MFP expects favourable lese majeste amendment verdict

MFP expects favourable lese majeste amendment verdict

MFP expects favourable lese majeste amendment verdict
Move Forward Party MP Parit Wacharasindhu. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The main opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) is confident the Constitutional Court’s ruling due on Wednesday on its effort to have the lese majeste law amended will be favourable for the party.

Parit Wacharasindhu, an MFP list MP and party spokesman, said on Monday the party would bring the issue up for internal discussion before the ruling is handed down.

Theerayut Suwannakasorn petitioned the Constitutional Court to rule if the MFP’s election campaign agenda to push for the amendment of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law, in the May polls last year was constitutional.

The petition was directed against the party and Pita Limjaroenrat, who was then MFP leader.

However, that petition did not request the court to dissolve the MFP, although the ruling on Wednesday could be a precursor for a separate petition to be filed seeking the party’s disbandment.

On Monday, Mr Parit said the MFP stands its ground that its proposed amendment of the lese majeste was within the bounds of the law and that the party was pursuing the issue with no ulterior motives.

He dismissed the complainant’s allegation that the amendment constitutes subversion.

Mr Parit also referred to the MFP sponsoring a draft bill to rectify the lese majeste law. He reasoned that for any legislation to be enacted, it must go through a thorough multi-party vetting in parliament, adding nowhere in the draft bill is there a mention of the amendment attempting to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

The MFP spokesman called on supporters to pay attention to Wednesday’s ruling as it could set a landmark precedent for Thai politics.

Meanwhile, Senator Somchai Sawangkarn said on his Facebook page that the chances of the MFP falling foul over its amendment plan were high.

“A much tougher petition could be waiting in the wings for the MFP as a result of tomorrow’s ruling,” according to the senator.

Mr Somchai said the MFP’s attempt to present a bill on amending Section 112 was twice rejected by the parliament president before last year’s general elections. The president believed it ran counter to the charter.

However, the party not only kept pushing the legislation but proceeded to adopt the amendment as part of its election campaign policy, Mr Somchai added.

The senator explained the amendment would water down the penalty against lese majeste offenders to be lower than that enforced against ordinary citizens under the defamation law.

He added the Constitutional Court has once ruled that earlier attempts by groups allegedly aligned with the MFP, which advocated a change to Section 112, amounted to an implicit form of subverting the country’s rule and that it does not equate to a reform of the monarchy.

Mr Somchai said the petition against the party was watertight.

Last week, the Constitutional Court ruled that Mr Pita did not hold shares in a media business when he applied to run for office last year, and his MP status remains intact.