter to the Election Commission (EC) asking it to investigate and seek a Constitutional Court ruling whether Mr Pita, in holding the copyright of four books he authored, publishing them and making some income from selling them, had forfeited his right to be an MP and candidate for prime minister under Sections 98 (3) and 101 of the 2017 constitution.

Veteran politician Ruangkrai – known for switching parties and allegiances, and previously described as a political "giant-killer" – said that following his letter to the EC, many people commented online without true knowledge of the law.

To clarify matters, he said on Sunday he was sending another letter to the EC asserting that under the Publication Act of 2007, the fact that Mr Pita had authored the four books, published them and made money from selling them meant he had been involved in a media business.

Mr Ruangkrai earlier petitioned the EC, saying that Mr Pita's ownership of iTV shares meant he was ineligible when he registered to run for election.

Mr Ruangkrai is a former appointed senator and prolific petitioner, best known for bringing a complaint against then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej in 2008 for conflict of interest because he accepted a small sum for hosting a TV cooking show. The Constitutional Court agreed and Mr Samak was forced to leave office.

Mr Ruangkrai is now a member of the Palang Pracharath Party which leads the caretaker coalition government of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

In another move against Mr Pita, senator Somchai Sawaengkarn on Sunday posted a statement on his Facebook page directed at the EC.

The commission on June 9 threw out all complaints related to media share ownership against Mr Pita, saying that it would instead investigate whether Mr Pita applied to be a list-MP candidate despite knowing he might not have been eligible.

EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong said, with information available, a committee would be set up to further investigate whether Mr Pita violated Section 42 (3) and Section 151 of the law on the election of MPs.

Mr Somchai said the EC should quickly exercise its power under Section 82, paragraph 4, of the constitution to ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether Mr Pita had applied to run in the election despite knowing he might not be eligible.

The senator said the EC, in failing to do this, could be deemed to have neglected its duty under Section 157 of the Criminal Code.

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