Pita to resume MP duty
text size

Pita to resume MP duty

Court rules on MFP star's iTV shares

Pita Limjaroenrat, after he was cleared of breaking the election law. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Pita Limjaroenrat, after he was cleared of breaking the election law. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Pita Limjaroenrat, advisory chairman to the Move Forward Party (MFP), will retain his MP status and the party's prime minister candidacy following the Constitutional Court's ruling that the iTV shares he holds did not make him ineligible to run for a House seat.

The court's decision has brought relief to the MFP and its supporters who are awaiting another ruling which, according to some political observers, could potentially lead to the dissolution of the main opposition party.

The Constitutional Court is scheduled to rule next Wednesday whether the MFP's policy on Section 112 of the Criminal Code, better known as the lese majeste law, was an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

Shortly after the court handed down the ruling on Wednesday, Mr Pita posted a photo of himself and MFP leader Chaithawat Tulathon giving a wai, along with a message on Facebook saying: "Thank you for all your support. I'll move forward and keep working, no more waiting."

Mr Pita, who was suspended from his MP duties on July 19 when the court accepted the case filed by the Election Commission for review, can now resume those duties.

In a media interview, Mr Pita said the MFP has no reason to make changes to the party executive board following the court's decision. After being suspended as an MP, he stepped down to allow his replacement to become the opposition leader.

He said he will continue working on the party's strategic roadmap as assigned by the party leader and plans to announce it soon and his planned visits to the provinces remain unchanged.

Mr Chaithawat, also the opposition leader, said the MFP is not worried about the ruling to be handed down next Wednesday and it is looking forward to a favourable one.

Asked about possible changes to the party leadership, he said the party is scheduled to hold its next annual meeting in late April, and he does not mind if the party members want Mr Pita to be reinstated as party leader and get the position of opposition leader.

Political observers say the ruling will not lead to any significant changes in politics, but it can boost the party's morale and reduce political tension.

Thanaporn Sriyakul, chairman of the Political Science Association at Kasetsart University, told the Bangkok Post that Mr Pita can resume his duties much to the delight of his supporters and it may liven up the political scene.

"But overall it won't lead to political changes. The MFP remains in the opposition and continues building support and victories," he said.

He said he does not think the ruling next Wednesday will be negative for the MFP and even if it is, the party dissolution process would take a long time.

Wanwichit Boonprong, a political science lecturer at Rangsit University, said the court decision on Wednesday will only bring short relief to the party as a number of lawsuits are still pending.

However, he said Mr Pita's return to parliament will bolster the party's morale and reduce political tension.

House of Representatives secretary-general Arphat Sukanan said on Wednesday that Mr Pita can resume his duties immediately based on the court ruling without waiting for a court document which will be forwarded to parliament.

Senator Somchai Sawangkarn said the ruling could prompt Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the former leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party (FFP), a precursor to the MFP, to revive his case.

The Constitutional Court ruled in November 2019 to disqualify Mr Thanathorn as an MP over 675,000 shares he held in V-Luck Media Co when the FFP submitted the names of its party-list MP candidates to the EC.

Mr Somchai said V-Luck Media Co did not engage in media operations, but he declined to comment on the various rulings as the details could be different leading to opposing decisions.

The senator said the ruling could also prompt a lawsuit against the EC for taking legal action against Mr Pita for applying to run for a House seat.

In its 8:1 ruling, the court said iTV is a defunct media company, so the shares Mr Pita holds did not render him unqualified when he applied to be an MP candidate last April.

Do you like the content of this article?