July 27, 2023
BANGKOK – Move Forward Party said that former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s plan to return to Thailand next month would not affect the eight-party bloc’s efforts to form the next coalition.
Chaithawat Tulathon, the party’s secretary-general, said on Wednesday that Thaksin’s plan to return on August 10 had nothing to do with the Pheu Thai Party’s moves to form a coalition government.
He added that he had no details about Thaksin’s return, but said every Thai should be able to return home to enter the judicial process.
On Wednesday, Thaksin’s youngest daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra said in a Facebook post that her father was landing at Don Mueang International Airport on August 10.
When asked to confirm rumours that a person respected by Move Forward MPs had travelled to meet Thaksin in Hong Kong on his birthday on Wednesday, Chaithawat said he did not think there was such a meeting.
Unconfirmed reports say that this person was asked by Thaksin to talk Move Forward into backing down from its stand to amend Article 112 of the Penal Code or lese majeste law, so it can remain part of the Pheu Thai-led coalition.
Senators, who effectively blocked Pita from winning the PM’s post, have threatened to withdraw support for Pheu Thai if Move Forward remains in the bloc.
Will Move Forward back down?
When asked to confirm if Move Forward is willing to give up its stance to amend the law, Chaithawat said his party will decide after meeting the other seven members of the alliance.
On Tuesday, Pheu Thai cancelled a meeting with the coalition partners after the ombudsmen asked Constitutional Court to rule whether parliamentarians can cite a meeting regulation to block Pita’s renomination for the next PM vote.
Chaithawat also said that no Move Forward leader needed to talk to Thaksin because the next government was being formed through meetings with alliance partners and meetings between the two largest parties – Move Forward and Pheu Thai.
He added that Move Forward also disagreed with the ombudsmen’s request for the Constitutional Court to annul the parliamentary decision to block Pita’s renomination.
Chaithawat explained that Move Forward considers the Parliament as a branch of sovereign power, independent from the judiciary.
Dissolution in sight?
As for Move Forward being accused of acting against the parliamentary system by seeking to amend the lese majeste law, Chaithawat said his party had asked the charter court to give it more than just 15 days to present a written defence.
The party is awaiting a reply from the court, he added.
He also said that he does not think this case will lead to Move Forward’s dissolution because the petition only sought a court order to prohibit the party from amending the lese majeste law.
As for whether Move Forward can replace Pheu Thai as coalition leader, Chaithawat said anything was possible in politics.
“But first of all, there should be a way to allow the same PM candidate to be renominated,” he said.
Chaithawat added that he did not know whether Pheu Thai and other partners would cancel the memorandum of understanding (MoU), which was signed when Move Forward led the coalition. He said he would only know after the eight-party bloc met again.
Several Pheu Thai MPs and leading members of the bloc said the MoU should no longer be binding, as Pheu Thai has replaced Move Forward as leader.
Chaithawat added that Move Forward simply wanted to follow voters’ wish to see the first and second election winners form a coalition government together. Move Forward won 151 MP seats and Pheu Thai 141 in the May 14 election.
The Move Forward secretary-general added that delaying the formation of a new government by 10 months, when the current senators’ tenure ends was possible theoretically, but it would take too long.
“Anyway, I believe the eight parties of the bloc, especially the first and second parties, will still hold hands firmly,” Chaithawat concluded.