44 MFP MPs risk lifetime bans
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44 MFP MPs risk lifetime bans

Pita targeted in potential ethics probe

Sirikanya: 'No plan to axe Section 112'
Sirikanya: 'No plan to axe Section 112'

Forty-four MPs of the Move Forward Party (MFP), including its chief adviser Pita Limjaroenrat, could face a political ban for life as they are now the subject of a probe into whether they adhered to the code of ethics over their stance on the lese-majeste law.

Lawyer Theerayut Suwankesorn on Friday filed a petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) asking it to investigate claims of a serious ethical violation by the 44 lawmakers who submitted the bill to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code.

Mr Theerayut asked the Constitutional Court last year to halt the MFP's attempts to amend the section.

Sonthiya Sawasdee, a former adviser to the House committee on legal affairs, filed a similar petition with the NACC on Friday.

The petitions come after the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the MFP's continuous efforts to change the lese-majeste law indicated an intention to undermine the constitutional monarchy.

Theerayut: Asked NACC to investigate

Mr Theerayut said political office holders are required by law to meet certain ethical standards, including safeguarding the royal institution.

Section 235 of the constitution stipulates that if the NACC finds grounds for allegations of a serious ethical violation by political office holders, it will have to forward the case to the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

If the court accepts the case, they will be suspended from duty pending its ruling.

If they are found guilty as alleged, they will be banned from applying to run in elections for MPs, senators, and local organisation members. They will also be banned from holding any political office for life. The court can also suspend their voting rights for up to 10 years as it sees fit.

Mr Sonthiya said the Constitutional Court's ruling is legally binding on all agencies and that he expects the 44 MFP lawmakers to face a political ban for life.

Sirikanya Tansakul, a deputy MFP leader and one of the 44 MPs who signed in support of the bill to amend Section 112, said the MPs have been prepared to fight the case in court and insisted the party has no intention to revoke Section 112.

"MPs who perform their legislative duty have the right and legitimacy to amend laws," she said.

Asked if the 44 MPs' political careers would survive the case, she said: "We still have hope. But we also have to prepare for the worst-case scenario."

Quizzed about their backup plan if the Supreme Court rules against them and revokes their political rights, Ms Sirikanya said the court proceedings may take some time, and the party will have enough time to prepare young members to take over the running of party affairs.

"Even if the 44 MPs are banned from politics, the party's ideologies will carry on," she said.

Since the court's ruling against the MFP on Wednesday, the party has removed its policy about amending Section 112 from its official website.

MFP leader Chaithawat Tulathon said on Friday it was taken down because the court deemed it an attempt to overthrow the monarchy. The party's legal advisers suggested it be removed, Mr Chaithawat said.

Mr Chaithawat also said the probe into the ethical conduct of the 44 MPs is separate from the prospects of the party being disbanded.

The party's legal team will study the full text of the ruling before considering its next move, he said.

On Thursday, political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana filed a petition with the Election Commission, asking it to pursue a dissolution case against the main opposition party.

Mr Ruangkrai said he based his petition on Section 92 of the organic law on political parties.

This states that if the EC has evidence pointing to a political party's attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, it must petition the Constitutional Court to consider dissolving that party and banning its executives from elections for 10 years.

Wednesday's ruling supported the claim Move Forward was trying to end the constitutional monarchy by amending the lese-majeste law.

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