November 3, 2023
BANGKOK – Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a party mentor, was among those questioning the party’s resolutions announced late on Wednesday to expel one MP and save the other.
Move Forward held a closed-door meeting of its MPs and executives that began at 5pm on Wednesday. By the time the party announced its resolutions in the cases against Prachin Buri MP Wutthipong Thonglao and Bangkok MP Chaiyamphawan Munpian, it was 11.30pm.
Wutthipong was expelled after 120 out of 128 MPs and executives attending the meeting voted against him, while Chaiyamphawan escaped the same fate as the 116 votes against him fell short of the requirement of three-fourths of the votes for expulsion.
Party leader Chaithawat Tulathon told a press conference after the meeting that the two MPs were believed by the party disciplinary panel to have committed sexual harassment as accused. He explained that the party’s constitution required three fourths of votes to expel an MP.
Chaithawat said the Bangkok MP was ordered to come out to apologise to his victims and take remedial actions or face more action from the party. He said the Bangkok MP was also put on probation, with a warning not to commit similar wrongdoings again.
However, Piyabutr, former secretary-general of the now defunct Future Forward Party, said the actions against the two MPs, especially the one saved from expulsion, were too light. Move Forward was created when Future Forward was dissolved for violating the Political Parties Act.
Without taking names, Piyabutr said Chaiyamphawan should have resigned to salvage the party’s image and leading Move Forward members should have come out to apologise to the public and condemn the wrongdoers instead of remaining silent. Piyabutr said he saw only a few female MPs of the party come out to speak about the cases publicly.
Piyabutr said the MPs accused in the cases should have taken responsibility and resigned long ago instead of letting the party be divided by the voting.Meanwhile, Wutthipong on Thursday insisted he was innocent and was a victim of internal politicking.
He said he would not resign as Prachin Buri MP but he would seek a new party to join to retain his MP status.
He said it was not fair that the party had expelled him but spared the other MP. He alleged that he faced the penalty because he had no connections in the party unlike the other MP.
Wutthipong said the allegations against him pertained to a period before he was elected, so it should not have been regarded as the misconduct of an MP.
He maintained that he had never molested the woman who had filed the complaint against him. He said the party should have had a psychologist sit on the investigative panel because he considered the woman “mentally unstable”. He said he had removed the woman from his election campaign team after noticing her improper personal messages sent to him, indicating her sexual feelings towards him.
“The incident took place in the middle of last year but the complaint was made after I was elected and party members led her to file the complaint,” Wutthipong said.
He added he would consider legal action against both the woman and the party for damaging his reputation.