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ASEAN MPs voice concern over attempts to dissolve Move Forward Party

Pita Limjaroenrat in Phuket, June 2023. PHOTO: Khaosod English

A number of ASEAN’s elected members have expressed concern about the ongoing legal challenges against Thailand’s Move Forward Party, which won the most number of parliamentary seats in the last general election but was blocked from forming a government by the country’s unelected Senate.

The Constitutional Court is now considering a petition to dissolve the party over its campaign pledge to reform Thailand’s draconian lèse-majesté law, or section 112 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits any criticism or defamation of the monarchy.

While the court has said it will begin deliberations on June 18, it has not confirmed when it will issue a ruling.

Now a group of ASEAN parliamentarians is calling on the international community to monitor the situation, concerned that the Move Forward Party could be dissolved.

The group ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights says the international community must take preventative action to discourage the use of the judicial system to dissolve a political party. A court ruling to do so could also mean MFP executive members being banned from politics for 10 years.

The Indonesian MP and APHR Chair Mercy Chriesty Barends says preventing any discussion on section 112 undermines the concept of democracy.

“By preventing parliamentarians from deliberating on the law that is not in line with international human rights standards, the court undermines the very idea of democracy as it puts that specific law beyond the reach of any amendments.”

The group is calling on the international community to use the tools of international law to hold those committing judicial harassment in Thailand accountable.

Her sentiments are echoed by former Malaysian MP and APHR Co-Chair, Charles Santiago.

“Democracy in Thailand is backsliding, not only due to a military coup, but also through dubious interpretations of laws employed to target opposition politicians. If the Move Forward Party is banned, like the Future Forward Party in 2019, millions of people will be disenfranchised, and unrest that could destabilise Thailand is a real possibility. This would not only hurt Thailand’s democratic development, but would further harm the economy and damage the reputation and legacy of the current Thai government.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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